Rickie Fowler is honing in on greatness. When he linked up with coach Butch Harmon, part of their project was to make his swing less flat for consistency. "Now I'll sometimes get too steep, and I have to go back to feeling a laid-off position," Fowler says. "Not that I want to be there, but that's what I have to feel to get on plane."Be it style, social media or swing changes, the four-time PGA Tour winner isn't afraid to try new things. A drawer of the golf ball since childhood, he recently started playing a fade off the tee to find more fairways. To set up his win at the Honda Classic in February, he lopped an inch off his driver shaft and used the 43.5-inch model to finish T-17 in driving accuracy for the week while still averaging a commanding 304 yards. No matter what the experiment is, his natural athleticism always helps him excel."Rickie is starting to plan his year around majors," Harmon says. "He knows he has to drive the ball a little better than last year."Fowler has done the work to make his swing less reliant on timing. Now it's about making his best golf appear at the right times. —Max Adler
FLARE THE FOOT
A simple change Butch Harmon has asked of his student Rickie Fowler is to turn his front foot out a skosh at address. "More flare makes it easier to clear your lower body on the downswing," Harmon says. "Rickie always had that flare in his right foot; we just had him turn out the left a little more."
TOE TO THE SKY
In Fowler's old takeaway, the clubface pointed at the ball too long in a shut position. To fix this, he focused on allowing the toe of the club to rotate up to start the swing. From a down-target view, "the club is more in line with his feet now, and the swing is nice and wide going back," Harmon says.
A LEVEL TURN
Halfway back, note the right angle formed by the shaft and Fowler's left arm. "All he has to do from here is turn his shoulders, and he's at the top," Harmon says. Once there, a flexed back knee is evidence of stability. "Check out his belt line, which stays level," Harmon says. "That's a solid hip turn going back."
Pound for pound, Fowler is one of the longest hitters in golf. He gets those extra yards by pushing off the ground. "Look at that squat position in his lower body," Harmon says. "When you go from the ground up, your hands and arms naturally drop into what I call the delivery position."
MOMENT OF TRUTH
Harmon counts four moves to copy in this "perfect impact." (1) The right arm has straightened into the hit. (2) There's no backup, meaning the chest is covering the ball. (3) The back of the glove is looking at the target, which means the clubface is square. (4) The left leg has snapped straight for a power boost.
As he follows through, Fowler extends his right arm and fully clears his left hip.
"It's a beautiful finish position. Everything is forward, and he's fully rotated," Harmon says. "I don't mind the left foot turning out a bit. That's just from the momentum of his lower body. You can tell he ripped this drive."