Ben Griffin's driving setup that took him from mortgage loan officer to budding PGA Tour star
Ben Griffin's amazing journey from mortgage-loan officer to budding PGA Tour star was one of the feel-good stories of the 2022-’23 season. Not only did the 27-year-old rookie grab the 70th and final spot in the FedExCup postseason point standings, but he came oh-so-close to winning multiple times, twice having back-nine leads on Sunday.
Developing a go-to shot off the tee to help close out these tournaments is something he and his swing coach of five years, James Oh, have made a priority heading into 2024.
“He likes to tee the ball down and hit a little draw or cut,” says Oh, who teaches at Hacienda Golf Club in La Habra Heights, Calif. “His golf is really dictated by how comfortable he is on his missed shots. The ones that get away are because he gets stuck early and can’t get the clubhead around. We’ve been chipping away at it, and it’s getting better.”
One of the big keys to Griffin becoming more consistent off the tee is his setup. Oh, whose other students include LPGA Tour Rookie of the Year Hae Ran Ryu, says he likes to see Griffin’s shoulders stacked directly over his hips and his spine angled slightly back at address (above, first image) so that his body is in a more balanced, athletic, “ready” state. Griffin creates additional stability by sinking his feet into the turf, much like a weightlifter about to deadlift several hundred pounds off the ground.
“The stronger my legs feel and the more stability I have, the more I’m able to rotate and the more fairways I hit,” says Griffin, who averaged just over 300 yards per drive in 2022-’23, but hit just 56 percent of his fairways.
The stability in Griffin’s setup is evident in the rest of his swing. Griffin is now able to take the clubhead back wider and with a square clubface (above, second image), because his hands, arms and shoulders are moving together. As the backswing progresses, Griffin loads really well into his right hip without his hips moving any closer to the ball, Oh says, which allows him to turn his shoulders deeper until his back faces the target at the top (above, fourth image).
Halfway down, Griffin’s hips have leveled out and are centered and stacked over his knees again (above, fifth image). This is a critical checkpoint, Oh says, because Griffin can’t use his legs and hips to rotate if his weight is hanging back. Griffin’s weight has shifted forward as he continues to squat down into the ground, setting the stage for the left leg to straighten and explode upward at impact (above, sixth image). The lead leg posting up also allows him to rotate and clear his hips as his chest stays on top of the ball, which helps him square the face and hit more fairways.
Emulate Griffin’s setup and how he loads his lower body on the downswing, and you’ll not only hit more fairways but crush your drives, too.