PGA Championship

Valhalla Golf Club


Gary Woodland Swing Analysis: Focus on footwork for a better release

In a new video series, David Leadbetter unpacks the secrets to tour player's swings

Gary Woodland is known for his ability to blister the golf ball. He finished last season ranked 15th in driving distance (309.5 yard average) and had the eighth fastest clubhead speed with the driver (123.2 miles per hour) on the PGA Tour.

In this analysis of Woodland's swing from Golf Digest Teaching Professional David Leadbetter, you can learn the keys to Gary’s power and how to use them to add more speed and distance to your swing.

Many golfers create clubhead lag—a key move for power—by hinging their wrists as they take the club back. Woodland does that, Leadbetter says, but he also increases that lag between his hands and the clubhead as he starts the downswing. Watch closely as Woodland’s wrist hinge increases as his hands start to move toward the ball. Leadbetter says this move is a big reason why Woodland is about 12 yards longer off the tee than the average on the PGA Tour.

“He creates a tremendous amount of lag and has to stay behind the ball to catch up,” Leadbetter says.

As he reaches impact, you can see Woodland’s lead hand, left side and clubface line up together. Leadbetter says that also is a common denominator among the best drivers on tour.

Woodland’s swing doesn’t stop once he’s hit the ball—and neither should yours. Leadbetter says to pay close attention to his release.

“Look how much pressure he’s putting back on his left foot,” Leadbetter says, “Check his left foot, how it spins and moves back to the left.”

That footwork helps Woodland maintain his speed through the ball while clearing his left side through impact, Leadbetter says. This weight shift is another key to Woodland’s power and consistency and is worth copying if you feel stuck at impact.


If you’re going to try one move from Woodland’s swing, Leadbetter says to copy his release action–specifically the weight shift in his left foot: “After you’ve started your move down, you want to feel like all the pressure, and weight in your front foot goes back onto the heel,” he says.

Emphasizing the pressure in your front foot rather than focusing on the rotation your hips will help you clear your left side more easily. Improving your release should increase your speed and consistency with the driver.