How He Hit ThatSeptember 29, 2014

How He Hit That: Jamie Donaldson's Cup-winning wedge

Jamie Donaldson ended the Ryder Cup on his 15th hole Sunday, but it really was a mercy killing. Not only was the Welshman 4-up on Keegan Bradley, but the board was filled with European blue on a day when the Americans needed to win eight matches just to get close.

Donaldson's pitching wedge to a foot from 146 yards capped a breakout week for the 38-year-old Cup rookie, who also went 2-1 as a part of partnership with Lee Westwood. Donaldson's simple, repeatable swing has produced three victories on the European Tour to go with what will probably go down as the most memorable pitching wedge of his career.

"Jamie's arm and body motions put him in a position to hit extremely, powerful consistent shots," says top New York teacher Michael Jacobs, who is based at the X Golf School in Manorville, Long Island. "In the final phase of his downswing, his left arm hangs straight down from his shoulder. It shows his body has moved in the right sequence, and he's in a position where he can transfer all that speed from his wrists into the clubhead. If your left arm floats in a higher position, you waste a lot of that potential energy. That's why he's hitting super high 146-yard pitching wedges and most of us aren't."

Even if you can't produce a tour player's clubhead speed, you can get more distance and make more consistent contact if you try to copy that feeling of the lead arm hanging straight down through the last part of the downswing, says Jacobs, the 2012 Metropolitan Section PGA Teacher of the Year. "Get it right and your ball-strking will immediately improve, and you won't be so reliant on perfect timing. That's going to give you confidence when you're playing your own important rounds.

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