October 12, 2015

How He Hit That: Matthew Fitzpatrick's next-generation swing

WOBURN, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 11:  Matthew Fitzpatrick of England plays his second shot on the 18th hole during the final round of the British Masters supported by Sky Sports at Woburn Golf Club on October 11, 2015 in Woburn, England.  (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
Getty ImagesWOBURN, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 11: Matthew Fitzpatrick of England plays his second shot on the 18th hole during the final round of the British Masters supported by Sky Sports at Woburn Golf Club on October 11, 2015 in Woburn, England. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

While the U.S. and Rest-of-the-World were busy contesting the President's Cup in South Korea, Europe was busy minting the next young, athletic star for its 2016 Ryder Cup squad.

At the British Masters, 21-year-old Matthew Fitzpatrick validated his impressive amateur career by winning his first professional event, by two shots over Soren Kjeldsen, Shane Lowry and Fabrizio Zanetti. The 2013 U.S. Amateur winner and low amateur at the British Open is cut from the Rory McIlroy effortless-power cloth, averaging 290 yards off the tee from a 5-foot-10, 165-pound frame.

He does it it part by a particular move that's hard to see in real time but critical to copy if you want to add juice to your own tee shots. "In the first phase of his downswing, Matthew creates a certain kind of horizontal tension on the club that is like getting a whip ready to crack," says top New York teacher Michael Jacobs, who is based at the X Golf School at Rock Hill Golf & Country Club, in Manorville. "The average player throws the club so that it is moving outside the path of the hands, like the image below. His club stays inside his hand path, which gives him lots of time to rotate his body at high speed and pump that energy into the club."

The important distinction to make is that Fitzpatrick -- and every other modern big hitter -- creates speed by actively moving the club this way in transition, not by holding it back and trying to "create" lag. "Most people try to create lag by holding back their wrists and pulling their hands toward the ball. All this does is make the clubhead flee out too soon and slow down your body turn."

To get the feel for the right move, grab your driver headcover by the soft fabric end. "Hold it in your right hand and go back to the top. In your first move in the downswing, feel like you're trying the make cover dangle downward by moving your hand laterally away from the target. Most players make their hand go down fast, which makes the cover flip up and around."

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