Cognizant Classic in The Palm Beaches

PGA National (Champion Course)

The Loop

How He Hit That: Tony Finau's big time powerful backswing extension

August 14, 2015

When you can smooth a tee shot out there 340 yards, pars take on a different kind of disappointment.

Tony Finau's easy clubhead speed lets him play a different course than most of the field at Whistling Straits. His average drive measured over four holes in two days was 310 yards, and on the 520-yard par-4 15th Friday, Finau hit a 367-yard tee shot followed by a 142-yard pitching wedge to 13 feet and a tap-in par.

Standing 6-foot-4 and having the fast-twitch muscles of a wide receiver certainly helps, but Finau also gets the most out of his swing mechanics.

"Tony Finau is able to turn his body much faster than almost anybody -- more than 450 degrees per second --  but he also does something with his arms that anybody can add to their swing," says top New York teacher Michael Jacobs, who is based at the X Golf School at Rock Hill Golf & Country Club in Long Island. "I hear amateur players talk all the time about 'staying connected,' and trying to keep their arms close to their body. This is exactly what you do if you want to hit it shorter, not longer."

Finau creates extreme "displacement" in his swing by getting his hands far from his body at the top of the backswing. It helps to be super flexible (and have very long arms) but that high-hands position gives him a lot of time and leverage to take advantage of all that body speed, says Jacobs. "You don't want to collapse your arms at the top of the backswing, but the higher you can get your hands and the handle, the more speed you'll produce. Any amount more than what you're doing now will help you. In other words, get unconnected."