HAVEN, Wis. - A lot of attention has been paid this week to golf instructor Sean Foley, who has been seen working with Tiger Woods at the PGA Championship. But another teacher, Chris O'Connell, is certain to receive more attention this weekend now that one of his students has had two great days.
Matt Kuchar, who shot a 69 in the second round at Whistling Straits and is the clubhouse leader at eight-under 136, has been receiving instruction since 2006 from O'Connell, an instructor based in Plano, Texas, at D.A.'s Golf Learning Center.
O'Connell learned his craft from Jim Hardy, whose 2005 book written with John Andrisani,* The Plane Truth For Golfers*, details how golfers essentially have either a one-plane (shoulders and arms on roughly the same plane) or two-plane (shoulders and arms on different planes). Kuchar has been taught a one-plane swing from O'Connell, a native of Quincy, Ill., who has caddied for Peter Jacobsen and helped him on his one-plane swing. (O'Connell's brother, Mike, currently caddies and is a business associate of Jacobsen).
After Kuchar won his first PGA Tour event last fall, Chris O'Connell posted a thorough two-part analysis of Kuchar's swing on [www.planetruthgolf.com.
In the blog posts, O'Connell says that a one-plane swing is defined as one in which the degree of tilt between the shoulders and the lead arm (left arm for righties) differs by no more than 12 percent. In the Kuchar backswing presents Kuchar's shoulders and arm match up very close: shoulders at 34 degrees, arms at 35.4 degrees. As an example of a two-plane swing, he shows a photo of Bernhard Langer, whose shoulders are at 20.1 degrees and arms at 50 degrees.
"Part 1 deals with why so many people view Matt's swing as overly flat and I do not," O'Connell writes in an introduction. "When a golf swing is too flat the golfer struggles hooking, hitting thin, and launching the ball in the air. He no longer struggles with any of these issues. Many commentators have said he has the flattest swing in professional golf ... I show comparisons of Matt against others to show why I think he is no where near the flattest swing in professional golf."
*-- Bill Fields