Smooth Power

Why Ludvig Aberg's powerful golf swing looks so smooth

September 25, 2023

Richard Heathcote

Hitting a golf ball is one of the most difficult tasks in all of sports. So how is it, exactly, that 2023 Ryder Cup rookie Ludvig Aberg manages to make it look so easy?

The answer to that question lies in their golf swing, with one specific motion. It’s this motion that is, in many ways, the secret to a silky smooth golf swing—and the kind of effortless power we all wish was our.

Let’s take a closer look.

When a long-hitting golfer makes the task of swinging a golf club look effortless, they almost always become an instant sensation. Legendary pros like Sam Snead, Ernie Els and, of course, Tiger Woods, spring to mind.

Add Aberg to the list. Few players have amassed so much hype as quickly. Aberg's near-flawless technique—buttery tempo, paired with his impressive results—have his European Ryder Cup teammates gushing.

Just ask Rory McIlroy:

“He’s special, he really is. He’s an unbelievable ball-striker. He’s proved to a lot of people he’s obviously worthy of a pick.”

To understand how Aberg's minimalist technique launches such high, booming, laser-straight drives you have to understand a concept called hand path.

Hand path, explained

Dr. Sasho Mackenzie is one of golf’s leading biomechanists and founder of the Stack training aid. He has studied power extensively in the golf swing. Basically, golfers generate power in a few different ways, but the most important of all these factors is hand-path length, which is the length your hands travel on the backswing.

Pros on the whole have a much longer hand path than amateur golfers. The average single-digit handicap has a hand-path length of around 50 inches or shorter.

(A good reminder for the rest of us: to work on your flexibility, and to focus on completing your backswing turn, especially on the first tee)

The average PGA Tour pro has a backswing hand-path length more than 60 inches. And because tall players have longer arms, their hand path can stretch even longer, sometimes past 70 inches.

Aberg, who stands 6-foot-3, benefits from this. The club itself doesn’t even reach parallel, which to the naked eye makes it seem like he’s not making a big swing. But that’s something of an optical illusion. Aberg's tall frame and long arms means his hands are traveling a deceptively long distance. The same thing is true in fellow Ryder cup rookie bomber Nicolai Hojgaard’s golf swing.


Octavio Passos

You can see it if you look closely at the very end of their backswing. Whereas shorter hitters have their hands finish more to the side of their body on the backswing, tall golfers like Aberg and Hojgaard stretch their way back behind their head. Far past other players whose swings appear longer to the naked eye, based on the clubshaft.

Why it's important

A longer hand path allows your muscles to stretch before exerting on the backswing. Crucially, it also gives your hands, arms and club a long time to accelerate, and gather speed smoothly, without any need for jerkiness or forced acceleration

When your hands have completed the backswing, they effectively start the downswing from scratch, at 0 mph. The more time they have to speed up, the more speed they’ll transfer into the golf ball.

It’s really no different than a plane accelerating down a long runway before taking off. If the runway was too short, the plane simply wouldn’t have enough time to reach top speed. It needs time to ramp up, just like your golf swing.

The further your hands travel on the backswing isn’t the only factor in distance, of course. Jon Rahm is perhaps the best counterexample: His hands travel a shorter distance than many of his peers, but he still boasts plenty of power through sheer brute force.

But that, in essence, is the reason Aberg's swing looks smoother than most. Blessed with a big frame, trained to make a big swing, and athletic enough to maintain his balance and swing fast during it all. The result is a forceful action, somehow made to look simple and effortless. The kind of golf swing that defies belief, and one that we’ll be mesmerized by for years to come.

Once again, you can watch the full video right here: