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Pressure Proof

Masters 2023: Jon Rahm's golf swing has a secret weapon in it

Masters 2023

J.D. Cuban

AUGUSTA, Ga. — Golf swings are fast, by nature. But Jon Rahm's is especially easy to miss. Blink a fraction of a second too long, and you might miss it.

It's not just that Rahm, who comes into the final round at the 2023 Masters in second place and two shots back of Brooks Koepka's lead, has a short backswing. He also a fast backswing.

That's not a coincidence. The literal speed of his backswing is a key power source for Rahm. It’s gotten faster over time as he’s gotten stronger, and it’s a key component that allow him to hit the ball so far.

Fast backswing, fast downswing

Biomechanist Dr. Sasho Mackenzie is one of the smartest men in golf today and the co-founder of The Stack Training Aid. He's studied the effects faster and slower backswing speeds have on overall clubhead speed, and found that quite simply, the faster the backswing, the faster the downswing.

Slower backswings have their upsides, especially for players who may lack upper body strength. But as he explains, the reason why is because fast backswings add clubhead speed is because they demand more from your muscles. You need to contract more forcefully in order to reverse the direction of the club, which adds more speed than you think.

"The muscles that power the downswing need to produce larger forces to stop a faster backswing," Mackenzie says. "This means they are producing higher forces at the start of the downswing, which results in more potential for clubhead speed."

Masters 2023

Ben Walton

And this could work to his advantage under pressure, says Brad Faxon, former tour player who is commentating for Sky Sports this week. His backswing is already so fast, Faxon says, that he's not prone to getting "quick" under pressure like players with slower backswings.

"It's always better to half a quick swing under pressure," he says. "Swings get faster under pressure, but his is already so quick."

It's a unique tempo, but one that Rahm has perfected. Under the gun on the back nine on Sunday, it could be just what he needs.