Monday Swing Analysis: Learn from Luke's classic move
*Editor's note: Every week, PGA professional Kevin Hinton examines the swing of a recent tour winner and tells you what you can learn. A Golf Digest Best Young Teacher, Kevin is the Director of Instruction at Piping Rock Golf Club, Locust Valley, N.Y., and is a Lead Master Instructor for the Jim McLean Golf School at Doral Resort & Spa. He also teaches at Drive 495 in New York. He has seen thousands of swings, and has helped golfers of all abilities, from rank beginners to tour players. This week, he looks at the beautifully balanced action of the new world No. 1 player, Luke Donald, who won the BMW PGA Championship on Sunday, defeating Lee Westwood in a sudden-death playoff. *
__There are so many good things about Luke Donald's swing that it is difficult to know where to begin. His tempo can only be rivaled by Ernie Els. He has impeccable balance and footwork. The club swings through simple and repeatable positions. Frankly, it becomes difficult to imagine how he would ever hit a ball very far off line. Oh, and he has also been one of the best putters on the PGA Tour for the last few years. I guess it's not that shocking he is the new No. 1 ranked player in the world. With that in mind, watch the video below for a closer look at the mechanics behind that beautiful swing, both from face-on with a middle iron and then up the line with a driver.
Let's start with what I think is the most recognizable characteristic of Luke's swing, his classically balanced finish. There are a couple of details that the amateur player should take note of. First, his hips are fully rotated, and his lower center (think belt buckle) is closer to the target than his upper center (think buttons on your shirt). This relationship should be
maintained throughout the swing.The only time it's OK for your upper center to move past your lower center in a full swing is well past impact and very late into your finish. This is an important key to proper sequencing of your body movements.
Second, look how he has maintained some of his spine tilt toward the target line all the way to his finish. Past impact he is in the process of standing up, but even at the finish his right shoulder is still lower than his left, maintaining some of his original spine tilt he had at address. Luke's beautiful finish is no accident. Rather, it is the culmination of the proper body movements that took place earlier in his swing. The camera angle on this video is excellent because it really shows how your lower body should work. In the backswing we can see how his shoulders turn more than his hips . . . approximately double. This difference is what Jim McLean called the "X Factor." This efficient coiling of the body sets a player up to maximize his power.
As Luke transitions into his downswing, it is very apparent that his lower body is leading while his shoulders are momentarily passive. This action increases the gap between the hips and shoulders (Jim later coined this the "X Factor stretch"). This allows Luke to come into an impact position where his hips are extremely open, and his shoulders are relatively square. This proper body sequencing throughout his swing are the keys to his consistent ball striking. Trying to copy Luke's finish is not enough. Rather, be sure to address the mechanics that allow it to happen.