*Editor's note: Every Monday, PGA professional Kevin Hinton examines the game 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, Kevin takes a look at the swing of Monday's winner at the Deutsche Bank Championship, Webb Simpson, and tells you how to increase your lag for more distance.
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Kevin Hinton: Webb Simpson won his second PGA Tour event in three weeks at the Deutsche Bank, but it was the way he cruised to his first PGA Tour victory at the Wyndham Championship, shooting 18 under par for the week, that really impressed me. The formidable combination of great driving and superb putting proved to be too much for any of his challengers. Webb ranked T15 in driving accuracy, while still averaging more than 310 yards off the tee. On the greens, he became the third-straight player to win on tour using a long putter, ranking first in the putting stat of "strokes gained." This is a new statistical category on the PGA Tour. It is a formula that was developed in tandem by researchers at Columbia Business School and MIT and is considered a more accurate evaluation of a player's putting performance.
So, what is the more important scoring club . . . the driver or the putter? An argument can be made for each. Fortunately for Webb, they are both an asset. Last week we discussed Keegan Bradley's break-through win at the PGA Championship, becoming the first player to win a major anchoring a long putter into his body. This week we'll discuss Webb's driver swing (see his swing here, filmed at the U.S. Open). Webb has all of the components of a powerful driver swing.
Here are his keys from address to finish. To help maximize your personal power potential, evaluate your swing in these key areas:
Webb's setup allows him to create an "ascending" angle of attack through impact . . . a wide stance, the ball positioned closer to his left foot, and his spine tilted away from the target (right shoulder lower than left). To hit the ball your farthest, you must swing up through impact. He also has a strongish left-hand grip, which typically leads to distance.
Webb has a wide takeaway, keeping his left arm fully extended to the top of his swing. His left arm looks similar to Ernie Els'. He has made a huge upper-body coil over a braced lower body. He also allows his head to move a few inches to the right. I haven't done the study, but in my observations, players that drive the ball farthest seem to move their heads the most off the ball. Restricting head movement in an iron swing can be a good thing, but it typically limits speed with a driver.
__ DOWNSWING TRANSITION__
This is a huge key to Webb's speed. As he begins his downswing, Webb increases the "lag" in his swing. Some teachers refer to this as "down cocking." Lag is the angle between your left arm and the shaft. At some point in your swing, the two will make a straight line. To produce
solid contact and to ensure the club accelerates into the ball, it is essential this straight line does not occur before impact. Ben Hogan looked very similar in his downswing at this point, as well as Sergio Garcia. So many amateur golfers struggle maintaing their lag into impact. As a solution, forget about maintaining it, try to increase it. Think of Ken Venturi's image of using a paintbrush. Swing the club back with very little wrist cock, then increase your wrist cock as you change directions and swing the club into the ball. You likely won't actually increase the angle, but maybe you'll stop throwing it away.
Here, Webb's head is well behind (to his right of) the ball, ensuring the club is ascending through impact. I often tell my students they should never have to clean their driver, i.e, it should never hit the ground . . . no divots with the driver! Post impact, Webb has beautiful extension of his arms, another great thing for the average player to copy
Webb gets to a beautifully balanced finish. His lower body is facing the target, and his shoulders have fully rotated past his hips. If all you did was try to copy this finish, you'd likely hit the ball quite well!