Monday Swing Analysis: Yani's athletic move for power
Editor's note: Every Monday, 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 in 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 analysis was written after Tseng's win in the State Farm Classic in June. She picked up her fifth win of the season on Sunday in the NW Arkansas Championship.
__* Kevin Hinton: Yani Tseng has solidified herself as the No. 1 player in the world and the new dominant player on the LPGA Tour. Her win on Sunday at the LPGA's State Farm Classic was her fifth worldwide in 2011. She has one of the most athletic and powerful swing's in women's golf, averaging 271.3 yards off the tee and hitting more than 74 percent of her greens in regulation. Let's take a closer look at her swing to see how she creates her formidable combination of distance and accuracy:
In this first video clip the camera is shooting Yani's swing at about a 45-degree angle. I like to use this view in my teaching at times because it clearly shows how your body should work in your golf swing. In the backswing, look at the role that the left shoulder plays. It is doing two things: (1) turning behind the ball and (2) going down. Essentially, what this demonstrates is the importance of your shoulders turning at the proper angle. If you have too flat a shoulder turn, the likely result will be that you rise out of your spine angle and your head moves excessively off the ball. This can make consistent ball contact difficult. The opposite mistake is when the left shoulder only goes down, causing the shoulders to work on too steep of a plane. You would struggle to create enough power as your head might actually move closer to the target in the backswing (a definite no-no, especially with the driver).
In the downswing, we can clearly see how Yani begins with her lower body. This is the key to her transition, and is one of the main movements that tends to separate tour players from average players. As she approaches impact, notice how her hips begin to rise as she is using the ground for leverage ... super powerful. While Yani's body movements are quite conventional, one thing that you will notice with LPGA Tour players is that their body movements are often less traditional than those on the PGA Tour. For example, Paula Creamer and Natalie Gulbis have unique head movement in their swings, while other players are completely up on their toes at impact. The reason for this is that these are typically smaller-framed individuals swinging the club at high speeds. The club is producing a significant amount of centrifugal force and the body is not quite as strong as a man's, thus the unique body movements tend to develop. It is very common with kids as well. There isn't a right or wrong here, but rather the lesson is that perfectly conventional body movements are not a fundamental to great golf, and trying to "fix" or curtail a young player who has some of those movements could definitely hinder his or her potential.
Finally, notice through impact how beautifully Yani maintains the full extension of her arms. Her lower body being in front of her upper body is what allows this to happen, just as we see with other top players like Luke Donald at this point. From here she continues to rotate and finishes in a classically balanced position. Yani truly has a fantastic swing. At only 22 years old and already the No. 1 woman in the world, she just might dominate for a long time to come.