Troy Mullins has worked with several golf instructors, but when the long-drive champion thinks about how she developed her swing, she says intuition deserves most of the credit.
"Learning the driver was difficult for me at first, because I only swung irons for the first few years when I began playing," Mullins says. "But I pick up things quickly, and coming from a track background [she competed in the heptathlon at Cornell University], I started doing what felt right for my body to do when I was throwing the shot put. It was similar."
Specifically, she discovered that generating power with a driver comes from a blend of lateral, rotational and vertical forces—just like it does when throwing an eight-pound shot.
"You can tell that she understands how the body should move," says instructor Trillium Rose of Woodmont Country Club in Rockville, Md., one of Golf Digest's Best Young Teachers. "Her positions, her angles at various points in the swing, she doesn't look awkward. She's doing it by the book. Her swing looks classically taught."
PRO-FILE: TROY MULLINS
AGE: 31 / 5-8 / Los Angeles
DRIVER: Ping G400 (9 degrees, 48 inches)
BALL: Volvik Vivid XT
GETTING BEHIND IT
Troy Mullins starts her swing like someone who competes in long-drive competitions, says instructor Trillium Rose. "She knows that she can create power with a big move off the ball. She even lets her left knee kick in and heel come off the ground to get all her weight on the right side of the body."
"She has great shoulder turn, but her hips turn a lot, too," Rose says. "Many golfers try to prevent that much hip rotation, because that resistance against the upper body helps generate torque. But she gets power by making as big a turn as she can. There's more than one way to do it."
As Mullins reaches the top, Rose says she has the look of Fred Couples. "That lead elbow is really straight. If that arm collapses, you lose the width you need to power through the ball. Also, most people who swing past parallel bend their body toward the target. But she's nice and tall."
LAG IT LIKE SERGIO
"It's pretty unusual with women to see the clubhead lagging so far behind the hands in the downswing, but she's got lag like Sergio," Rose says. "The combination of soft grip pressure and unwinding really fast with her pelvis encourages the type of lag you see in power hitters.
“SHE LOADS UP, PUSHES UP AND THEN HITS UP. THAT’S WHAT YOU WANT FOR DISTANCE.” —TRILLIUM ROSE
PUSH AND GO
Mullins plants her left heel and pushes straight up with that leg to increase hip speed, Rose says. "At the same time, she's pushing toward the target with her trail leg, like a sprinter off the blocks. That combination gives you so much speed. It's a great move to copy if you can."
As she strikes the ball, her swing is being supported entirely by her left foot. "Some long drivers still have a lot of weight on the back foot, because they're trying to launch it up," Rose says. "But she's able to hit up on the ball because of a significant amount of right-side bend in her torso."
Her right arm rotates over the left in the through-swing as a result of momentum. "If the club is coming from the inside through impact, the clubhead will turn over if your grip pressure is light," Rose says. "When instructors talk about fully releasing the golf club, this is a great example."