When you scroll down and see Brooke Henderson's driver swing, you'll probably think If I tried that, I'd be in the hospital. Knowing the physical limitations of the typical amateur golfer, we won't disagree. But even if copying her physicality isn't realistic, her mental approach to driving is worth considering.
"I'm not technical at all. I really don't want to be thinking about my swing. I just want to let it happen," says Henderson, a four-time winner on the LPGA Tour, including the 2016 KPMG Women's PGA Championship, one of the tour's five majors. She also lost the same tournament by a shot to Danielle Kang in July. "If there's one thing for sure that I know I do, I'd say I'm trying to hit the ball as hard as I can."
No kidding. Henderson is only 5-foot-4, but she uses the combination of a strong lower body, hypermobile wrists and great timing to power through the ball like someone who is much larger.
That's not to say she's the longest on tour. France's Joanna Klatten is 14 yards longer off the tee on average. But Henderson's technique, including using a 48-inch driver (three inches longer than standard), could lead to even more distance as she matures, her father and coach, Dave Henderson, says.
Brooke, who turns 20 Sept. 10, began developing her powerful swing in the most unusual place. She was a goalie for the Canadian national girls' junior hockey team at 14, and that helped make her lower body very strong, Dave says.
"When you grow up playing goalie, you get used to carrying 60 pounds of equipment," he says. "You learn to use your legs for leverage and power. So it was easy for her to transition to swinging a driver."
Studying Henderson's swing here, look at how stable her lower body is until it's time to slash the club through the hitting area. Then her legs and feet come to life. The irony is that she learned to be stable on one of the most unstable of surfaces—ice.
“SHE KNOWS HOW TO USE HER LOWER BODY TO GENERATE POWER.”—JOSH ZANDER
"You might focus on how far she takes the club back, but the way she uses her lower body is very effective," says Golf Digest Teaching Professional Josh Zander. "Everything from how stable and grounded she is going back, to the way she shifts her weight, to her springing off the ground—it's all demonstrative of someone who knows how to use their legs to generate power and hit the ball hard."
Zander, who teaches at Stanford Golf Course and nearby Sharon Heights Golf and Country Club in Northern California, provides an analysis of Henderson's swing, and what you can take from it.
PRO-FILE: BROOKE HENDERSON
20 / 5-4 / Smith Falls, Canada
DRIVER: Ping G
BALL: Titleist Pro V1