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Swing clinic

Remembering when Tiger Woods explained Anthony Kim’s swing ‘control’ secret: ‘The only player I’ve ever seen’ do it

February 26, 2024
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Donald Miralle

LIV Golf has all but confirmed that Anthony Kim will be making his return to professional golf at this week’s LIV Golf Jeddah event. Kim has become a sort of mythic creature since his last PGA Tour start in 2012. That mystique continued with LIV’s cryptic promo, released Monday, which shows a few quick hits of what appears to be Kim.

Yet while the video doesn’t say much explicitly about Kim’s return, the brief downswing shot confirms one aspect of Kim’s move that swing nerds will recognize: the choke down on the grip.

Kim, a three-time winner while playing on the PGA Tour, notably gripped down with practically every club in his bag, often three or four inches. It’s a move rarely seen in golf—Brooke Henderson is one of the few players to also do it. It's so rare that, in 2008, Tiger Woods noted this about Kim's move.

“He’s the only player I’ve ever seen that actually plays pretty much the entire bag choked up," Woods said during a Nike Golf clinic alongside Kim in October 2008. "It does provide a lot of control; you don’t hit the ball as far offline. You hit the ball very straight that way.”

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Sam Greenwood

When he was at his best, Kim had a simple, repeatable swing with few moving parts. Instead of getting bogged down with complicated swing theories, Kim kept things very simple and preferred to play with feel.

“I just do whatever feels right,” Kim told the small crowd. “I know that sounds pretty basic and pretty stupid, and it is.”

Basic? Yes. Stupid, perhaps not. Tiger explained that by choking down on the grip, “It provides so much more control.

“It’s amazing that a lot of amateurs don’t try and do that,” Woods said of gripping down. “They like to grip the club like in baseball, with the pinky off the club because some pros have taught them that if you grip the very end of the club, you get more whip at the bottom.”

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Brooke Henderson, along with Kim, is one of the few players to play most shots by gripping down on the club.

Thananuwat Srirasant

The problem with holding the club all the way at the end of the grip in order to create whip is that it creates “flash speed,” which Woods explains is difficult to time correctly. Instead, by gripping down, Kim found the center of the face more often. “Hitting the ball consistent and flush every time, that’s how you control your distances,” Woods said.

“It doesn’t [feel right],” Kim said of trying to grip the club normally. “Like Tiger, I grew up learning from my dad, and I used all his clubs. … They were cut down, way too heavy for me, so I started gripping it three, four inches shorter.”

In an age where speed is valued over all else, Kim’s move is a welcome reminder that for some, finding more control to hit the center of the face will lead to better results than making all efforts to gain another mile-per-hour of speed.

You can check out the entire clinic below, which is highly entertaining. Swing insight aside, the video reminds us of Kim’s charismatic appeal. Should his game not fully be back to form this week, we’re sure to at least get a few one-liners from him, like this one from the clinic 16 years ago:

“I really don’t know what I’m doing out there anyway,” Kim told Tiger.