What you can learn from Rickie Fowler – The recent winner of the 2016 Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship
Rickie sets up to the ball in perfect posture, bent forward from the hips keeping his spine nice and straight, flexed at the knees. His arms are hanging freely down from his shoulders and away from his legs. Rickie’s set up is very athletic and dynamic. I really like how the clubhead is hovering just above the ground, this helps to reduce the tension in the hands, arms and shoulders which is key for longer distance.
Rickie’s first move away from the ball is a one piece take – away. This is where the shoulders, arms, hands, and club move away from the ball together. Hovering the club at the address helps to create this and this really sets up the rest of Rickie’s golf swing. Rickie and his coach, Butch Harmon, have worked really hard on creating this setup. Rickie used to take the club away from the ball very closed and outside the target line and this forced Rickie to re-route the club in the downswing, which was to much from the inside causing a lot of inconsistency in his golf.
This is a perfect checkpoint of the backswing – When the club reaches parallel to the ground it should also be parallel to the target line. Notice how the toe of the club points up towards the sky – this is a square clubface. Rickie’s old position when reaching this point would see the clubface in a very closed position with the clubface pointing more down towards the ground and the shaft of the club would be pointing left of the target line.
Rickie gets into a perfect place when reaching the midway point of the backswing. The shaft of the club is pointing directly down at the target line which shows that he is swinging the club on plane.
On reaching the top of the backswing Rickie has fully turned his upper body over a very balanced and stable lower body. Rickie has let his right leg straighten a little which is perfectly fine as this allows the hips to rotate, which supports the upper body rotation. Another thing I like about the top of Rickie’s backswing is how the clubface matches up to the left arm, this shows that the clubface is once again square to the arc of the swing.
One thing a lot of golfers can learn from Rickie here is how he starts his downswing. The downswing should start from the ground up with the weight transferring from the inside of the right foot to the left foot. This is achieved by the knees and hips moving across towards the target. Notice how Rickie keeps his back facing the target for as long as possible as this keeps the club moving down on plane.
Rickie is still unwinding from the ground up and is delaying the upper body from opening up to early. The swing is nicely on plane where the shaft of the club once again points at the target line. This will lead to a great swing path through the hitting zone and a lot of power.
The club is arcing in towards the golf ball really well, he is still unwinding his body via the hips and legs and this chain reaction creates a lot of speed in the upper body. This produces a ton of clubhead speed and therefore explosive distance.
No holding back here!. Rickie’s arms are fully extended which releases the club in a freewheeling motion through the ball, this is something that should naturally happen. A lot of golfers I see collapse their arms through impact which robs them of clubhead speed and therefore distance.
Perfectly balanced in his finish position, this is a good trait among all the good players on tour these days and something that many amateurs could learn from.
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