Congratulations to Rickie Fowler for winning the 2015 Players Championship and claiming his second PGA Tour victory. Rickie decided at the end of the 2013 season that he wanted to make some changes in his swing to help pick up more speed and also help him save his lower back. Here we are in coming up to the middle point of 2015 and Fowler's swing changes are really starting to take shape.
In the past, Ricky has battled with ripping the hands way to the inside and holding the clubhead shut and outside his hands in the takeaway. This position would normally cause players to have very steep shoulder rotation and make the golf club cross the line at the top. However, Rickie did a great job fighting the across the line move off and worked to a very flat position at the top of the swing, resulting in a very flat downswing and club path working drastically from the inside.
In order to fix this problem, Fowler added what we call at RST "shoulder elevation". Shoulder elevation (arm elevation) is just a slight gradual upward movement of the arms that happens during the takeaway. By adding elevation to the swing, Rickie was able to keep the club moving on a good plane and more in line with his hands at a completed takeaway.
Once the elevation was added to the early part of the swing, fowler could now work to a more vertical position at the top of the swing. Having the arms in a more elevated position equates to a really important factor in the golf swing...speed! Fowler's new elevated position now allows him to get the arms more out in front of the body in the downswing and coming down on almost a perfect plane and not drastically from the inside. More importantly, because the arms are not so flat at the top of the swing, he does not have to rotate his body nearly as hard in the downswing, thus allowing him to preserve his back so he can play this wonderful game for years to come.
If you struggle with a poor takeaway, then you need to check out one of our most popular videos called "Move 1 - Takeaway". To better understand shoulder elevation and set yourself up some checkpoints for practice, check out the "Pool noodle shoulder elevation video". These 2 videos will get you well on your way to moving into a perfect and consistent takeaway position every single time you pick up a golf club.
If you have struggled with getting the golf club stuck or coming too far from the inside, check out a great drill known as "trace the plane line". This drill will show you how to get the club coming down on a perfect plane just like you saw Rickie Fowler do in this video.
It is important that you understand the cause and effects of swing change, so that you have a clear picture of "how" and "why" you are making the changes and "where" you are going to ultimately end up.
We are back with this week's tour analysis on Rickie Fowler, who was able to win the 2015 Player's Championship in an awesome, awesome playoff, and one of the richest purses in golf, so $1.8 million awarded to Rickie Fowler for his phenomenal play over the weekend. We're going to be focusing in on a couple of the swing changes that he's been able to make and how it's been able to, with him correcting things early on in the golf swing, it's ultimately allowed him to get into a better spot at the top, which in turn has allowed him to pick up a little bit more speed. Also, he's now protecting his body a little bit more down in the hitting area. Let's go ahead and take a look at this.
Okay, guys. As I said in the opener, we're going to be focusing in on some of the changes that Rickie Fowler's been able to make over the last couple years. Ultimately it's been able to get him a little bit more distance and also protect his back, because late in the 2013 season I know Rickie was struggling a little bit with some back pain. Hopefully these changes have got him into an area where he's protecting his body. He's obviously swinging much more efficiently here, picking up a good seven yards on average from where he was back in 2013. We're just going to spend some time going through some of these changes, just so you can see how the cause and effect relationship works with some of these moves that he's been able to overcome and make much better.
Just taking a look here, over on the right hand side of the screen I have the golf swing of old. I've got an elbow plane line drawn. This is where it's up from the golf club up through the base of the elbow. You'll see us use these lines very frequently around the website. You're going to go ahead and see a very big difference here as we start to get into a completed takeaway position here. Okay. Notice how his hands have worked down towards his trail thigh here. All right? You can see how that worked really. He's been noted for dragging his hands to the inside, trying to hold the club out in front of him, where this is one of the newer changes that we see out of his golf swing here, so getting into it. Completed takeaway position here. You can see that his hands are much higher up in relationship to the plane line here. The hands are not working inside towards the thigh. The club head's more in line with the hands here.
In turn what this little bit of elevation has done for him, it's going to allow him to work his hands and arms more into the vertical plane and get into a little bit more of a vertical position at the top of the swing. I'll get further into that in just a moment. If you've noticed that your hands are getting pulled too inside, you might be lacking a little bit of shoulder elevation. We've got a good video on the website called The Pool Noodle Shoulder Elevation video. All that is is just a slight upward movement of the arms coupled with some rotation. That in turn will get you into a very textbook looking position here, which will make it much easier for you to get things into a vertical position at the top of the backswing.
All right. From here, on the right hand side of the screen you're gong to see that hands are inside, and then up into the top of the swing notice how low his lead arm is in relationship to his shoulder line. This is a much flatter position. Then now that he's got a little bit more elevation from the earlier on part of the golf swing, now you can see that his arm, his lead arm, is much higher in relationship to the shoulder line. Now, it might not look like a big, drastic change to you at home, but this is a pretty good sized change for a golf professional. Now, with having the hands and arms into a little bit more of a vertical position up here, this is in turn going to allow him ... he tends to allow the club to get really flat coming down, or used to allow the club to get very flat coming down.
You're going to see over here, as his hands and arms start to drop, his club comes in very shallow. You can see where his hands are. They're approaching the trail thigh. This is where the club head is. You can see how quite a bit low it is in relationship to the plane now here. Now, with this new move, a little bit more of a vertical position, you can see that this club gets on the plane line very early. Hands are approaching in front of that. Trail thigh stays on the plane line here and delivering the golf club from a much, much better able of attack here, a much better path. This is a great change that he's made in his golf swing. In turn he's been able to pick up more distance with it and also been able to protect his back. It's great news for Rickie and his future within the game of club. He's just going to continue to get better, better, and better.
All right, guys. Just a couple of things that I want you to take notice of or work on. If you notice, like I said, that your hands are getting a little bit flat and to the inside, you want to work on making sure that you add a little bit of elevation to the mix. If you've had a really difficult time with creating a very consistent takeaway, then one of our best videos on the website is Move One, The Takeaway. We just talk about a slight two inch movement of the shoulder blade in towards your center. That helps create some very consistent movement. You can couple that with the shoulder elevation there, the pool noodle video, and in turn you'll have a very good position to start to work up to the top part of your backswing.
Then for those of you players that have been noted to get the club a little bit stuck and a little bit flat on the way down, we have anther great video that's called Trace The Plane Line. That's a video that we talk about how to get the club a little bit more out in front of us on the way down and ultimately get into a better angle of attack and a better path. Check those videos out, guys. That's going to be to the right of the video players. There's a tab that says recommended videos. Just click that tab. You'll see those video populate, and you'll be well on your way to making some great golf swings. All right, guys. I wish you all the best. Now let's make it a great day.
-Dr. Jeffrey Broker, Assoc. Prof. in Biomechanics at University of Colorado at Colorado Springs and Former Senior Biomechanist for U.S. Olympics Committee
-Hub Orr - Happy PREMIUM MEMBER of RotarySwing.com
-Sam Jarman, PGA Golf Instructor in the UK