He’s been in the golfing news a lot lately. Some considered the young gun, who dresses like a creamsicle, too inexperienced to play on the last Ryder Cup team and criticized the decision to make him part of the team without an official win on the PGA Tour. But he has silenced his critics of late. Being the son of a professional dirt bike racer, it is no wonder that Rickie plays fearless golf.
Rickie Fowler captured his first win of his young career this year at the Wells Fargo Championship in Charlotte, and in the process posted a personal best of four top 10 finishes in a row. He has vaulted all the way to 20th in the world rankings. At 5’9” and 150 lbs soaking wet, Rickie’s swing produces a lot of power. He currently ranks 43rd in driving distance on the PGA Tour with a 293.4-yard average while hitting 65% of the fairways. That’s good enough to be ranked #3 in total driving.
My friend Olin Browne (whose daughter has been dating Rickie for over 3 years) told me lately that Rickie finally found the right driver for his game. That has been the difference this year for him. The touring pros know that you find the right driver for your game – you don’t find a swing to fit the driver! This falls in contrast to how many club manufacturers design a driver then ask amateur golfers to change their set-up and swing to produce the best launch angle and spin rate. Most often amateurs are told to hit up on the driver to increase launch angle and decrease spin. Impact dynamics go out the window and the poor amateur is left searching the woods for his stray drives (though the launch and spin rates are good!)
Rickie is a self-described “feel” player. No instructor is teaching his swing style! He has many unusual things in his swing style. He addresses the ball with a very low hands position. The hands then start on a very flat, or inside plane, and lift late in the backswing. This causes the club shaft to go “above the arms” at the start of the backswing, to very steep or inside the shaft plane in the middle of the backswing, and then to laid-off at the top of the backswing.
So what makes his swing work so well? The key is in the IMPACT ZONE™ 5 Dynamics! Though his backswing is unorthodox, he does get the club fully loaded (Dynamic #3). He then lags this load beautifully at the start of the downswing (Dynamic #4) creating both a lot of quantity of lag as well as the quality of lag. He gets full participation of his workhorse (pivot, initiated by the drive of the hips) on his downswing, to deliver the lagging clubhead through impact. This produces the flat left wrist (Dynamic #1), four-inch in front swing bottom (Dynamic #2) at impact and delivers theclub shaftt down a straight plane line (Dynamic #5), right to his target (on his straight shots). Rickie is a model of the 5 dynamics and is a player who will be around for a while with more wins to come!
The photos come from another Golf Digest article and I have put my own captions using an “IMPACT ZONE” perspective. The numbers are meaningless.
Note the lower hands position at address, but he does create a very solid platform and is in a well-balanced set-up from which he can fully utilize his workhorse on his downswing.
Though the clubshaft is laid-off, the arm plane is very flat and the clubface is shut, Rickie is in a fully loaded position at the top of his backswing. Here he is creating the lag.
An interesting look at Rickie’s top of the backswing. Clearly this is the flattest left arm plane I have seen in a top player.
A good frontal view of Rickie being fully loaded at the top of the backswing
For Rickie to achieve this position, he would have to have great quality of lag and maintain his lag deep into the downswing before centrifugal forces lets it out.
Because Rickie’s hands move inside and on a very flat plane, the clubshaft is likely to be outside the ideal plane
Another view of Rickie’s top of his backswing, fully loaded and flat
Rickie has great quantity of lag and great quality of lag on the downswing
Rickie has a beautiful position here just past impact. Note the flat left wrist and how cleared his left hip is.
Photos courtesy of Golf Digest