24 June, 2012 by Bobby Clampett

What about Rickie Fowler?

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

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  1. Whoops. Don’t know if my first email was sent. Good analysis of Rickie’s swing, Bobby. His looks a little like yours, especially with the flat left arm. Matt Kutchar’s left arm works that way too, and he hasn’t done badly! The one think I see that wasn’t mentioned is that Rickie’s right arm is very straight at impact, where, ideally, it should have not only some bend in it but as much as possible. We might have called a bent right arm at impact a dynamic in itself (dynamic 6? pushing the Straight Plane Line into Dynamic 7), because it not only transfes power into the ball at ipact, but it’s bend literally AT impact does a lot to ensure a downward blow and a forward swing bottom as the impact interval progresses. Tiger too had a very straight right arm at impact, but Sean Foley’s teaching is helping him improve into this bent right arm impact state. Mickelson’s left arm (the equivalent of a rightie’s right arm) is often very straight with his driver swing at impact and I think that accounts for his wayard driving. If he ever learned/learn to retain some bend in that trailing arm, we may have had the rivalry with Tiger that we all dreamed about.

  2. Andy,
    Fantastic comment about the importance of the bent right arm. When you write a revised edition of TIZ, you should include that.

    Concentrating so hard on tring to get the swing bottom four inches in front can make me punch out my right arm at impact, and the has exactly the opposite effect. Keeping the right bent really helps me feel the worjhorse smashing the ball not an arm based flinch. this needs to be taught more.

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