The name of the game with this modern swing? Smash it high and hard
Only a few players come to the world’s professional tours with the “can’t miss” tag. It stems from a top amateur pedigree and the power and polish to compete with the high-horsepower modern stars.
Jon Rahm brings it all.
A two-time Ben Hogan Award winner as the best player in college golf, the Spaniard had an impressive 2016 professional debut, recording two top-threes in his first four starts on the US PGA Tour. In six events, he won more than $1 million and earned full-time status for 2017 then claimed this year’s Farmers Insurance Open near San Diego.
“Driving is the best part of my game now,” he says, and his long-ball statistics back it up. His money shot is the same one favoured by another notable bomber with a similarly bowed left-wrist swing – US Open champion and 2016 PGA Tour Player of the Year Dustin Johnson. “A high fade is my go-to shot,” Rahm says of his 280-metre rockets. “I can hit it hard with low spin, and I still get good launch and consistency. I don’t quite get it out there as far as DJ, but I hit it far enough.” Plenty far from what these swing images imply.
Everything in Rahm’s set-up – from ball position to stance width – is designed to produce maximum height and carry distance, says Golf Digest Best Young Teacher Shaun Webb of the David Toms Golf Academy in Shreveport, Louisiana. “He’s set up to gather as much club speed as possible to smash it.”
Stretch It Out
Where do tour players look most different from weekend warriors? Halfway back is a key spot. “Look how extended Jon’s arms are. Most amateurs do the opposite and have the club close to the body,” Webb says. “And his wrists are beginning to close the clubface. Slicers have the face open and pointing behind them.”
Pushing off produces more speed in your downswing, but timing is important. “Jon has already started shifting pressure to his lead side by the time the club gets to the top. Many players wait too long,” Webb says. The tip: move pressure to the inside of your lead foot just before you finish the backswing.
Unwind, Don’t slide
Rahm says his miss comes when his hips slide too much laterally towards the target. “Here, he’s unwinding but not sliding,” Webb says. “He haseven more pressure on his lead side, and now he can rotate his body as hard as he wants. This is a big reason tour players hit it so high, hard and straight with the driver.”
Turn and Burn
One hallmark of great ball-strikers: they keep their body rotating through impact. Players who make poor contact tend to stall their body turn and make mostly an arm swing. “My focus is getting my shoulders moving and keeping the club in front of me,” Rahm says. “When I do that, everything is usually fine.”
To check if you’re fully unwinding through the ball, see if your chest and belt buckle are, at least, facing the target when you finish. The speed Rahm unleashes pulls his arms into full extension. He has turned his shoulders beyond the target. They’ve gone all the way around and are facing left of it.
22 / 188cm / 100 kilograms
TaylorMade M2 10.5 degrees