Jordan Fuller is a golf coach, dedicated to helping golfers all round the world. He has made the decision to compile all his knowledge on his website, Golf Influence, where he shares everything that he has learned during his career in easy to understand lessons. When I was a young golfer, I always admired the best players. I always wanted to play like them. Truth is, golf does take a while before you get a hang of it. And before you can even pretend to call yourself a good player. Back in the days, here is what my idol would say about golf:
Golf is deceptively simple and endlessly complicated; it satisfies the soul and frustrates the intellect. It is at the same time rewarding and maddening - and it is without a doubt the greatest game mankind has ever invented. Arnold Palmer
Following Arnold’s advice, I’d like to present to you an analysis of 5 of the best golf swings from the best players history has ever known. This will help you better understand how they think and what they do to be such great players.
Personally, I like to learn by doing - meaning that I take a look at what these golfers do well and I immediately try to replicate whatever it is they are doing. This has yielded great results on my end, especially when improving my golf swing in a short amount of time.
This is particularly critical for beginners and mid-players who are looking for the next best thing to improve their game. Aside from getting the best equipment, learning from those who made it as a professional is likely to be the best piece of advice that I’d give to this type of golfer.
In this article, I have hand picked what I call the ‘best of the best’. These are players that are highly-regarded as part of the golf Hall Of Fame.
The reason why I picked them is because I wanted to give you the certainty that these people represent figures of authority and that you can pretty much follow their lead blindly and you’ll still be successful. This is what helped to get to the level that I am at today.
Tiger Woods’s Swing
Tiger is certainly the most well known golfer today. Even the youngest generation is familiar with his achievements, good or bad.
First, let’s clarify one point: Woods has been changing the way he proceeds his swing during his career. Whether it was when he was a teenager or when he rose to international fame, he’s always adapted, improved and practiced heavily to make his swing one of the best swings that has ever existed. When I say that Tiger has “changed” his swing, I am not referring to the little alterations that a golfer does to his swing during his career - not at all. Here, we’re talking about complete revamps of his swing with Tiger every time adopting a totally new approach to how he handles his swing.
Let’s focus on Tiger’s latest iteration of his swing. This new overhaul of his swing was done under Sean Foley’s tenure as Tiger’s coach.
First, what one can notice immediately is the 50/50 weight distribution when he gets into position. This means the feet are perfectly aligned and are holding the same weight across the board. To replicate Tiger’s swing, you want to make sure you can, from the start, remain as aligned as possible with your feet. This is key as it will allow us to stay stable when the impact comes.
Second, when getting into the swing position, the head axis is perfectly aligned with his hands and the ball. Keeping the same axis ensures that the weight distribution is equally spread out between the left and right side of his body. You can verify this by looking straight at the golf ball and making sure that your hands are in the same axis between your head and the golf ball.
Third, as he starts with the backswing, you’ll notice that the load is proportionate and his head stays focused on the ball even though the rest of his body follows the backswing. Here again the backswing is maintained and brings additional benefits such as increased stability, parallelism of the feet and good preparation for impact.
Fourth, as he gets close to impact, you’ll notice one very odd thing: Tiger uses weight transfer a lot to gain power without forcing too much on his hands. This ensures that he doesn’t push too much forward and help him re-use the energy produced by the backswing to hit the ball.
In this sense, that is the combination of maintaining the right axis, holding up to a full backswing and using weight transfer as a way to re-use energy that make up Tiger’s swing.
Phil Mickelson’s Swing
Phil Mickelson goes with a totally different approach.
The main difference of Mickelson’s swing over all other players are the following.
First, Phil always maintains a 90 degree spine angle. This makes sure he gets the stability he needs when he is preparing for the backswing, or even more important, when he hits the ball. As you’ll have to rotate your body to go for the backswing, your body will naturally try to bend a bit and break that 90 degree spine angle - you have to get control and overcome this obstacle by forcing yourself to keep your spine angle steady. This is very important so losing the right spine angle degree means something is going to go wrong with the swing later on.
Second, Phil always keeps the club facing towards the ball. Always. This ensures he hits the ball very close to the center of gravity of the club and consequently will transfer as much energy as possible from the club to the ball. On your side, you have preserve that stability by rotating your club and hands together as you enter the backswing and prepare for impact.
Third, Mickelson uses some magic in his hands. Right at the moment of impact with the ball, Phil’s right hand literally bends and most of his right hands get off the golf club. What this does is allow enough spin and effect to be addressed to the golf ball. The golf club goes around the axis formed by the golf club. Consequently, the forearms rotate really hard to allow the golf club be to bent.
In a nutshell, Phil Mickelson’s swing is made up of a strong 90 degree spine angle, a club always facing the ball and a rotation of the golf club at impact led by most of the right hand coming off the club.
Adam Scott’s Swing
Adam Scott’s swing is fundamentally different from that of Woods and Mickelson.
Adam always keeps the club shaft parallel to the ground, allowing him to beautifully keep a constant relationship from the start of the backswing until he hits the ball. This creates great stability and allows him to be perfectly aligned.
His feet are very close to the ground and remain almost stable until impact. Only the right foot turns when he starts down from his backswing. As the club and feet remain on the same axis, this gives him great confidence that he has support from both his upper body and the club to hit the ball the way he intends.
To maintain this extra stability, he relies on a lower body slightly bent - this is fundamentally different from every other swing we’ve analyzed so far. Here, there are two axes: one between the hand and the ball, and one between his head and the ball.
Even though this could create distortion at first as the body has to adapt to both axes, Adam’s attention to details and hours of practice manage to alleviate this extra difficulty.
When it comes to the backswing, Scott’s entire upper body does a full turn which provides extra energy to speed up the golf club. At impact, this extra speed will lead to a longer golf shot distances.
This, combined with a strict spine angle which never moves, produces one of the greatest golf swings to date.
Justin Rose’s Swing
Justin Rose has the most classical golf swing of all the players we’re looking at in this article.
The reason is that there is not really something specific to Justin’s swing - it looks exactly like what golf schools teach about how to do a great swing - golf skills that you can easily learn yourself without paying for an expensive golf coach.
The consequence for Rose is that we can’t really define what a Justin Rose golf swing looks like. It just looks like any great golf swing but there isn’t really much that we could say, pertains to Justin himself.
Anyhow, here are some of the techniques that Justin does that you can take for yourself and try out on your game on the green.
The grip is very neutral, the spine angle is maintained across the body with a true change of angle between the upper and lower body.
His legs barely move when he is preparing for the backswing - in fact only the right knee moves, about 40 degrees to the right. The rest of his lower half remains incredibly stable.
During his backswing, his body axis matches the ball’s axis. The knees are very relaxed as he intends to go for the downswing, only the right foot open slowly as he gets closer to impact.
The arms remain straight and follow the club and the upper body.
As I said earlier, what Justin does is precisely what pros would refer to as a “classic swing”.
Louis Oosthuizen’s Swing
Louis’ swing is particular as it maintains body posture throughout the swing. Indeed, the knees happen to be completely straight and overall his body posture is set around two angles - one set by the upper body and one set by the lower body.
This leads to believe that the influence of body posture on Oosthuizen’s swing is not as important as it could be for other players. As a matter of fact, he seems to rely a lot more on his grip of the club than his actual body to deliver his swing.
What re-iterates on this is the position of this feet. They are completely open and seem nonreactive to what the rest of body is doing.
In terms of axis, the body of Louis is not very wide and very focused on the ball.
In this article, I tried to explain in details how the best and most influential players on the planet do their golf swing. Overall, I think it is very critical to learn how to achieve a classic swing (such as Justin Rose’s) before trying to copy very complicated ones, like Tiger Woods’ or Phil Mickelson’s.If you have any questions, feel free to write a comment. I read and answer to every comment.