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Winning Swings: See how Rory McIlroy drives it so far

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[youtube id=”pQIQAv8E9TE” width=”620″ height=”360″]

Rory McIlroy stands only 5-feet 9-inches tall and weighs a mere 160 pounds, yet he’s able to drive that ball longer than all but a handful of the golfers on the PGA Tour. What’s his secret?

In the video above, I take a look at the moves in McIlroy’s swing that help him hit the ball unbelievably long (and pretty straight, too). I think it’s one of the best swings in professional golf today; good enough that we could be entering the Rory McIlroy era of major championship dominance.

As always, feel free to send a swing video to my Facebook page and I will do my best to give you my feedback.

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Dennis Clark is a PGA Master Professional. Clark has taught the game of golf for more than 30 years to golfers all across the country, and is recognized as one of the leading teachers in the country by all the major golf publications. He is also is a seven-time PGA award winner who has earned the following distinctions: -- Teacher of the Year, Philadelphia Section PGA -- Teacher of the Year, Golfers Journal -- Top Teacher in Pennsylvania, Golf Magazine -- Top Teacher in Mid Atlantic Region, Golf Digest -- Earned PGA Advanced Specialty certification in Teaching/Coaching Golf -- Achieved Master Professional Status (held by less than 2 percent of PGA members) -- PGA Merchandiser of the Year, Tri State Section PGA -- Golf Professional of the Year, Tri State Section PGA -- Presidents Plaque Award for Promotion and Growth of the Game of Golf -- Junior Golf Leader, Tri State section PGA -- Served on Tri State PGA Board of Directors. Clark is also former Director of Golf and Instruction at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort. He now directs his own school, The Dennis Clark Golf Academy at the JW Marriott Marco Island in Naples, Fla.. He can be reached at dennisclarkgolf@gmail.com

24 Comments

24 Comments

  1. TR

    Mar 14, 2015 at 10:39 pm

    No offense, just my opinion but the down the line camera is set up wrong in my opinion. It looks like he’s taking the club back outside because of where the camera is. So his downswing is not correct either because of this.

  2. Mike Gross

    Jul 23, 2014 at 10:31 pm

    The problem people had w Rory changing equipment, it seems to me, had little to do with the quality of Nike equipment, and everything to do with changing all 14 clubs all at once.

    • Dennis Clark

      Jul 23, 2014 at 11:39 pm

      I agree it was shocking. Throughout my playing days, there were certain clubs you couldn’t take from me with a weapon. And there did seem a period of adjustment- not to the brand, as much as the look and feel I suppose.

  3. Kirby

    Jul 23, 2014 at 1:14 pm

    As a gym owner and trainer. I will tell you he is no normal 160 lbs. For an average guy at the gym I would say he is over 200 lbs with the amount of muscle on him. All these golfers are fat, but have less muscle on them hence strength, if that makes any sense to these knuckleheads that are amazed that he hits it that far at that weight. Body fat % you idiots.

    • Dennis Clark

      Jul 23, 2014 at 4:14 pm

      so you attribute his conditioning to his ability to use the ground? When you train golfers do you work on lower body for that purpose?

      • Kirby

        Jul 25, 2014 at 9:41 pm

        I usually work on core, hamstring and glute strength. But most importantly, flexibility relating to the golf swing. I just get irritated with people that see a guy, any guy that size in great shape hit it long when they expect a guy who is 200+ lbs to hit it further when if that bigger guy measured his lbm it would be around the same or less than rory. I do find it refreshing that in recent years, golfers have finally began to realize that their physical condition can help their golf game significantly. Thank you Tiger and the new young guys and originally Gary Player.

    • nikkyd

      Jul 27, 2014 at 6:45 pm

      I was gonna say most golfers are the skinny type. Thats why they have to use their entire body to generate clubhead speed. Stronger guys that actually do real work for a living can generate more with less

  4. joselo

    Jul 22, 2014 at 3:37 pm

    great video, thanks for sharing!

  5. west

    Jul 22, 2014 at 11:35 am

    I still think he uses a non-conforming ball… 😉

  6. Jay

    Jul 22, 2014 at 10:28 am

    Love the analysis – thanks!!

  7. Dennis Clark

    Jul 22, 2014 at 8:55 am

    The thing to note about a video swing analysis is the CAUSE and EFFECT. The effect is fairly obvious, but there is usually, almost always, ONE primary cause. Over the top, under plane, whatever it is, the idea of looking at a swing is to find the CAUSE and correct it! There is no one position that is, in and of itself, right or wrong. It’s how it relates to the OTHER positions. DC

  8. microsoftlogin

    Jul 22, 2014 at 5:47 am

    He couldn’t hold Tiger’s jock at his age, the comparisons are LAUGHABLE, Rory is a STUD, but he will NEVER, never get to Tigers apex, he just won’t. People can hate Tiger ALL they want, the guy CHANGED the sport and was more dominant in “his” time then anyone ever, including Jack. Tiger is the man, and people choose to judge him as if they are his maker, rather than admiring and appreciating what he did for a dying sport when he came in.

    • Fred

      Jul 23, 2014 at 7:19 pm

      Totally agree, micro. Every time Rory or Martin, or Adam, etc., wins a tournament, they’re the next coming of Tiger. At the Open, Kaymer, who blew everyone away at the US Open, played worse than Tiger at Liverpool. Where was Bubba? Today, we have many great players on the tour – Rory, of course, being one of them. The difference between them and Tiger is consistency. None of them wins tournaments on a consistent basis; Usually they win one, then fade away for a while. We see it all too often. Last year, bad back and all, Tiger won more tournaments than many pros win in a lifetime. Each time one of these guys wins a major, he’s the next big thing. We hear that the Tiger era is over, and that Rory’s era is just beginning. People forgery that Rory has been at this game on the pro level for quite some time now. Yet, he’s come no where near what Tiger accomplished at the same age. I wouldn’t look forward to Rory wining the PGA. He might not even finish in the top 10. I’ll put my money on Sergio this time around, with Rickie right behind him.

      • Dennis Clark

        Jul 24, 2014 at 2:50 pm

        Fred, I totally agree. Tiger woods did things for 12-15 years that NOBODY has done or will do IMO. Missing 9 cuts in 18 years is stupid good! My review says nothing about Rory in comparison to Tiger, I said “the best SINCE Tiger” and clearly the best right now. When it’s all said and done TW’s legacy of greatness will his consistency over the prime of his career. As a golf history buff, I personally thing Tiger Woods is the best player ever. Just IMO…

  9. cb

    Jul 21, 2014 at 7:20 pm

    great video dennis, always a fan of your stuff. true its impossible to know what shot he was trying to hit and usually the camera angles arent perfect like they would be in a teachers bay, but you did a great job of identifying the key characteristics of his swing

  10. Bman

    Jul 21, 2014 at 5:18 pm

    I have several videos of Rory on my Data Analyzer software and they show his hands more in or straight back in the beginning with the clubhead on or just slightly outside of his hands. I think the camera angle on your video is way to the left and misleading as to what you are explaining.

    • Dennis Clark

      Jul 21, 2014 at 5:36 pm

      Well..I stood right behind him for two days at Pinehurst and I saw up close and personal what he did without parallax camera issues. And as my eye has been looking at golf swing for some 40 years, I’m pretty aware of what I’m seeing. He sets up left on most shots and swing the golf club along his body line (outside the line of flight). That is also what it appeared he did at the Open. Swings that go out need a loop back in. As a contrast take Matt Kuchar. If he had Rory’s down swing he’d be I serious trouble and we’d never hear of him. Granted camera angles are suggestive at best, and as the one viewer noted we do not know what shots he’s intending to hit. It’s just a 2-D flaw. But the article talks his ground use for power on EVERY swing, and compatible variations. Which most amateurs do not have.

  11. Dennis Clark

    Jul 21, 2014 at 4:41 pm

    True, we cannot know what he was doing with the ball; and we cannot tell real path on 2-D video and we have to allow for parallax issues etc. Video gets a bad rap in the 3-D era but my students love it and learn a LOT from it. The interaction with the ground however does not change. That is a power source regardless of the intended ball flight. Let’s put it this way: WHATEVER shot he hit here, I”LL take it: 🙂

  12. Billy

    Jul 21, 2014 at 4:31 pm

    Good video, Dennis.

    Question, how does he get a good downswing? Does he use the ground as he mentions, starting the hips and lag?

    • Dennis Clark

      Jul 21, 2014 at 4:44 pm

      He initiates his down swing with a good squat. If you were going to jump, you’d squat first. Push into the ground and it starts the kinetic chain needed in very good swing. It starts form the ground and works its way into the golf club. A true chain reaction. Glad you enjoyed it. Thx

      • Billy

        Jul 22, 2014 at 5:14 am

        Dennis, can I send you my swing for you to check out? I don’t have a FaceBook, I can only email you the file, if that works for you?

        If not, it’s ok.

        Thanks.

  13. chris liu

    Jul 21, 2014 at 4:13 pm

    no offense, but what i really dislike about these types of videos is the fact that we don’t get information on the type of shot he is trying to hit. Pro golfers rarely hit a “straight” shot, on tour at least. they are almost always working the ball, either fading, drawing, keeping the ball low, getting heigh on the ball etc. So how do we know which type of swing this is. maybe some of the thing we see here are only done due to the type of shot or some of the things are exaggerated due to the shot.

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Instruction

Should you strive for a flatter transition in your golf swing?

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A lot has been said recently regarding flattening the transition in the downswing. As a teacher for many years, I totally agree that this is clearly what highly skilled players do. Sasho Mackenzie, the great biomechanist from Canada, explains that when the center of mass of the golf club gets UNDER the hand path coming down, we get a much easier squaring of the club face.

There is, however, a difference in the players we see making this move and average amateur golfers. Nothing in the golf swing happens in a vacuum, so to speak. That is, every move has to complement the other moves and balance the equation. So when we see Sergio “laying the club down” (flatten) in transition, it complements or is in sync with the “delivery” he has into impact.

Sergio has Hogan-esque “lag” in his downswing. That is, his wrists stay cocked very late as he approaches impact. with a great deal of forward shaft lean. While this may be characteristic of all great ball strikers, his “flat” action is more pronounced than most. He lays the club down, downcocks his wrists and voila, strikes it solid.

The point here is when the shaft is laid off and flattened in transition, it cannot then be released early. Those who cast, or release early from a laid off transition are staring shanks right in the face, and feeling heel hits with the driver. The reason is the club is being cast out, not down when it is coming in on a more horizontal plane. When a professional flattens it, they then tighten the delivery with hands in and a narrowed arc into impact. This is a huge distinction, and one I feel is little understood. If you are working on laying it down, but are used to an early release, you may accomplish the former, but are asking for trouble on the latter. It has to be released later and tighter after the transition to work.

Another common error I see quite often is the hand path issue. Here I’m referring to to how far from the body the hands move on the down swing. If you are a player who transition steep (too vertical), your miss is very likely the toe of the club. As a result you develop a habit of sending your hands out and away from your center (the distal and proximal, in biomechanist terminology) to compensate for the toe hit and in an attempt to find the center of the face. That swing habit is common and will, at times, compensate for the steep transition.  So you can see why the club will be more likely to hit the heel if it is delivered on a more horizontal plane.

The point here is this: it’s the same theme that I have seen and written about for many years:  Golf swing corrections, if that be your goal, are rarely singular; the come in pairs.  And the reason it can be frustrating is because we have develop two new feelings, not one. Many golfers abandon the effort because the accomplish one without the other.

If, for example, you decide your transition is far too steep, and you flatten it but then cast the club (remember now OUT not DOWN) and hit the heel of the club or shank a wedge, you may say: “Hey, that’s just not for me; or that was WORSE, not better”. And you’d be right, the RESULT is likely to be worse- but maybe not the effort.  If you are committed to a swing change, it rarely comes with a singular correction.

Be sure you know what you’re in for when working on laying the club down ala Sergio, or Furyk, or Ryan Moore, when you are told you’re too steep starting down.  My advice would be to try and work on one thing at at time.  For this particular correction, I have my students ht balls on a sidehill, above the feet lie. This can orient you to a more horizontal swing feeling and then an only then can start to work on keeping the hands, arms and body connected (the “inside moving the outside”) for the completion of the swing change.

One final note on this: I want to repeat that any change is optional based on your current ball striking, not what your video looks like. Phil Mickelson is one of the best players EVER, and his swing starts down as steeply as any club golfer, and he swings his hand path out away from him as a result every time. Let me me ask this question: who among us would change the swing of a 44-time champion and five-major winner on the PGA Tour? Whatever works…

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Instruction

How-to Series: How to swing like a pro — golf swing transition

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How To Series: Transition

Now it’s time to focus on the transition—this part is probably the most important! Be meticulous in your practice. Start slowly and make sure you’re doing it properly before you speed things up. Get this right and you’ll see that it helps with power, too!

More info on hollow body and core movements: Core Movements – How the Legends Move Their Middle

This new series is all about helping you improve your golf swing quickly. We’re going to break the swing down into its component parts and give you specific practice direction—master these key elements of the swing and you’ll see improvement fast!

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Tip of the week: Dealing with downhill-sidehill lies

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In this week’s tip, Top 100 teacher Tom Stickney shows you how to play from downhill-sidehill lies and avoid a shot that flies well right of target.

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