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Video analysis: Rickie’s revamped swing

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Although he finished the season without a victory, Rickie Fowler proved to be one of the most consistent performers on the PGA Tour in 2014. He finished ninth in the FedEx Cup standings, second in the Team USA Ryder Cup standings and finished no worse than T5 in any of the four major championships — his work with Butch Harmon, which began last year, is paying off.

The swing changes that Butch and Rickie put into effect this season are some of the most drastic I have ever seen. The interesting part is that Butch is typically a “work within the existing swing” type of teacher. His work with Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson has produced only subtle changes, but the improvements in Rickie’s swing are day-and-night. It’s no wonder he’s been a mainstay on major championship leader boards on Sunday afternoons in 2014.

Take a look at the video below and see if you agree!

[youtube id=”mAvK8kYQoo0″ width=”620″ height=”360″]

If you’d like me to analyze your swing, go to my Facebook page and check out my online swing analysis program.

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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

75 Comments

75 Comments

  1. BigBoy

    May 10, 2015 at 10:19 pm

    The boy is back.

  2. Greg

    Sep 20, 2014 at 5:51 pm

    Nice going … I post a valid point and you delete it… I will try again. If you look at Ricky’s feet you can tell the two videos are from a slightly different angle. There is nothing wrong with your assessment, but you need to use two videos from the same angle to make those points accurately. imho….

    • Dennis Clark

      Sep 22, 2014 at 1:21 pm

      I deleted nothing.

    • Jeff R

      Sep 24, 2014 at 6:57 pm

      Agree, but would say these videos are considerably much different angles.

  3. Jack

    Sep 20, 2014 at 4:05 am

    I respect you Dennis, but these are not major changes. Rickey could have changed this in a day or two. I do believe that golf “teachers’ are a major reason people don’t get better. The golf swing is a pretty simply motion, that you all either can’t or won’t really explain to folks. Carry on…

    • Jimmy

      Sep 20, 2014 at 9:00 am

      The golf swing is not a simple motion at all, and there is not a chance in hell that it only took Rickie 2 days to implement these changes. Look at his finishes from the beginning of 2013-2014 PGA Tour season. That’s when he first started working with Butch, and he was not playing very well because he was making swing changes. But after MONTHS, not DAYS of working at this new swing, he started playing much better. The golf swing is anything but simple. Have you,(probably a hacker), ever tried to make even the simplest change in your golf swing, such as a minor grip change? It’s very difficult to repeat something just that small, let alone changing the position at the top of his swing or the position of the club head in relation to his hands on the take away.

      • Dennis Clark

        Sep 22, 2014 at 1:27 pm

        Agreed. As a teacher I can appreciate the degree of change and I think there is more to come. Going left thru impact for example.

    • Dennis Clark

      Sep 22, 2014 at 1:25 pm

      Interesting perspective. While you may find it simple others struggle with it. I only offer advise to those who seek it. And my corrections are from experience not theory. If you don’t think these changes are considerable I would respectfully disagree. Thx

    • Dennis Clark

      Sep 22, 2014 at 2:00 pm

      Do you teach golf? Curious.

  4. jim rebey

    Sep 18, 2014 at 8:56 pm

    First thing i notced is that his chin is up now and the 90deg of the right arm at top.

  5. Dennis Clark

    Sep 18, 2014 at 1:16 pm

    Interesting to note while on the subject of Fowler, he partnered with Billy Horschel in the 2007 Walker Cup matches.

    • John Mclane

      Sep 19, 2014 at 3:19 pm

      From a money ball approach to the Ryder Cup Billy Horschel would have been a much better pick for USA than Web Simpson. That was actually my captains pick even before he won the FEDEX. The USA team still hasn’t learned the lesson from the 1980 USA hockey team. Its not about getting the best players, its about getting the right players.

  6. The Man

    Sep 18, 2014 at 11:44 am

    Went from an unorthodox swing to a classic modern swing.

  7. Dennis Clark

    Sep 17, 2014 at 7:41 pm

    Seems like many of you got the message despite the different camera angles. There is a lesson in all these great players for anyone who wants it. In Fowler’s case the almost zero early forearm rotation, followed by a dramatic roll in the second part of the takeaway, put him in a laid off position at times. Butch hates the club laid off and behind. It’s one of his tenets as an instructor.

    • Dale Doback

      Sep 18, 2014 at 1:43 am

      This was a great analysis. I followed Rickie this year at the Bob Hope and he played very mechanical and uncomfortable missing shots all over but mainly pushes to the right. Fowlers misses seem to be getting much better and it is a pretty big adjustment he made in his swing in such a short time. While I wouldn’t call this an overhaul like Tigers, Harmon has defiantly softened his deep takeaway and his release doesn’t seem to be as dependant on his hand timing. Nice to see Fowler playing really well, I can’t wait to see him in the Ryder Cup. GO USA

      • Dennis Clark

        Sep 19, 2014 at 9:49 am

        Yes I agree. I teach hands more in front so body and arms can work together better, less independent. But Rickie is soooo talented he can make anything work????

    • Ian

      Sep 19, 2014 at 7:40 am

      Denis, really enjoyed that analysis. Obviously the camera angle made the flaws on the sling on the left look worse. But isn’t a club that’s laid off of the top most likely to come way out in front of the player? Just as a club that’s across the line has to come down steep and then shallow out too much leaving the club behind the player?

      • Dennis Clark

        Sep 19, 2014 at 9:42 am

        Ian, I know what you mean. Yes, but Here’s what to consider. The hand path vs the club position. “Laid off” means the club in under the PLANE of the hands. The hands travel in a direction and a plane. Example, inside, outside, up, down. How far the club head swings out is a combo of the path of the hands and the plane of the club. So when I see a player across the line at the top, the club usually starts down steep, and then they attempt shallow it out. They might shallow it by backing up, OR they might swing the hand path OUT toward the ball, like a Phil does. so it’s all individual. What I like about what Fowler is doing is keeping the hand path more in front with the club in line with the hands. This a bigger topic but that’s good for now. Great observation thought.

  8. Rob

    Sep 17, 2014 at 6:10 pm

    The lost art of camera angles…while his swing is much different this is a terrible video to try and use. You have one right down the line (video on the right) then the video on the left is shot about 3 or 4 feet away and at an angle. Lesson #1 in video analysis for golf instructors is CAMERA ANGLES!

  9. DeucePot

    Sep 17, 2014 at 5:43 pm

    Dennis,

    I appreciate the analysis camera angles aside. As you stated the angle will only affect the degree of change and not the point of your article. With professional level athletes even a small amount of change is significant and there are noticeable changes in the take away and position at the top. Watching Rickie in the latter half of the season I’ve seen a swing that he has confidence in, especially under pressure. On the whole he has avoided the tournament ending blow up holes or stretch of holes that his career had previously been full of. Many have missed the point of the article and even commented on the focus on a player who has not won much. Rickie is clearly showing a desire to be more competitive on the PGA tour and his new swing is in its infancy. Give him a little more time and wins will come.

  10. Mark

    Sep 17, 2014 at 3:54 pm

    So much written about a man who can’t win a tournament. Never has someone had so much media coverage for so few wins….

    • Dennis Clark

      Sep 19, 2014 at 9:51 am

      Can’t disagee with that. Rock star with one win. I wrote this piece because of change not status in game. Thx

  11. Konnor

    Sep 17, 2014 at 11:06 am

    Dennis,
    Your point is still more than made. The changes are significant to the naked eye but the videos further that point regardless of angles. Well done.

  12. adam

    Sep 17, 2014 at 10:24 am

    My most noticeable takeaway from his old to new swing is that he slowed his back swing down tremendously. I have since done the exact same thing and it has made a world of difference

  13. Jeffcb

    Sep 17, 2014 at 10:18 am

    I think respectfully that Fowlers good results are from around the green, not necessarily swing changes. He’s 108th in driving accuracy and 100th in GIR’s. However, he’ 17th in scrambling and 37th in strokes gained putting but he has seemed to me to make everything this year. My coach told me that under pressure with his new swing he’ll miss way right and by golly at the PGA on Sunday on 16 and 17 his tee shots were way right. Terrific year from him though

    • Stats

      Sep 17, 2014 at 12:30 pm

      Aha!
      That’s what I was looking for. Thank you.

    • Dennis Clark

      Sep 17, 2014 at 7:24 pm

      And what about his new swing will do that?

      • Jeffcb

        Sep 17, 2014 at 7:41 pm

        Dennis – I wish I could remember the reason

        • Dennis Clark

          Sep 18, 2014 at 1:14 pm

          We’d need to know his Trackman numbers honestly. On camera in seems like his path was quite right. With the club more in front it can go more left IF HE WANTS. But if you look at him going through the ball, he still seems in to out. But I agree the swing we’re seeing looks prone to pushes and hooks.

  14. Brian

    Sep 17, 2014 at 6:44 am

    Thank you for your great analysis. We all learn something from it…even the critics as they analyze your analysis. I might send you a video of my swing sometime.

  15. dunn2500

    Sep 17, 2014 at 3:04 am

    These vids aren’t from same angle so hard to determine exactly where his angles are at….

    Be Nice if you could use 2 examples from same angle…

    • dunn2500

      Sep 17, 2014 at 3:09 am

      These vids aren’t from same angle so hard to determine exactly where his angles are at….

      Be Nice if you could use 2 examples from same angle…

      Drawing lines against his body and camera is not even close to being in same spot so reference isn’t accurate….

    • Dan

      Sep 17, 2014 at 7:43 am

      Agreed!!

  16. Stats

    Sep 17, 2014 at 1:05 am

    Does anybody have the ball striking stats from before and after? Not scoring stats, just ball striking stats.

    Weird thing, I kinda don’t mind either swing. The new swing is more technical, being in positions to make it work, but the old swing was more about feel and I think that the old swing will stand up to pressure more than the technical one. With the new, more technical one I fear he’ll try to keep getting into the positions of the swing and forget to play with more feel to guide him in certain situations. Sure, he might be successful with the new swing and it might look good, but is it going to stand up long-term?

  17. TW

    Sep 16, 2014 at 10:23 pm

    Also seems to have a smoother follow thru to finish. The 2010 swing seems like a bit more loss of posture in the finish. Would love to have this swing

  18. Eric

    Sep 16, 2014 at 8:42 pm

    Dennis,
    I enjoyed the analysis, is it safe to say the big change was the takeaway and that led to a better position up top and because of that better position up top allowed for a better / more efficient downswing through the ball?

  19. Rickie Fowler

    Sep 16, 2014 at 8:33 pm

    Wow, what a bunch of tools leaving responses. Maybe these tools can write up the next swing analysis. Hostile bunch of pricks.

    • Eric

      Sep 16, 2014 at 8:53 pm

      agree completely with your comment!

    • Dennis Clark

      Sep 16, 2014 at 9:08 pm

      No need for that. Everyone stated their disagreements respectfully. That’s the great thing about golfwrx. We teachers interact with the readers In an open forum designed for everyone to learn. Thx

  20. nikkyd

    Sep 16, 2014 at 5:32 pm

    One thing i noticed this year, is that he has slowed his swing down enough to notice it.

    • Dennis Clark

      Sep 16, 2014 at 6:14 pm

      Over all tempo? He’s actually increased club head speed. His amazing ability to separate his lower and upper body creates a lot of speed. Thx

      • nikkyd

        Sep 24, 2014 at 10:17 pm

        Tempo, i should have said tempo. He just looks like hes taking an easier rip at the ball ( swing easy and live with the extra distance)

  21. Andrew Tursky

    Sep 16, 2014 at 4:05 pm

    Here’s a link for those looking for a more DTL view of Fowler’s pre-Butch swing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dEhpy6Mh-i8

  22. Dennis Clark

    Sep 16, 2014 at 3:33 pm

    The brilliance of Fowler’s move is the shallow early steepening into impact. If most golfers learned that move early in their career they’d be WAY better off than the reverse of that as most amateurs are; steep early trying to shallow.

    • Don

      Sep 17, 2014 at 3:03 am

      I agree. Now how could an amateur find that move? Can you help?

      • Dennis Clark

        Sep 17, 2014 at 6:06 am

        The horizontal component needs to be learned early. Very early. I start a lot of juniors out by hitting from high tees to ingrain an arc and the feeling of swinging around.

    • Not Brandel

      Sep 17, 2014 at 6:47 am

      In my opinion, in the new swing, fowler initially drops his hands in transition while the shaft steepens a hair. After that, the club shallows out into impact. I agree 100% that a hogan-like shallow to steep move is more agressive and effective than the fowler/Michelson pattern.

      • Dennis Clark

        Sep 17, 2014 at 8:11 am

        Having taught for 30 years over 25000 lessons I assure you it’s the way to learn golf. When you get under early you can turn into the shot. WAY better than backing up to shallow it out. Thx

  23. golfpunk46

    Sep 16, 2014 at 3:00 pm

    This in incredibly impressive! Thank you for putting this video together. Fascinating how much the change is.

  24. harrold

    Sep 16, 2014 at 2:49 pm

    the video on the left is a complete waste of time as its at an angle so any perceptions that are being drawn from that about his sling will be blurred. Should analyse swing videos from exactly DTL otherwise the viewer is getting poor information

    • Dennis Clark

      Sep 16, 2014 at 3:20 pm

      No still video is a waste of time. At least mine. The camera angles are slightly different but the changes are as I indicated. Watched him up close at Augusts when the changes were new and at Pinehurst. By that time the changes were considerable.

      • Rich

        Sep 16, 2014 at 7:58 pm

        Yes the changes to his swing are considerable. You can see it with the naked eye. However, harrold is right. The angle of the 2 videos is significantly different so there is a considerable parallax error in the position differences you are pointing out in the analysis. You should find a 2011 video with the camera directly behind him as with the 2014 video and then the differences will have more meaning.

  25. Chris

    Sep 16, 2014 at 2:39 pm

    My 2c to all instructors doing swing comparisons. Putting up camera angles that are this different shows either laziness or low quality standards, especially when the internet is full of Rickie swings. Even if you can still justify your assessment and what you’re saying is great info.

  26. Dennis Clark

    Sep 16, 2014 at 1:30 pm

    I’m always fascinated with talent and tend to seek our the less than orthodox swings to learn from. I watch Rickie up close every year at Augusta and I can state unequivocally that the changes are pronounced. He’s a gifted player.

  27. Dennis Clark

    Sep 16, 2014 at 1:25 pm

    To the point of the different camera angles: the changes I noted would not be different, perhaps just the degree of the changes. 2-D video comparisons are always subject to parallax issues but does any one actually think the club is not more in front of him? Or over him at the top?

    • Eric

      Sep 16, 2014 at 4:40 pm

      Wouldn’t the degree of the changes be an important distinction? You draw lines and make points referencing how different some of his positions are, all of which may be correct but also exaggerated and misleading because of the difference in camera angles. I agree with what you are saying since you can see everything even with the off camera angle, but think comparing all the lines you drew is pointless.

  28. TheFightingEdFioris

    Sep 16, 2014 at 12:51 pm

    As an instructor, are you not being borderline irresponsible by using two camera angles that differ so drastically? That aside, you did a great job here. Big fan of what Rickie has changed and it was a big risk for him to do it and prove there’s some substance behind that style. But I do think the swing changes are exaggerated due to the camera angles.

    • Dennis Clark

      Sep 16, 2014 at 1:21 pm

      Parallax issues are inevitable when taking videos off internet I agree. Irresponsible? I think not as the emphasis of my content would not change. Perhaps the degree of it.

    • Dennis Clark

      Sep 16, 2014 at 1:32 pm

      I love your screen name. How did you come by it? Can I guess you play with a very strong grip?

      • TheFightingEdFioris

        Sep 16, 2014 at 2:31 pm

        Lol Ed Fiori and I are opposites in almost every way on the course, but gotta admire a guy that could hold his own against the Big Cat. And you’re right, your message would have been the same no matter the camera angles. Again, I thought it was a quality analysis.

        • Dennis Clark

          Sep 16, 2014 at 6:30 pm

          I played with Ed. His nickname was “grip”! Thx

  29. kyle

    Sep 16, 2014 at 12:43 pm

    Not a very good analysis.
    It would be a lot better if you compared videos that were shot from the same angle. The camera angle for the 2011 video makes the hands seem further outside his hip at the top of the swing, and since it is shot from significantly higher than the 2014 video it makes the arms appear further below his shoulder plane much sooner.
    Ricky has made a lot of changes, but the camera angles exaggerate the differences.

    • Dennis Clark

      Sep 16, 2014 at 1:19 pm

      Direct down the line videos are hard to come by unless you film them yourself. Have you filmed any yourself? Or can you find any more accurate? If so send them. The point I’m making will not change I assure you.

      • Pat

        Sep 16, 2014 at 2:06 pm

      • kyle

        Sep 16, 2014 at 6:43 pm

        Dennis,
        Honestly you seem a little defensive, because I didn’t think much of your analysis. I can understand that. But some of your conclusions are based on the camera angle. I just looked up a better angle dtl view (around 2011-2012) and Rickie’s hands were barely outside his hips at the top of the swing (unlike in your analysis).
        As I said the general ideas line up regardless of the angles, but it would have seemed much better done if the angles were the same. If you couldn’t find a better angle for the 2011 video, no worries, you could have just said that.

        • Dennis Clark

          Sep 16, 2014 at 7:45 pm

          Not defensive at all. The video I chose was a different camera angle and you’re correct in pointing it out. You started out saying “not a good analysis”. My response says it is a good analysis despite the different camera angles because it indicates his changes. Are you a teacher? Do you do a lot of video work? Curious. Thx for interest.

        • Dennis Clark

          Sep 16, 2014 at 8:02 pm

          Not defensive at all really. Your opening statement was “not a good analysis “. The video I chose was a different camera angle and you’re correct in pointing it out. But the analysis has other lessons beyond the parallax problem caused by the video I chose. Namely: big changes are rare in great players and his is noticeable from any angle. My editor and I found a better camera angle and posted it above. When I return to my golf academy I’ll comment on that angle.

  30. TheLegend

    Sep 16, 2014 at 11:49 am

    Very interesting!

  31. Nick Cinzilla

    Sep 16, 2014 at 10:41 am

    Dennis, it looks to me like Fowler is taking the club a little steeper on the backswing, so that his left arm intersects his right shoulder, instead of being shallower and underneath his right shoulder. Would you say that this is more of a one-plane position at the top? If not please explain. Also, Harmon seems to favor most players hitting a cut versus a right to left shot. What is your opinion about that?

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