Chicken Wing at Impact?

Lee Westwood is an exceptional ball striker and a contender in almost every major championship.

The interesting part about Lee's swing, which I regard as somewhat unique, is his impact position. Is that a chicken wing? Surely that cannot be good? Remember that the only factor that matters is the physics (forces and angles) that the golf club imparts on the ball.

Retief Goosen is the another premier golfer who gets into this impact position, although to a much lesser degree. In looking at the top picture notice that the handle of the club is positioned in line with the lead thigh.  This is the key element. With the driver, the shaft should be vertical or leaning slightly forward, as in the Westwood image, but with irons there should be a few degrees of shaft lean. As a result the hands should once again be aligned with the lead thigh.

The moral of the story - get the club in a great position, relative to the ball, at impact and good things will happen - chicken wing and all.

Should your chicken wing not be quite as functional as the two players above here is a little help:

The Modern Tour Golfer

Lee Westwood
Lee Westwood

John Huggan makes an excellent case for the modern touring golfer being satisfied with second place and a hefty check versus winning trophies and titles. And he uses Lee Westwood as an example!

 He had this from Peter McEvoy, two time British Amateur Champion:

We live in a golfing world that does not breed winners. Part of that is the money, which is the root of all golfing evil. If we created a different competition, one where the pros put their own money in and it was winner-take-all, a very different animal would evolve. He'd be a golfer who took chances and went for his shots. And he wouldn't be a guy who was happy to churn out yet another eighth place finish and collect a nice cheque. The whole thing is self-perpetuating and has created a system where a high level of mediocrity is over-rewarded

He also had this from Ben Crenshaw on the role of coaching; a man who grew up under the laissez-faire tutelage of famed instructor, the late Harvey Penick:

Ben Crenshaw (Time)

Sometimes I question the teaching of the game. I hate to use the word 'stylised', but it seems that way to me, everything in the same box. I don't see some players able to adjust on the course. You have to be able to do that on the course, especially when you are not playing well. It's no good waiting until you can go back to the range for the answers. They are relying too much on the guys standing behind them.
May I just say that I could not agree more with everything Mr. Huggan presents in his profound article. There is too much money, too much instruction and too much coddling on the major professional golf tours.  Touring golfers are becoming "Fat Cats" that can pick and choose where they would like to cash their next $200,000 check.  Tim Clark has never won on the PGA Tour, yet has earned almost $15 million! They travel in style with their own entourage from caddie to masseuse and everybody in between. Aaron Oberholser once stated that the last thing a professional needs is a "guru" - true words! They all know how to play golf and beyond another pair of educated eyes, they need to get to the business of playing winning golf.
I'm afraid to say it but all the money has made them soft.

Masters 2010: Thrilling Lefty Wins Green Jacket

Mickelson is Master again! (AP) Eighteen of the last nineteen years the winner has come from the final group out on Sunday at the Masters; Tiger has never won a major championship when coming from behind on a Sunday; Phil has three majors while Westwood only has a handful of close calls; we should have seen it all along - this was Phil's event to win or lose and when he grabbed the event event by the scruff of the neck on the 13th hole Sunday with an emphatic six iron from the trees, he showed he had clearly opted for a courageous and thrilling victory!

While watching the broadcast I could not help but think back to the "old" days when players had legitimate shots at making eagles and birdies on the inward nine that always made for the most exciting finish in golf. The difference this year was that players seemed to have that ability on the front nine as well. I eventually lost track of all the eagles being made in my giddy stupor over how much fun this golf tournament was to watch. From the freak pine stamen event on the second green, to Tiger's hole out on the 7th, to the most fun sand shot I have ever seen (Westwood, also at the 7th) the front nine gets my vote as the most thrilling nine holes of any major championship in recent memory.

If only the powers that be at Augusta National could comprehend how much the golf community enjoyed seeing Couples, Watson and Langer have a chance; how much we enjoyed watching the youthful passion of Anthony Kim shoot 31 on the back  to be in with a chance; and most of all some of the memorable shots that were played from the most improbable places on the golf course. This course set up, coupled with the near perfect conditions, made for a Masters of old - one where the roars replaced the groans and red replaced black on the large manually operated scoreboards. Please keep this balance between difficulty and achievability because it was so much better than what the last few years have held. Who cares what the winning score is? A week from now no one will remember. You got it right this year (with a little help from Mother Nature!).

Here are a few interesting points I noticed:

Choi and Woods were in sync all week (Tielemans/SI)

  • KJ and Tiger played together all four days and matched each other on the scorecard every day. I wonder when the last time that happened was?
  • The Phil Mickelson "pine stamen" incident on the 2nd green was the freakiest thing I have ever seen on a putting green - watch the footage here. Bobby Jones always spoke about destiny; what did this mean? Absolutely nothing in the end.
  • Jason Dufner birdied the last three holes (16, 17 and 18) on Friday to make the cut at +3!
  • When Anthony Kim gets hot lookout! I doubt if there are many players, Tiger included, who can match him shot for shot.
  • Sergio Garcia scored 154 (+10) on the weekend in perfect conditions. Whaat? How can a golfer with such talent underachieve so well? It must be due to the fact he is playing against more than just the other golfers in the field each week.... Bad, bad attitude.
  • It was good to see Adam Scott and Trevor Immelman hang in over the weekend and both finish in the top twenty.
  • Y.E. Yang is a tough customer and never even got a glimpse or a mention - even after a solid 70 and another top ten finish in a major.
  • Matteo Manassero is a name that we will be hearing for a very long time time. Not only did he post an excellent final score, but he did exceptionally well in most of the stat categories. He hit the second most fairways for the week!
  • I find myself completely unable to root for Tiger Woods.

Stats for the top five finishers: (out of 49 players who made the cut)

Driving Distance

Mickelson 2nd / Westwood 6th / Kim 38th / Choi 42nd / Woods 19th


Mickelson 5th / Westwood 1st / Kim 10th / Choi 4th / Woods 17th


Mickelson 45th / Westwood 43rd / Kim 46th / Choi 24th / Woods 38th

Total Putts

Mickelson 13th / Westwood 36th / Kim 6th / Choi 5th / Woods 3rd


Quote of the Day goes to Phil Mickelson when asked about the difference between a great shot and a smart shot:

A great shot is one that you pull off and a smart shot is the one you hit when you don't have the guts try it!


A Friend in Need..... (Getty)

Complete Final Leaderboard

Putt Like Phil by Dave Stockton Sr. (Phil's new putting coach)

What's in Lee Westwood's bag

This Masters Week was Hard to Beat by John Steinbreder

The Golf Swing and Foot Work

Let's take a look at each slide and the corresponding position of Lee Westwood. Address: I like the way the weight is evenly spread here. The head should be centered between the feet and if this is the case the foot pressure will be matching and thus correct. Takeaway: It is interesting to note that there is not a tremendous amount of shift here - notice how the right shoe only has one segment that is absorbing more pressure than the left foot. Top Position: While the right foot is clearly under more pressure than the left this is due to the coiling and wind up of the body vs. a huge weight shift or slide. Remember there should be no (or very little) lateral motion as you pivot to the top of the backswing. In fact, if you looked at Ben Hogan's feet when his club reached the 'top' he would clearly have more pressure on the left foot due to his very dynamic swing. Impact: What I love about this illustration is how impact only has two more pressure points than the follow through! The weight is clearly on the front foot - just as it should be. Follow Through: The weight is all the way up on the front foot, but not significantly more than where it was at address.

Tom Watson at Turnberry Sam Snead at WentworthThe moral of the story is that in order to shift the weight correctly, the lower body and particularly the feet, need to work. Just like Watson and Snead - the lower body must make its contribution to the motion and energy generated in the golf swing.

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It's All About Impact - The Book

This book has been written to show all golfers' what style elements they can do without and what functional elements are integral to soundly struck golf shots. What is pretty and what works? Forget about form and focus all your attention on two simple keys that make all the difference in the world.

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