Rabu, 31 Oktober 2012

Pettersson's "Sway"

After going to see the final round at the CIMB Classic, Ramzi had asked about Dufner's waggle -- which I wrote about yesterday -- and also about Carl Pettersson's apparent sway. Ramzi commented:
Also saw Carl Petterson teeing off, he was confidently hitting/tapping on top of the ball to get the right tee height. He also has this quasi-sway to the right when he starts his backswing. Why does he do that?
Here's what I wrote back in the comments:
As for Carl, that isn't a sway. He's moving behind the ball -- a move that Carl Rabito, the PGA teaching pro who taught me, also teaches. I generally don't teach it because I think you either do it naturally when you try to stay steady over the ball or you end up with a full-blown sway. I found a YouTube video by PGA teaching pro Brian Manzella that demonstrates it. It's in the first couple of minutes.
And here's that video I mentioned:

Just to make things clear, here are a couple of videos of Carl swinging an iron from slightly different angles. The reason for the second one will become clear shortly:

The easiest way I could think of to show Carl's move is with a "time-lapse" photo. First I took stills of his address, top of backswing position, and just after impact. Then I layered them, made sure his feet were in the same place in all three, and faded them together. Here's the result:

If you look closely, you can see that most of the side-to-side movement is with his hips. His head is tallest at address, then moves slightly downward as his hips swing backward, then turns toward the target as he makes his downswing. His head really doesn't move much, and that's why I included the second video -- from the angle it was shot, you can see just how much his head turns during his swing. It's that head turn that makes it look like he moves so much.

In Carl's case, this hip movement also contributes to that little out-to-in move in his downswing. (No, it's not really an over-the-top move because his hands don't move outward toward the ball until AFTER he starts down. In an over-the-top swing, the hands move outward while the hands are still going up.)

I think Carl makes this move because he isn't as flexible as some other players. If you watch the videos, you can see his left heel come off the ground before he ever reaches the top of his backswing. (You Stack'n'Tilters out there can leave a comment if I'm wrong, but his move actually reminds me a little of the S'n'T hip move. His head stays fairly centered -- in his case, just behind the ball -- while his lower body moves quite a bit back and through.)

The key to his success here is that his head stays in pretty much the same vertical position throughout his swing, despite the way it looks. It's a slightly unorthodox move but it's repeatable for Carl. I think it's his adaptation to his inflexibility... and it works very well indeed.

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