Rory McIlroy Is Floating His Heel (Updated)

rory-mcilroy-bridgestone(Updated at Bottom – I was mistaken about Rory’s swing changes being brand new, it seems he changed his swing earlier than I thought…)

I had to go back and watch a few of Rory McIlroy’s swings again from yesterday’s final round at the Bridgestone Invitational.

I was seeing some stuff that I really liked, and it it seems that Rory has made some swing changes for the better.

And I mean, if this is not just an anomaly, that this would be great for Rory and for professional golf – the youngsters today are more likely to want to emulate Rory than Tiger Woods, and if Rory is going back to more mechanically-sound swinging, I would be personally delighted for 1. His back and future and 2. The generations that will follow him.

The first thing I noticed was his address stance.  He is standing more vertically over the ball and with less knee flex.  Less “bending over the ball,” which goes back to the UGS principles established by the classic era swingers.


With the Driver, most of his shots were down the line on camera, and I noticed he had more arm extension, which is exactly what you want with the Driver especially.

Second thing I noticed was a looser and freer-looking back swing, with less jumping through impact (though he still does have a little jump on the down swing, but no one’s perfect), and so I decided to take a look at his foot action.

On the 17th tee, I found it – a camera angle behind Rory and to his left.  And on 17 tee, when he pelted another 300+ yard drive into the fairway, I saw it.  It was subtle, but enough for me to see it.

Rory floated his leading (left) heel on the back swing.  It wasn’t a big heel float along the lines of a Bubba Watson or Phil Mickelson, but his heel did come up at the top.  More of a Sean “The Beast” Fister (of long-drive fame), where the heel comes up just before the down swing starts.

But if it moves at all, it frees up the lower back and leading leg that much more on the back swing and reduces the torquing force and rubber-band twisting of the upper body against the lower.

Still would like to see a straighter stance, but it’s a definite change and improvement over recent years.  That jumping action is now more like a jacked-up “leading foot stomp” action.  Still has a hyper-extended knee on the finish, but improvements are improvements.

This could be is very, very bad news for Rory’s competitors.  If he’s moving moved to a more mechanically-correct swing, he’ll take the pressure and strain off of his lower back, which has already caused him issues when he was barely 20 years old.

That means more years of a healthy Rory McIlroy, and perhaps a nice, long run as World Number One, if his desire so dictates, with a swing action that kids will emulate and move away from the planted-heel and restricted hip action that has plagued golf since the ’90’s.

If Rory figured it out himself, kudos to him!  But Rory, if your swing coach has introduced these changes, give him a big fat bonus, it can’t be enough, for what it will do for your swing, your game, and your longevity on the pro circuit.

The World Number One player, for the first time since Vijay Singh, has a more classic swing action than the last one.

Update: I’ve gone back and looked at other Rory swings (I haven’t looked closely in some time, as when I look at a player’s swing, I’m likely to see the same thing the next time until changes are made), and it seems that Rory made the changes as early as last year.

Rory’s Newer Stance and Swing Action


Here is a sequence of Rory at the ’13 Masters in a practice round.  There is an obvious heel float at the top of Rory’s swing, and I’ll admit I haven’t looked at Rory’s swing since perhaps ’11 or ’12, when he was still swinging flat-footed and making that big rubber band twist.

Look at that posture and arm extension!  Awesome.


The mystery of how Rory has been driving it miles and keeping his back healthy, or healthier than in the past – solved.  More upright stance, and the floating heel.

Well done, Rory!


3 thoughts on “Rory McIlroy Is Floating His Heel (Updated)

  1. Brandon

    nice to see that. I did see something in his transition that is causing him to lose some more distance i believe. I know he doesn’t need anymore but if he made a small change in how he works his lower body through impact, I can see 20-30 more yards. But its just a theory.

    1. D Watts Post author

      Rory grew up watching TW swing with that snapping left leg move, and he’s in love with it himself.

      Now the slight floating heel and erect stance will go some way in alleviating the back issues, but I’m still not in love with the torso twist going back, that snap nor the hyper-extension into the finish. Throw in the twisting pose for that matter.

      If he’d get a little more “swing” in that gate, he’d be able to “step into it” rather than jump after it, if you get my meaning 😉

  2. buddhabob

    wait a damn minute! What is the SOMAX guy going to say now and how much business has he lost over the last 2 weeks since the wee Irishman bagged two big birds? I laughed hysterically watching his vid where he puts Rory on the heaving deck of an oil liner somewhere in the North Sea and calls it the most unstable swing he has ever recorded.

    I am fond of calling out his peek-a-boo head dip where he looks like a delinquent Belfast schoolboy sneaking a look up some school girl’s uniform at a bus stop on a blustery day. Maybe it works for him, certainly it adds rear weight to his trebuchet on the downswing, its just not so good when he starts peeking when he putts or with his short game but what do I know, I haven’t looked up any skirts in years, know what I mean?

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