Mike Dunaway’s “Stickman” Swing Slowed Down…

dunaway-impactI have figured out a way to slow down the Mike Dunaway “stickman” swing gif. that I created years ago, and I found his positions to be illuminating.

There was a lot of discussion back in the Mike Austin days of the then-named DJ Watts Golf blog (later changed to Wax Golf when my swing theory diverged from the Mike Austin model in 2013), about their impact positions.

So, here is the slowed-down gif. of Dunaway’s swing for targettom and others who might want to see it:


There were some assertions that the impact was a fully-extended right arm at impact, and I asserted in turn that there had to be some post-impact extension, even a tiny bit, for what I’ll now call the proper “hammering” action through the ball, and it seems now I can provide proof that I was correct.

First, I don’t know what club Dunaway is swinging in this gif. – I would have assumed Driver, but now I’m thinking it was a 3-wood – and if it wasn’t, then it was a persimmon driver or one of the early small stainless steel headed drivers.

That’s because I found this taking a screen shot at the exact moment of impact:


You can see two things in the impact shot above – one, that the hands are slightly leading the ball at impact, which would make it very difficult to hit the ball in this manner with the modern drivers – we all know that they are designed to be swung in a manner to produce a positive angle of attack, and Dunaway’s above is clearly negative.

Compare that to what you would want with a modern driver:


I’m swinging a long-drive club here, but even with a standard length modern driver, you want the hands behind the ball at impact, for that positive AoA into the ball…


If this were a persimmon driver or one of the early stainless steel headed driver, you may have had them built to be swung in the same manner as the persimmon wood drivers, which would be more like today’s 3 woods – even with the drivers in the classic era, you had a negative AoA to create the spin on the ball to keep it airborne.

So, I can only go by what I’m observing.


But again, you’ll clearly see if you look, at the second point, that Dunaway’s right arm isn’t quite fully extended at impact, but nearly so, which is as perfect a position you can have as a flesh-and-blood human being – we want to be machine-like in our ball-striking, but we are not machines, and we will never achieve the same motions exactly.

Here’s something interesting as well:


See how nearly identical Dunaway’s top position is to the one of Hogan and myself using his “perfect pivot” with the “Swinging Gate” that I am always referencing in my videos?

So, Dunaway gets to nearly the same top position, but he had to shift his head to the right to get there (consistency and accuracy issues) and his left thigh isn’t even at vertical, let alone past vertical, and that would be due to the fact that Dunaway never had a high-floating heel on the back swing.


Now, that could have been a mobility issue from his football injury, but the fact remains, with a right-biased address position and a higher floating heel, he would have been even more consistent than he was (and he was a pretty accurate long driver, but his irons and wedges would certainly have been more on-point), and a greater “Swinging Gate” would have given him even more leverage, hence power, than he had with that near-perfect down swing.


15 thoughts on “Mike Dunaway’s “Stickman” Swing Slowed Down…

  1. D Watts Post author

    So this is where I see it, if you’re going to build the “perfect” golf swing, mechanically and theoretically:

    1. The MCS Address Stance and bias,
    2. Ben Hogan’s “perfect floating pivot” back swing,
    3. Mike Dunaway’s “perfect” down swing.

    You get that trifecta down, and you won’t be able to build a better golf swing model – it simply won’t be possible, mechanically-speaking

    Keeping in mind that you don’t have to have all three of the above components to build and have an excellent golf swing – I’m speaking with regards to mechanical performance and theory.

  2. john1brady

    Dunaway and Austin both moved their head back on the backswing… Austin even advised against swinging as agressive as he was in his 1960 TV film. That said they seemed to rotate around the C7 really close. In the following slow mo Austin appears to get the back arm fairly straight although it is hard to be certain as is the Dunaway stick man being that distortions are created in these relatively low fps films. Food for thought.

    1. D Watts Post author

      Down the line is better for gauging, JB – I don’t see full extension even with driver, for either MA or MD:

      If MA ever did hit the ball with a fully extended right arm at impact, I would bet that those balls ended up where many of his playing partners over the years used to see him after some drives – in the trees! 😉

      Not to mention, you don’t ever want a fully extended joint in any part of your body when making contact with anything – from a punch to a running stride, to a golf swing. That’s from my personal experience in multiple sports.

      There is always that less-than-full extension as the extending action does not terminate at impact, but rather terminates through impact…

      My goal has always been to find the intersecting points of the lines leading to maximum power and absolute accuracy – there is a loss of one with the max or absolute of the other, so for optimal and sensible performance, you want the intersecting point, not the extreme of one or the other.

      I don’t have a bias in either direction, I just go where the evidence takes me.

      Update: Here is MA through the ball DTL, where you can clearly see no full extension until post-impact.

      1. john1brady

        Makes good sense DJ. Looking at the following fast pitch softball slow mo Amanda starts with an extended pitching arm going to the slight bend through the pitch. This seems to be requisite for proper wrist and hand position as well as speed.

        1. D Watts Post author

          Just about the same arm and wrist positions at the bottom, correct!

          I remember you, Jaacob Bowden and I went over this a few years back.

          I didn’t have the benefit of better video image-grabbing and gif. making then, but again, full extension of any joint during forceful athletic motions (other than at the terminus of said motion) is something I would avoid, and it looks like MA and MD did as well, whatever their “feel” might have told them.

  3. targettom

    Thanks for slowing it down DJ, lots of info in that gif. Does it appear to you he is flattening the plane on the downswing a little, i.e. the so-called Sergio drop?

    1. D Watts Post author

      Very possible, Tom – here is the problem – Dunaway’s address stance and back swing were less than optimal, which is why I only look at his down swing.

      In the “Anatomy of the Golf Swing” video that he made with Austin, he is very centered in his stance and does a near-reverse pivot while showing his pivot action with a club behind his back and across his elbows. With a move like that, he had to transition with a “tilt and drop” move of the upper torso, to keep from coming OTT on the down swing.

      Good eye!

      He was a strong and gifted man, but his down swing is all I’m interested in. Just as, with Hogan, whose down swing was not something to try to emulate, but the back swing was sublime.

      If the perfect swing model didn’t exist, I had to find it by piecing together the best parts of various swingers – Jack Nicklaus was nearly perfect but for his swing angle coming down… and in isolation, Hogan’s back swing was superior to Nicklaus’ as Dunaway’s down swing was mechanically flawless.

      Put those two together with the proper address position that I have laid out in the MCS Golf Swing theory (which is Jack’s, virtually, from the 60’s, but with the angled stance), and you are A-OK!

    1. D Watts Post author

      It was the best concept I could come up with to stop people spinning like tops toward the target… but what I’ve got coming will eliminate even the need for a “swing angle” concept if you get it.

        1. D Watts Post author

          He certainly wasn’t… in fact, he has the same right arm action through the ball as Dunaway, which is why he was so straight. I still prefer his floating heel swing from when he established his name as 2x Canadian Am Champ, but even his funky swing from later years shows him dropping the hammer from the top down through impact.

          One man was the smoothest long driver, the other could knock birds off a wire – I’ve always said that the action that produced efficient power is also the same action to produce accuracy, and these two swingers showed the extreme of either end…

          Watch Norman through the ball…no turn until the follow-through and finish, he’s swinging out in front of himself and not “down the line”

  4. Brady

    Unbelievable!! Love this slowed down version! Notice how when Dunaways hands get to shoulder level on the DS the majority of his weight appears to stabilize on his left
    foot and his head doesn’t move an inch until the ball is gone! This is pure gold

  5. major tom

    nice work and great analysis. not fully extending the right arm until post impact is key to delivering maximum leverage to club head at the right point in the sequence. and of course, like most things in the downswing, can’t consciously be controlled during the swing itself but is a result of mechanics.

    this motion is analogous to throwing a baseball overhand where the ball is released shortly before full extension.

    1. D Watts Post author

      …like most things in the downswing, can’t consciously be controlled during the swing itself but is a result of mechanics… this motion is analogous to throwing a baseball overhand where the ball is released shortly before full extension….

      I would say, “Bang on, Major” – if I could provide a tiny addendum to the first part of that quote:

      “Like most things in the downswing, can’t consciously be controlled during the swing itself but is a result of position and mechanics…”

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