Well, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that so many in Wax Nation watch televised golf – but thanks to Frank Nobilo for pointing out something I see all the time, and for his shout-out on The Golf Channel last night during the 3rd Round coverage of the Sony Open in Honolulu.
Thanks as well to Peter A. with the heads-up, and to those of you who emailed me – I was watching the telecast but I had stepped away from the TV near the end of the broadcast, and I missed it!
I’ll have to see it on the rerun later today – but this post is to answer the questions I’m getting on the Justin Thomas/Jamie Sadlowski reference.
I actually discussed Sadlowski’s move last year, and you’ll see something similar in Charlie Beljan’s swing, but here’s what I’m talking about:
First, let’s see how “Mr. 59” Justin Thomas swings his driver, and if you’re wondering how a guy can shoot 59 on one day and then hit a drive like he did on 18 yesterday (where the Sadlowski reference came in), then just watch that left leg and foot through impact:
Now, let’s see what Jamie Sadlowski does with his left foot and leg during the impact phase:
So, all you’re seeing here is the result of a failure to shift to the left foot on the down swing and into the impact phase – both the impact phase and follow-through, look at that right toe anchored firmly to the ground.
But then you have a problem – if both feet don’t move and you have that kind of hip speed and rotation through impact, something is going to give – in this case, the left foot completely releases and leaves the ground so that the hips can continue to rotate (see how the left foot in both cases rotates nearly 90 degrees from the address position).
**Update: Thanks to Wax Member DKondo for sending that super HD close-up of Justin’s swing, which I’ve added to not-so-great video taken with a phone, for those of you who missed it. Note the left foot release, which is what FN was referencing below:
Frank Nobilo’s Shout Out To Wax Golf (via DJ Watts)
So, it’s not so much a power move as it’s a body-saving move. Without it, there would be some really bad things happening in the hip and groin area – imagining you’re running full stride and suddenly your right foot becomes stuck to the ground.
So, with swings this fast, something’s gotta give if you don’t shift to the left foot – the legendary Greg Norman is considered by many to be the best driver ever of the persimmon era, when it comes to accuracy, distance and consistency, and you’ll see his foot moves as well – but it’s the right foot, with the short-stop slide!
Below, see the gif. of Norman (studio swing) and Jerry “BT” Crowell with the releasing right foot to allow both a weight shift to the left foot and allow the full hip rotation to the finish:
And of course, the awesome swing of Mike Dunaway (you can never get enough of this action) with the “step around” action at the finish that serves the same purpose:
I did notice something earlier in the broadcast as well from my friend Mr. Nobilo – when he was looking at Gary Woodland’s driver swing, he pointed out how Woodland has a little “spin” on the left heel, and Frank correctly pointed it out and highlighted the hip area, saying that it was to facilitate the hip rotation in the finish – correct, because there is a ton of rotational force on the leading knee if those feet stay planted on a wide-stanced swing.
Above, you’ll see an older swing of Woodland’s, and you can see both the left heel spin to reduce the rotational force on the knee joint, as well as a little slide and step with the right foot at the end!
You’ll see a lot of both Thomas and Woodland later tonight in the final round, so you can keep an eye on this for yourselves.
To conclude, this is how Justin Thomas gets the ball out there, but that’s also how he hit that drive on 18 – it has nothing to do with “classic” or “modern,” it’s a body-saving move and lets you really get after the ball (no one is going to say Sadlowski, the best long driver of all time, doesn’t get the ball out there), but it will also cost you in consistency if you’re a little off, which JT was yesterday.
I’ll be watching tonight to see if JT can join the “shot 59 and won the tournament” club, but with a 7 stroke lead, I imagine it will be a formality of sorts.
And thanks again to FN for calling attention to the foot action of some of these players – isn’t it fun to hear an analyst actually explain something for the benefit of the viewers?