What Frank Nobilo Meant Re: Justin Thomas & Jamie Sadlowski (Updated W/Video)

justin-thomas-post-impact**UpdateVideo has been added to the body of the posting below /update

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:

Greg Norman & Jerry Crowell

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:

dunaway ds

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?

Good stuff.

15 thoughts on “What Frank Nobilo Meant Re: Justin Thomas & Jamie Sadlowski (Updated W/Video)

  1. Jonas

    Looks like mine wasnt the only email then. How cool was that? I like Frank Nobilo so this is nice. Looks like Waxgolf is hitting the scene. Kudos DJ!

    1. D Watts Post author

      Thanks Jonas! I’ve been getting the same comments from everyone – I don’t think Frank knows how many people enjoy him, I’ll be sure to let him know that Wax Nation does 😉

  2. targettom

    I see Woodland has an exaggerated right elbow drop which seems to be why he gets such incredible lag; what are your thoughts about that move?

    1. D Watts Post author

      Hey Tom. I don’t really have any thoughts on that. Proper mechanics are what I focus on. And looking at that swing, there is only the appearance of incredible lag because Woodland is so upright at the top of that stack & tilt back swing.

      Any one part of another swinger’s swing is exactly that – part of their swing, and likely not to be emulated. The only reason you’d have to “create” extra lag in your swing would be that your mechanics are robbing you of natural leverage, which in Woodland’s case include that left bias and subsequently short back swing.

      I’d rather just do it properly from stance to finish.

    1. D Watts Post author

      Yes I did. In fact, it’s the most important move, but you can drop the elbow hard and still come across the line. I don’t see anything extraordinary in Woodland’s elbow drop – he was 10th in driving distance last season, which is long, but Rory McIlroy hits it past him, and Rory is nowhere near his size.

      Like I said, his top position gives the appearance of huge lag, you’d have to stand and swing like him to recreate it – that model is stacked and tilted, it’s not to be copied.

  3. Laser

    How can Sadlowski do what he does? Maybe because Long-Drive and Golf are different sports. In long-drive, the “fairways” are much wider. Was it last year when Sadlowski went very far in the competition…and then didn’t get a single ball in the grid?

    And, how can DJ do what he does? I’d say that it’s because of that full-body swing. The left side doesn’t just “clear,” it helps the right side. And, left & right work also together on the backswing, and front is always working with back.

    With a full-body swing, there’s no over-push (Sadlowski?) or over-pull (Stack & Tilt?).

    1. D Watts Post author

      The left side doesn’t just “clear,” it helps the right side. And, left & right work also together on the backswing, and front is always working with back.

      I can’t really add anything to that, Laser!

  4. peterallenby2013

    One of golf’s great teachers John Jacobs has died. Attached below is a link to a Global Golf Postarticle about Mr. Jacobs and his career. – I love Jacobs observation (page 2) about teaching truisms, i.e., cock the wrists, keep your head down, etc…”

    He said, “Keep the head down has kept me in business for 70 years”….I mention this because like Mr. Jacobs, DJ Watts has had the conviction of his ideas backed by RESULTS. Kudos to Frank Nobilo are due largely because he SEES and UNDERSTANDS that DJ’s swing methodology works and works well without ruining your body.

    And give Frank credit for having enough open-mindedness and conviction in his analysis to counter more conventional modern swing theorists who operate a machine (teaching, videos, books) that makes a ton of money. The real obstacle to greater acceptance of WAX swing philosophy is that is will NOT make money for incumbent money making teaching regimes! Nothing new here, but triggered by Jacobs observation abut the incorrect truisms of teaching the golf swing…


    PS – Same daily edition of Global Golf Post also has an article about Rory McIlroy and….a balky back!

    DJ – Understanding that Rory has won a ton and is a professional pressure player, what would you suggest Rory modify in his swing motion to keep his back alive? Or, does his need to re-construct his swing from top to bottom, like Henrik Stenson did with teacher Pete Cowen, the only instance I know in the modern era where a pro golfer went back to the drawing board because he couldn’t play tournament golf with his then current swing??

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