It’s Not Where Rory Ends Up (It’s Whence He Came)

I’ve been getting questions about the posting regarding Rory McIlroy and my problem with his swing, and perhaps I wasn’t clear, so I’ll clarify.

I have pointed out his post-impact position and the problem is that it’s not anything near to his stance set-up.

I would propose an experiment to explain it, but I’m afraid of people hurting themselves, so let’s make it like an Albert Einstein thought experiment – if you choose to actually do it physically, I don’t recommend it, and do so at your own risk.

Say I propose that you stand in the right-biased position similar to the “Leaning A” stance and then, keeping the head stable, drive your hips hard to the left.

You’ll likely find that not much happens, as the body is designed to move like this, provided you release the right foot if you’re driving the hips very hard.

Now, imagine standing with the head center of the stance (as Rory is below), and then you do the same – drive your hips hard to the left and throw your head back and down so that you end up in the same position as Rory below:

Now, for good measure, do that and keep your right foot anchored to the ground as Rory does.

Now, do that a few hundred times per day and see where you end up.

It’s not that his head is to the right, nor is the problem that he’s driving his hips.

The problem is that he’s doing it from a center-biased position and this move, if you’ve been brave enough to try the experiment (and which I hope you’ll take my word for it), is bad mojo.

It’s why the Stack & Tilt doesn’t work for any club longer than an 8 or 7 iron.  Any club longer than that, and you’ll find yourself doing what Rory is doing above to get a proper impact position.

Funny enough, Sean Foley came from the S&T school of swing and he had Tiger Woods setting up like Rory or even more left-biased, and I was rather…concerned about it, if you’ll all recall, going so far as to call this type of move the “back-breaker,” so it’s nothing new that I’m saying.

And then, to make it even better, stand very stiffly with a ramrod-straight back like Rory in the below picture and, doing what you did above, swing a club at 120+ mph:

The above picture, incidentally, was taken during the tournament where Rory said he hurt himself swinging and it turned out to be a rib stress fracture.

Remember what a noted sports doctor said about suffering stress fractures to the rib while swinging a golf club:

… stress fractures of this nature are “extremely rare” in golfers, even those of McIlroy’s caliber.

“They are typical in rowing or upper body weight bearing athletes,” Kunkel said. “Stress fractures are caused by an accumulation of micro-trauma. They are tiny fractures or cracks in the bone. Usually the body just heals them. If you do not give it time to heal, it can result in a full fracture. Typically, an injury of this sort will take a minimum of six weeks to heal.”

So, Rory has already had back issues and now he’s having issues again in the upper back-ribcage area, due to have an MRI when he finishes playing this weekend at the Players Championship.

Let me be frank – I have no idea exactly what Rory’s injury is, nor exactly what it is that caused it.

All I know is that he’s doing certain things in his swing, both with his posture and stiff back position at address, and with the center-biased stance with the driving hips/head drop down swing, that are going to put extreme stress on the spine and torso, so it’s really a toss-up as to exactly which body part is going to go at any time.

I’m not a psychic.  All I do is look at swings and when I see something I don’t like, I say so, because if I don’t like it, then it’s because it’s dangerous and increases the risk of injury.

There are certain things Rory has done that I like, such as the leading heel separation with his longer clubs on the back swing.

But standing the way he does and swinging as hard and fast as he does, is asking for trouble.

Throw into the equation Rory’s obsession with the gym and the long ball, and I’ll repeat what I’ve said about strength training.

Strength training can make a good swing better, a great swing greater, but it will also make an unsound swing more dangerous.

That’s because you’re not only doing something unsound in your swing, you’ve increased your muscle power and now you’re performing that unsound move with more violence and speed.

It’s asking for trouble.

So, am I omniscient?  Certainly not.  But I can see when someone is asking for trouble.

And when someone keeps asking for trouble… it’s likely that he’s going to keep finding it.

At the end, I can only look at a swing and say “Yes,” or “Hmm… not liking that…” and why.

And Rory’s swing for me is “Hmm, not liking that…” and I’ve just said why.

Carry on!


10 thoughts on “It’s Not Where Rory Ends Up (It’s Whence He Came)

  1. doubou2014

    Rory has had back problems for several years now. A look at his lead foot at the end of his swing indicates serious knee and back problems coming up, especially since as a pro he has to hit a tremendous number of balls in practice and, as DJ says, his high swing speed compounds the problem.

    1. D Watts Post author

      I like to say doubou that there is no perfect swing. There is an optimal model however, and the closer to you get to that model, the better your odds are of being a great ball-striker and the lower your chances of injury.

      Conversely, the further you get from that model, the higher your chances of streaky or just bad ball-striking, and of injury.

  2. targettom

    thanks for the clarification. Does the MCS model say that on the downswing we should drive the hips laterally (towards the target)? or should we avoid the lateral move and drive the left hip back and around, e.g. lead hip pocket back and away from the target?

    1. D Watts Post author

      None of the above, Tom – if you’re set up properly and perform a proper floating pivot, the hips will turn in place on the back swing pivot, and then they will move left as you transition and transfer your weight to the leading foot. I don’t drive anything except the ball 😉

  3. targettom

    in going back to the Blake Elliott pages it seems to me it is MCS to drive the hips towards the target while keeping the head back….I have been able to get the SwingRite down to just above 2 by doing that just now.

    1. D Watts Post author

      Well now we’re just talking about semantics. I said the hips will move left, if you want to say “drive,” then we’re just talking about phrasing and imagery.

      I will be posting some swings of a 4 hdcp with whom I worked today and he said when he tries to “drive” his hips he spins out. He accepted what I said about a transfer of weight and the hips moving left without trying to “drive” them.

      I don’t think of the hips at all on the downswing but they will move left with the transition. Exactly which words are used don’t really matter to me.

      1. Laser

        “Exactly which words are used don’t really matter to me.”

        –Perhaps the biggest challenge of golf instruction is that words mean different things to different people.

        As Moe Norman said about what he felt: “I don’t play OVER my leg, I play INTO my leg.”

        Which seems to be the same as this: “Transferring the weight fully to the leading leg and foot.” ~ DJW

        Or Nicklaus: “I play into a firm left leg.” That one is tricky because he didn’t mean a “stiff” left leg, and it doesn’t tell at what point it felt “firm”

        Rory’s technique doesn’t look like it would produce a “feel” like that.

        1. D Watts Post author

          All three of those statements differ in words but describe the exact same thing. And correct, Rory is not doing that.

  4. Chief Cowpie

    He seems to get lots of MRI’s. Why don’t they name the procedure after him; McIlroy, Rory Imaging

    Actually sad and painful to watch. Rory has invested his genius in manufacturing swing speed without considering the results. While as DJ pointed out no one should be doing this, perhaps even Iron Byron as even metal parts may experience metal fatigue and damage, most so for Rory who grew up a pudgy kid with not the strongest frame and so perhaps bone structure.


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