Golf Digest Expert Says “Copy Justin Thomas – But DON’T Copy Him!”

justin-thomas-post-impactOriginally posted January 18, 2017 – still relevant, especially as JT just won the FedEx Cup & will be gathering young imitators

I just read a posting by Golf Digest’s Matthew Rudy on how to “Hit Justin Thomas’ Jump Drive For More Power,” and I’m still trying to figure out how he can tell people to do that, but then say not to try to do what Justin Thomas is actually doing… or you’ll hurt yourself.

Kudos to Mr. Rudy as well for using that tried-and-true non sequitur that for power, he tells us, “Thomas uses the ground to produce maximum clubhead speed…”

Oh boy… I will repeat, please show me a golfer who isn’t using the ground when he swings a golf club.

Please, I want to see this “not using the ground” action that is apparently what the rest of us do when we’re not pirouetting like ballerinas on the tee box.


So, just to be clear, Rudy’s title to the article is nonsensical, as it tells you to copy Justin’s JUMP drive technique, but then he says, near the end of the same article:

To get some of Thomas’ speed, copy what he’s doing with his hips, not what he’s doing with his feet. But be careful, because it’s a good way to get injured if you aren’t strong and flexible.

If there’s one thing I love, it’s someone telling people to do what someone else is doing, and then telling them in the next breath not to, because it’s a good way to get injured.

This guy actually gets paid for this, and Golf Digest actually publishes this stuff, people.

And this has got to be the best non-explanation of what Thomas is doing, that I’ve ever read as Rudy tags Michael Jacobs, who jumps in the ring with the following:

But that move doesn’t come about in the way you might think, says Golf Digest Best Young Teacher Michael Jacobs.

“The jump doesn’t happen because he’s literally trying to jump up in the air from the top of his backswing,” says Jacobs, who is based at the X Golf School at Rock Hill Country Club in Manorville, NY. “It happens because he turns really hard into the inside of his right hip early in the downswing. That internal rotation is what makes his body want to rise and go up on his toes.”

So, the title tells people to jump like Justin, then Jacobs says that Thomas isn’t actually jumping (That part is actually true, wow!), so I guess despite the article, you don’t want to “jump,” and you’re supposed to emulate JT by turning “really hard into the inside of his right hip early in the downswing…”

Sounds good to me, but before anyone tries this, be sure to call around for a good hip replacement specialist.

Because, if you don’t do the same thing with your feet,  you’re going to hurt yourself, but good…

Not to mention, if what he’s doing with his swing has to do with the hips, what does that have to do with jumping, or “using the ground?”

For those who missed the shout-out and explanation on a Justin Thomas swing from the weekend:

I’ve already pointed out, as did Golf Channel’s Frank Nobilo on Saturday night, that this move is common in people (who are right-side dominant) who aren’t shifting their weight fully to the left foot on the downswing:


And of course, if the hips are turning quickly and you aren’t getting off that right side and foot (watch Thomas’ right toes just dig into the turf on the impact and follow-through), then you have to pull the left hip back and behind you to complete the turn, hence the jumping and twisting left leg.

This, as I’ve said is not a power move, but a body-saving move, because like long driver Jamie Sadlowski at bottom, you’d blow your hips, legs and lower back to smithereens if you didn’t do so:


But of course, the experts at Golf Digest are just looking at the jumping foot and saying,Of course! He’s using the ground and that’s the secret!”

Of course, this is just another “Let’s all jump on the latest hot player’s bandwagon and tell everyone that the secret this time is what the latest hot player is doing, especially if it’s a swing flaw or compensation…”

And that move is a compensation, to save the swinger from the fact that he’s not releasing his right foot or shifting the weight to the left foot to facilitate and allow the hip turn to the finish.

In fact, the flying left foot violates one of what I called the “3 Stability Factors” back when I was working on the “Kinesiology of the MCS Golf Swing” going on two years back:


This below, my friends, is what a power swing looks like when you transfer the weight to the leading foot the way you’re supposed to, and notice what Greg Norman himself, considered by many to be the greatest ever driver of the ball with a persimmon on the PGA Tour, has to say about this swinger:

dunaway ds

I would to chat with Mr. Rudy on how Mike Dunaway could have gotten more power out of his swing by “using the ground…”

FYI to Golf Digest – Thomas isn’t the first person on the PGA Tour to do this, as Charlie Beljan shows us:

Two years ago, you’ll remember, they were telling everyone that Jordan Spieth’s “chicken wing” through impact was something good, and was the reason for his success, and you should try that too, boys and girls…

And don’t look now, but there’s that same dug-in right toe and foot through impact and the subsequent ballet-dance with the left foot, from a swinger you’d never call a long hitter:

speith swing

It would be nice if these “experts” could concentrate on and teach proper swing mechanics rather than point out the latest hot players’ funky moves, and offer something a little more concrete than “do that – but don’t do that,” as instruction.

These guys have no idea what they’re looking at, and why the swingers are doing what they’re doing, but let’s be honest – there are magazine ads and expensive golf lessons to sell, and those ads don’t come cheap.

The end.

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10 thoughts on “Golf Digest Expert Says “Copy Justin Thomas – But DON’T Copy Him!”

  1. Laser

    The lead still photo looks quite a bit like Joe Miller. Now, there’s some jumping. I didn’t watch much long-drive this past year, so maybe Miller has toned it down a bit.

    1. D Watts Post author

      Hi aldi,

      Basically the same thing – if you watch Bubba’s body on the down swing, you can see he’s hanging back on that right side (not the left, as he’s a lefty), and see what happens to the left or trailing leg at impact.

      You see that left toe dug in, basically “throwing out the anchor” and at impact, the right foot has to detach and turn to allow completion of that hip rotation.

      It’s not a power move, rather it’s a compensation you see in a lot of power swingers who don’t get off that rear side through impact, and something has to give.

      Good catch! 🙂

  2. Mike Divot

    “Hit Justin Thomas’ jump drive for more power”

    That’s exactly what you’d write if you were doing a parody of Golf Digest.

    “Chicken Wing your swing like Jordan to laser in those long irons”

    “Putt with your hands behind your back and never miss a short putt again”

  3. major tom

    if you look at dunaway, jimmy Thomson, and your position at the top – nice and compact. bubba and sadlowski, a ton of wrist lag on downswing. you and dunaway, efficient release. looking at Thomas’ swing I honestly can’t see how he hits it so far and his head snaps around like he’s going to give himself whiplash.

    1. D Watts Post author

      Thanks, Major – and I was incurably a “down” hitter on the driver because I pulled hard with the left side and came down steep – when I began to adjust my stance for my physical limitation, I had no problem getting “up” into the ball.

      And I have news… my best swing from last season won’t even be close to what I have in store for Wax Nation… just gotta wait ’til spring! 😉

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