John Daly – Still An All-Time “3 To 9”

If you’re looking to see how much power and speed you can generate when you get a proper down swing release action from the “3 To 9” phase, John Daly is still an all-time example.

The funny thing about watching and trying to figure out swingers’ mechanical actions is that you can go years before you really get it, and then there is the illuminating moment when you capture something that triggers a memory.

This past week, as I was working out on my swing, my right arm action began to feel like something I’ve watched in Daly’s swing, where it always seemed to me that Daly was “pushing” the club grip down with his right hand and arm action.

The swings where I had that feeling, by the way, had the most snap through the “3 To 9” phase.

In fact there are times where I hear the SwingRite tip whizzing past me behind my right ear and shoulder when I get it right, and so… since it was constantly reminding me of Long John’s action on the down swing, I went and took a look at him in slo-mo for the first time in a while.


And there it was again, the “push-down” look of his move from the top to the “3 O’Clock” position:

Daly’s “Push-Down” Move


You’ll notice that the initial impression could be made that JD is turning early and it’s confirmed by the early heel lift in an otherwise perfect down swing, but that JD doesn’t turn to the target early, rather to the ball.

But that “push-down” move is awesome, now that I’m feeling it.

That move above cannot be performed with a planted-heel and restricted hip turn back swing. It requires a full-body pivot, and I have to say that you cannot find anything to fault on his back swing pivot:

John Daly’s “Floating Pivot” Back Swing


And then you get from that great back swing to set up Jd’s “push-down” action, an amazing “3 To 9” phase through the ball:


That, my friends, is a free and full release that, combined with JD’s free and full hip turn, made him one of the longest drivers you’ll ever see – give a 24 year old John Daly the same equipment as today, and I don’t think anyone would be close to him.

As you can see above, the proper “3 To 9” action really stretches out the right side from hand to shoulder, and that is putting more strain on my right shoulder rotator-cuff right at the “9 O’Clock” position.

It’s a matter of easing off when I wake up with a little soreness in the right shoulder, until my body catches up to the increased pop through the “3 To 9,” but that’s a problem I don’t mind having.

John Daly and the optimal MCS swing model have many more similarities than differences between them, the main ones being the stronger grip, extreme shaft angle at the top and the slightly early turn starting down, but ironically these are all things I used to have in my own swing even as I developed the MCS standard model.

Beyond that,

So, as I’ve just illustrated, you can’t have a proper “3 To 9” without the proper down swing action.

And you can’t have a proper down swing action without starting from the proper top position…

And you can’t start from a proper top position without the proper “floating pivot” back swing…

And, finally – you can’t do any of the above or even get close, without starting all of this motion from a proper Address Position!


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5 thoughts on “John Daly – Still An All-Time “3 To 9”

  1. Goose

    From Mike Dunaway –

    I’ll start with a detailed description of my ideal downswing:

    1. My right hip pushes downward between the left leg and the ball, causing the left hip to move laterally, setting up the support of the torso. This enables the right hip and leg to rotate counterclockwise around toward the target.

    2. My left hip moves laterally toward the target.

    3. My hands direct the shaft and clubhead between the wrist and ball, maintaining the proper swing plane. (Here is when I first feel stored energy readying itself to be released into the clubhead, via my arms, hands, and then the clubshaft.)

    4. As my left hip starts the forward movement, my right hip and knee simultaneously move counterclockwise around the left leg.

    5. My right shoulder angle remains constant in relation to the right side of the rib cage. The right hip chases to the right elbow, not the reverse. In still photography, because the right side is rotating toward the ball, it looks as if the elbow is being tucked into the right hip. This is only an illusion.

    6. As weight shifts dramatically to my left foot, I feel the torso advancing my left arm on the correct plane to the golf ball. I DO NOT PULL DOWN WITH THE LEFT ARM.

    7. I feel my left shoulder returning from a low position at the top of the backswing to a higher position at impact.

    8. As my left shoulder moves up, my right shoulder moves down. Both shoulders rotate around the 30-degree angle created by the spine at address.

    9. My left thigh rotates counterclockwise around an extended left leg. My left hip closes into and toward the target. This creates tremendous forward rotation and power.

    10. My left elbow rotates underneath the left arm to allow the knuckles of the left hand to hit the back center of the golf ball at impact.

    11. It is very important that you do not lock the left wrist at impact; just the opposite occurs. Total relaxation of the inside muscles of the left forearms and wrist allows the shaft and clubhead to pick up additional acceleration through the hitting area. The left arm and shaft create one common line that is directly on the plane line of impact. This position maximizes the delivery of the centrifugal force built up by the swing.

    12. As the club swings from well inside the target line, back to the ball, my hands-arm unit makes a sidearm motion. (At this point, I feel as if I’m swinging outward and energy is traveling speedily through my arms.) I am also aiming my clubhead at the inside quadrant of the golf ball.

    13. While my left shoulder moves farther up and the rotation of the right hip around the left leg occurs, my head remains on the center-line between my two feet, allowing the clubhead to swing through the golf ball up the target line on the plane. The secret to balance is simply to keep your head between your feet.

    14. As my right arm and right wrist straighten out at impact, my right-hand speed increases and likewise the centrifugal force.

    15. BOOM! The sweet spot of the clubface smashes the ball, just as it’s starting to swing upward at the very bottom of its arc.

    Remember this: “The downswing is far too fast and complex an action to be consciously directed.” It’s a sheer waste of time for a golfer to segregate any of the complex body club positions involved during the downswing.

    What is very worthwhile is to work diligently at drumming my right-side trigger (pushing the right hip downward and the counterclockwise around the left leg) into your muscle memory. That one trigger will allow you to automatically wing into and through all the paramount positions of links of the downswing connected chain.

    Remember, the downswing should not be a consciously directed action. My subconscious allows me to make a smooth transition into the downswing and deliver the club securely into the ball.

    Dunaway and Jack Nicklaus both describe the downswing starting with the right leg/thigh, not pulling from the left side. This, I believe, was accomplished with their excellent foot work. They both rolled their ankles and kept their weight on the insides of their feet, always centered. Jack Grout had Nicklaus practice hitting balls for months as a kid, only rolling his ankles, not allowing him to lift his feet. Grout instructed Nicklaus to roll his left ankle on the backswing (left) and his right ankle on the through-swing, a key Jack used throughout his career. This will give you wonderful rhythm. Forward press first with the right ankle rolling in and the rest kinda takes care of itself.

    Watch Sam Snead:

    Just my thoughts…

    1. D Watts Post author

      Hey Goose!

      Reading Dunaway’s description, I’m wondering if Mike Austin helped him with that.

      Love Dunaway’s swing and some of what he says above I agree with 100% but much of what he has to say on it is contradictory to my opinion, but it’s not really more than a difference in “feel.” Some of it is also so specific that it may not apply to everyone, such as the exact angle of his shoulders, etc.

      I disagree with his and Nicklaus’ focus on the right side only playing into the down swing, as it is a full-body swing and the shoulders move together as a lever.

      I’ve actually found my best results are when I combine both sides instead of focusing on one or the other.

      Even with what I’ve posted above on the “push-down” move, I still get the best snap when I remember to focus on my leading leg action on both back and down swing.

      For me, it is always both sides and not one or the other, but I’ll talk about each side separately at times.

      That said, we all of course view and feel the swing on a very personal individual basis, so I’ll just disagree with much of what is written above without saying it’s wrong.

      I have different “feels” from what they describe, but a difference of feel does not automatically mean a difference of action.

    2. D Watts Post author

      For anyone who is interested, I will expand on the 100% agree with parts. The rest I would either disagree with or just find not necessary in the description.

      My Shorter Dunaway:

      My left hip moves laterally toward the target… As weight shifts dramatically to my left foot… I feel my left shoulder returning from a low position at the top of the back swing to a higher position at impact…

      As my left shoulder moves up, my right shoulder moves down. Both shoulders rotate around the … angle created by the spine at address…

      … My left hip closes into and toward the target. This creates tremendous forward rotation and power…

      It is very important that you do not lock the left wrist at impact; just the opposite occurs. Total relaxation of the inside muscles of the left forearms and wrist allows the shaft and clubhead to pick up additional acceleration through the hitting area…

      The left arm and shaft create one common line that is directly on the plane line of impact (DJ’s Note: With the driver, yes, but with irons and wedges, there won’t be, due to the difference in shaft angles at impact). This position maximizes the delivery of the centrifugal force built up by the swing…

      … I am also aiming my clubhead at the inside quadrant of the golf ball. (DJ’s Note: I don’t do this but it is kind of the same as the “Swing Angle” concept I’ve talked about)

      While my left shoulder moves farther up… As my right arm and right wrist straighten out at impact, my right-hand speed increases and likewise the centrifugal force.

      BOOM! The sweet spot of the club face smashes the ball, just as it’s starting to swing upward at the very bottom of its arc (DJ’s Note: With driver only, of course, but since MD was a long driver, I feel the need to point out that this is a driver swing description only).

      Remember this: “The downswing is far too fast and complex an action to be consciously directed.” It’s a sheer waste of time for a golfer to segregate any of the complex body club positions involved during the downswing. (DJ – Yup!)

      Remember, the downswing should not be a consciously directed action. My subconscious allows me to make a smooth transition into the downswing and deliver the club securely into the ball. (DJ – Yup Again!)

  2. Goose

    Thanks DJ! Agree 100% that it is a 2 sided body swing. I just wanted to point out the footwork and how the rolling of the ankles would give the feels he describes. And, yes if we watch Mike, Jack and especially Sam, the footwork really helps create an effortless looking rhythm, which you can only have with a 2 sided body swing. It would be pretty hard to do a waltz with just your right side! Thanks again Buddy, love what you are doing.

    1. D Watts Post author

      Gee, I completely forgot the thing about the foot roll, didn’t I?

      You have the EMCS videos and the eBook, Goose – you know that I talk about moving the pressure to the sides of the feet before the swing, and you could certainly practice a drill with “rolling” onto the sides during the pivots. No quarrel with that.

      I would however beware the “don’t lift the feet” part, because you really can’t walk, run or swing with the feet remaining flat during the entire motion.

      Really good stuff, my man – thanks for the support, and happy hitting in the new season! 🙂

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