Classic Principles Sneaking Up On Tour’s Modern Players

If I told you that the percentage of players on the PGA Tour who use the Classic Golf Swing principle of performing a free hip turn by allowing the leading heel to release on the back swing pivot is pretty low, you’d likely agree with me.

I like to use the term “release” or “floating” rather than “lifting,” because those two terms compared to the latter connote a passive action rather than a deliberate one.

As I’ve said, it’s not how high you lift the heel on the pivot (you don’t have to be Jack Nicklaus or Bubba Watson), but that you release the leading pressure (rather than deliberately trying to keep it down) to allow a free hip turn.

So, if I then told you that the percentage of Classic Golf Swing type players is on the rise and winning a higher percentage of Tour events than Modern Golf Swing players in comparison, you’d likely be surprised.

Jon Rahm

But let’s look at the numbers, shall we?

This season, we’ve seen at least 7 victories, including the first major, from players who pivot with a free hip action and a releasing leading heel:

  • Jon Rahm,
  • Bubba Watson ( 2 wins this season),
  • Phil Mickelson,
  • Rory McIlroy
  • Ian Poulter
  • Patrick Reed

I have seen Justin Rose and Rory McIlroy releasing the heel at various times in their careers, but neither of them does it enough for it to be a consistent part of their swing model, whereas the swingers above one their events this season swinging with a releasing leading heel.

However, if you see Rory on the weekend where he won the Arnold Palmer Invitational, he definitely was releasing his heel on the driver swing:

That makes at minimum 7 events won out of the 22 events (I didn’t include the 2 opposite field events to the WGC because, really, they’re opposite field to the main PGA Tour schedule events), and that is 31% of the events so far this season, when we know that nowhere near that percentage of players release the heel on their back swing pivots.

Ian Poulter

Heck, if you want to be a stickler and add the 2 OF events, it’s still 7 of 24 or 29% of the events played this season.

So, it’s not the the Classic Golf Swing is going to one day make a comeback on the Tour, it already has, and the players who swing with free hip turn and a releasing heel are dominating the winning percentage of Tour wins right now.

The Classic Golf Swing has also won the 1st major of the year.

Patrick Reed

This is incredible, when you think that I’m the one bringing this up and that you won’t hear a whisper of it in the actual industry that is making millions off of Modern Golf Swing lessons and methodology, to the point where analysts on TV will tell you a player isn’t swinging that way when he is

If you’re still swinging in the Modern style, you’re not only risking injury unnecessarily, but if you’re a pro, you’re decreasing your chances of winning a Tour event, since 30% of them this season have been won by players who are freeing their hips and releasing that leading heel.

The reason?

Simply, because this way of swinging is the natural way to swing, and so you’re going to get more consistent performance, all else being equal, than if you’re swinging in a way that isn’t natural for the body to move, such as using the twisting of the back to turn the shoulders rather than hip rotation.

You’ll also be likely to incur injuries simply from swinging a club, or experience chronic pain or soreness, all of which lessen practice time if not the number of events in which you play throughout the course of the season.

Something to chew on while you read magazines in your doctor’s or physio’s office waiting for treatment on that aching back or knee!

Back Pain or Back Injury Swinging a Golf Club?

Lacking Power, Speed, Distance and or Consistency? 

Need A Swing That Is More Easily Maintained?

If You Answered “Yes” To Any Of The Above Questions, The Answer Is In The Formula For The Golf Swing:

“E = MCS” The Swing Video


4 thoughts on “Classic Principles Sneaking Up On Tour’s Modern Players

  1. Jeff

    I don’t know about that Reed swing. IMHO, he deliberately lifts that heel at the END of his swing to use a stomping heel to trigger his downswing. It doesnt look llke a natural lift as part of his backswing. Then that leading foot hops all over the place on the follow through. Maybe it’s the angle, but those hips seem a bit tight too. Then again, I’m no expert and am just hooking the ball over the place so no room to talk.

    1. D Watts Post author

      A couple of points, Jeff:

      IMHO, he deliberately lifts that heel at the END of his swing to use a stomping heel to trigger his downswing. It doesnt look llke a natural lift as part of his backswing… those hips seem a bit tight too…

      It is a different-looking move, but as I said yesterday when I thought he wasn’t releasing the heel at all (’til I got a look at a different angle), it’s almost impossible to get that degree of “Swinging Gate” with the left thigh without releasing that heel, and he’s got a pretty big hip turn at the top:

      The left thigh past vertical and the belt buckle is turned nearly 90 degrees from the front, so he’s definitely got a full and free hip turn. If his lifting the heel is to get the “stomp” into the down swing, that’s the definition of leveraging the swing with the hips and legs.

      Second point:

      Then that leading foot hops all over the place on the follow through.

      That is definitely not optimal, but it has nothing to do with whether or not he’s turned his hips, as you’ll see that the highest heel-lifter on Tour does the same dance through impact:

      It is the result of not releasing the trailing foot, and if you don’t twist the leading foot around, you’re going to snap something in the leading ankle, knee or hip, or screw up the lower back big-time with the force of the follow-through.

      I hope that helps – as to your hooking issues, have you taken a look at your grip and hand position in the stance with regards to what I’ve referenced in the “E = MCS” video and/or the eBook?

      If you have a strong grip or too-centered hand position (or both), then that is the source of your hooking. A third option would be that you’re addressing the ball with the club face already closed, thinking it’s square. I did that for years.

      Take a look at it, and if you’re not sure what’s going, take a picture of your stance and email it to me, I’ll have a look! 🙂

  2. Jeff Brand

    Great breakdown. Love it DJ! Thanks for the clarification.

    Been really trying to focus on the grip/ hand position fundamentals and still hooking. I’m coming down way to inside on the way through the ball – nine to ten degrees per the SkyTrak. Think a better number is four to five from what I can gather.

    So I think I am getting the club face square to the target at impact but coming from so far inside ball starts 15 yards right of target and ends up 15+ left when it lands. Think my one magic move is to flat/inside/late in execution/something and I am ending up way to flat at the top.

    Away from home this week so I’ll test my theories when I get home. Good news is MN still getting snow so I have time to work it out before the season starts. Yeah, trying to find some positive from snow in April.

    1. D Watts Post author

      Hmmm, just a thought that you might want to check your stance and alignment if you’re coming that far in-to-out at impact, Jeff. The setup procedure should help you with that. We’re on hold here as well with the weather, I’ve only been out once this spring due to the cold temps and rain/snow.

      Hopefully we’ll both be out and at it soon! 🙂

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