This is not, I will say off the bat, any comparison between skill level or ability – people are always confusing swing technique versus the overall game or ability of a swinger and the two are not the same.
I have been looking at Cameron Champ’s down swing to impact however and have compared it to Brooks Koepka’s and this is the thing:
If you want to hit the ball longer but not spend a lifetime in the gym, then you want to improve your technique which will give you faster and easier results than trying to lay on additional muscle.
Brooks and Champ are both 183 cm in height (six feet even), and here is the big difference – Brooks weighs 205 lbs (93kg) to Cameron’s 175 (79kg), and both are what one would call athletic – at least, we keep hearing about what an athlete and thunder-god Brooks is.
So it’s curious that a guy who is that much stronger and more muscular (just going by what is being said ad nauseum on TV) and who outweighs a guy by 30 lbs lagged his smaller rival by 6 mph in club impact speed average 122.09 mph to 128.01 mph and nearly 10 mph in top speed (126.38 mph to 135.23 mph) in last season’s stats.
In fact, Cameron’s average club impact speed topped Brooks’ FASTEST swing by nearly 2 mph…
So, taking into account the obvious – that not all men are built the same, how is it that guys are in the gym trying to add muscle when it doesn’t appear to be the factor in determining speed?
The answer of course is that technique trumps muscle power when you get to a certain level, and Cameron’s technique with the driver is far superior to Brooks’.
If you look at Brooks’ top position versus Cameron’s on the down the line view, you would see right away that Champ has a bigger hip turn than Koepka.
Right there, the leverage factor is in Champ’s advantage. The best way to leverage your swing is with the hips and legs, and Cameron has more hip turn, therefore more leverage potential, than Brooks.
Not only that, the big restriction in hip turn with Brooks is likely a big factor in his requiring stem cell treatment on an injury to his left knee – when you restrict the hip turn by keeping the leading foot nailed down and still try to swing the left knee behind the ball, you’re putting an incredible amount of twisting strain on that leading knee:
You all know how many modern golf swingers, especially the power swingers, are having left knee surgery (Tiger Woods, Dustin Johnson and Brooks this year alone, and Michelle Wie has had left knee issues as well in the past).
Cameron Champ has had some sightings of swinging with a lifting left heel on the back swing, which would go a long way to relieving that twisting stress on the knee, but as I observed, he wasn’t doing that last weekend, so it could be a matter of time before he also develops left knee issues if he’s forcing that big a hip turn with a planted left heel.
But in terms of swing, you can see how smoothly Cameron gets from the top of the back swing to impact:
… while Brooks seems to have quite a hitch in his down swing halfway down, and remember this past summer, Peter Kostis claimed that a swing capture camera had Brook losing speed from halfway down to impact:
That would be the result of a restricted-hip back swing, because when you disconnect the upper body from the hips by restricting the hip turn and torquing the lower back, you’re not only placing twisting forces on the leading knee and lower back, you’re breaking the kinetic chain that gives you the leverage from the top of the back swing down into and through impact.
So, Cameron isn’t experiencing that break in the chain as significantly as Koepka because he’s still getting a good deal of hip turn, which means he’s able to leverage that club down into impact without doing the funky stuff between the top and impact that you see from a lot of power swingers on Tour (harpoon-diving into the ball like Tiger, standing up on the trailing leg like Koepka, etc.).
At the end of the day, my advice to anyone looking for more speed and power in their swing is not to get into the gym to build more muscle, but to improve one’s technique.
Technique trumps muscle, and if you don’t believe me, ask this guy:
Or this guy:
Back Pain or Back Injury Swinging a Golf Club?
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