Paul McGinley - Keys to My Game
by Paul McGinley & Richard Simmons
What can you learn from my technique? Well, quite
simply, for consistency in your ball-striking it's all
about maintaining stability in the lower body and on
engaging your body 'core' to generate momentum
Along with the help of my long-time
coach, Bob Torrance, that's what I work on to keep
my game in shape.
We are all prone to occasionally
losing our timing and feel for our golf swing, and
whenever I sense that is happening I go back to
Over the following pages I'll show you
exactly what I mean - and, hopefully, provide a few
practical pointers that you can go out and work on.
MY NO.1 THOUGHT?: ENERGY & MOMENTUM COMES FROM THE BODY 'CORE'
Thanks to the guidance of Bob [Torrance] for the
last 20-odd years, I feel I have a pretty good understanding
of what makes my game tick and the specific
things I have to be aware of in terms of day to
So, for example, I know that I
want my body to dominate the swing, and to
achieve that I work on what is termed a 'body-release',
in that I rely on the rotation of my body to
generate speed and square up the clubface for impact.
This is the primary key to my consistency. My
goal, always, is to minimise the workings of the
hands - and this applies all the way through the
ball, from the driver to the putter.
Obviously, when you place such an emphasis
on your body for the control of the shape and
structure of the swing, you need to make sure
that you have a good set-up position.
the majority of my fellow pros, I spend a lot of
my time checking out the details of my set-up
and alignment. I'm looking for good body angles,
but not overly 'sharp' angles (i.e. I don't want to
appear that I'm trying too hard to create artificial
angles). With a good flex of the knees, a gentle
bend from the hips and the head relaxed,my arms hang into a comfortable ready posture.
'What is it, specifically, that initiates the swing?'.
This is a question I get asked a lot on golf
days and in pro-ams, and the answer reinforces
my comments earlier about minimising the role
of the hands. When I'm over the ball at the setup,
I'm thinking of my body 'core' initiating my
swing - I'm not thinking of manipulating or moving
the club with the hands.
In other words, I
place the sensation of initiating my swing movement
within the area of the stomach, hips and
top of the legs - the shaded area in this sequence.
This is the area I feel controls that all important
first move away from the ball. And
when you trust in that sensation, the arms,
hands and the club itself go along with the consensus
of that motion.
The result is that the
clubhead stays low to the ground and traces a
nice wide arc away from the ball. (Not for me
any of that wristy pre-setting of the wrists.That
complicates things too much.)
All my gym work is geared towards the control
in this core area. I work on golf-specific exercises
that help me to engage the muscles
within this core area, and the result is that I feel
very strong and stable as I get my swing underway.
Look at the first few frames of this sequence:
the control is with the core, and as I
gather momentum the bigger muscles in the
torso and shoulders naturally become engaged.
For me, this is the engine-room of the swing.
The stomach, the hips and the top of the legs.
This is the power source and where my gym
work is aimed. Every day I'm doing something
to stay strong in this area and engage these
muscles in taking the club back.
FEEL THE POWER IN YOUR FEET AND UNWIND FROM THE GROUND UP
OK, now I'm going to pick up my commentary
from the top of the backswing - which, as you
can see, is a relatively compact position, the
arms and the body in harmony and my lower
body solid (in these photos I'm using a 6-iron).
What happens next - the transition, or the reversing
of the gears as you shift direction - is
the defining moment in the golf swing and the
way in which you begin to unwind will make or
break the shot. The point that I want to stress
again here is that a good leg action is the vital
component in the process.
Using the grip and
the traction that you have with the ground, your
legs initiate this reversing of the motion to create
a sort of reflex motion that multiplies the
centrifugal forces acting on the clubhead as the
natural order of these events run their course.
You may have heard the expression to 'unwind
from the ground up', and that's exactly the
way you must feel it. Your feet maintain the stability
in the lower body as the left knee, left hip
and left side re-rotate back towards the target,
this dynamic enabling you to engage those 'core'
muscles in the ultimate phase of the motion, as
you rotate hard and accelerate the clubhead
into the back of the ball.
Unwinding in this desired ground-up sequence
is the secret to good timing, and that's what I am
occasionally prone to losing. When the timing
goes I feel myself go at the ball too early with the
right shoulder from the top of the backswing,
which throws the club forward and off track.As
soon as that happens I remind myself of the importance
of 'waiting for it', giving myself the time
to unwind correctly, and let the lower body lead
me into the downswing.
That is the only way to unlock your true power potential.
One thing I will say, after turning 40 last year, is
that the time I spend in the physio's van is just as
important now as anything else I do to keep my
game in shape. I spend less time hitting balls on
the range and more time in the gym and with the
physio now than at any time in my career. I simply
cannot swing the club the way I want to with
any type of stiffness in my back, shoulders or
As you get older, your body doesn't wake
up every morning 'firing', so you have to ignite it.
I don't want to become a hands-oriented player,
so it's important to keep my body in shape. Alive.
Able to swing a club with this dynamic motion. A
lot of massaging, physio and golf-specific exercises
enable me to make the swing I want to
A lot of swing faults occur as a result of
being 'tight' and not physically able to swing the
club in a certain way. Obviously this is huge aspect
of professional golf, but I would suggest it's
equally important to businessmen who spend a
lot of time sitting at a desk or in a car.
Finally, these swing thoughts apply all the way
through the bag.This game is tough enough without
having a dozen different thoughts with different
clubs. As long as you pay attention to the rules
that govern creating a good set-up, you will find
that you can repeat a good technique with the
same feelings,whether you're using a driver or a
Train it, practise it, and - when you get
on the golf course - go out there and trust it.You
don't want to be thinking of the type of swing you
are looking to make, or any other element of technique.
Focus 100% on the shot and on your
That's the way forward to
lower scoring and more enjoyment.