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The Power Move - Charl Schwartzel Swing Sequence

Sit back and enjoy the awe-inspiring swing of South Africa’s Charl Schwartzel, already a two time winner this season with his sights set on the game’s biggest prizes. Analysis: Andrew Park

With back-to-back victories in his native South Africa earlier this season (at the Africa and Jo’Burg Opens), Charl Schwartzel has at last begun to realise the enormous potential many of us have been aware of since his days dominating junior golf in South Africa before turning professional at the age of 18 and qualifying that year (2002) for the European Tour.

And when you take a look at these fantastic images of his swing, and specifically this transition move from the top – i.e. this incredible ‘turn, load and squat’ sequence – it’s easy to see why he is one of the hottest talents in world golf.

Where does his power come from? Well, where do you want to start? Charl loads up his backswing with an extraordinary turn of the shoulders relative to the hips – the shoulders rotate well past 90 degrees, the hips have barely made 25-30 degrees. The torque here is mind-boggling! At the same time, he is young enough and athletic enough to keep his left heel planted and he (somehow) also manages to keep a straight left arm. For 99% of the golfing population, this is physically impossible.

The role of the legs/lower body is crucial in the coiling of the backswing and even more important as he then makes the transition into the downswing, and for any young players out there hoping to make it as a pro, this transition holds the key. Study and enjoy this powerful swing over the following pages – there is much you can learn from it.

What you might call a picture-perfect set up to a picture-perfect swing. Charl is 5’ 11” and fairly slim, and he stands with his feet comfortably apart for the driver. The left arm is comfortably straight and I want you to pay attention to this arm through the sequence – with his fantastic athleticism, Charl uses the left arm to produce width and power in what is a wonderfully balanced motion


The first move away from the ball (at left) sees the club swept low and wide – perfect. Now we can see how the extension of the arms in the backswing helps him to produce tremendous torque between the lower and upper body

Notice the great big turn of the shoulders into the right side, with the hands high and the arms fully extended – the look of a power hitter. And just look at the ratio of hip to- shoulder turn. This is the action of a very supple and athletic young player

Immense torque as Charl reverses the momentum of the swing, the weight flowing into the left side as he stabilises the recoil motion with fantastic strength in his lower body. And just look at the position of the left arm as it works down the chest, while the wrists remain fully cocked, ready to add a final burst of speed

The ideal impact position for delivering the power with the head steady behind the ball as Charl hits against a firm left leg, the hands leading upwards into the ball. Such is the force of the recoil he has grown in height, balanced up on the toe of the right shoe as he fires the clubhead into the ball

Great extension of the arms through impact as he rotates all the way through the ball, the quality of his body action giving him all the room he needs to release the club fully down the target line – all geared to him maximising clubhead speed

This could be the textbook finish, perfectly balanced with his belt buckle and right shoulder pointing towards the target – the product of an athletic and well-tutored swing. My advice to all young players out there? Copy this position!

A dynamic posture which sets up the body, arms and the club to be ‘in sync’ from the moment the swing gets underway – essential for efficiency and power

Charl starts the swing with the clubhead, arms and shoulders working as a unit, in one piece, while the lower body remains solid. Already the upper body is coiling against the resistance of the legs to create a powerful coiling motion


Notice the way in which Charl maintains his body angles all the way to the top of his swing. Notable here is the height to which Charl is able to get the hands at the top (a physical impossibility for most of us!). The club is just slightly across the line, in a very powerful position and one that enables Charl to produce the draw shape he looks for to maximise his distance off the tee with the driver

The key here is that the lower body leads the way into the downswing. This is the all-important transition that sets you up for impact. The hips are already facing the ball while the shoulders are still turned on the target – a phenomenal power position, packed with torque. From here on it’s all about unwinding the body to generate incredible speed via the centrifugal forces that are multiplied as rotational speed is converted into clubhead speed

From this angle we can see tremendous ‘separation’ between the upper and lower body as he unwinds to the impact zone – the hips are now wide open to the target, while the shoulders are closed, which results not only in the terrific leverage here but also in the club approaching the ball from the inside

The quality of the impact position boils down to the quality of the set up and the chain-reaction of moves that follow it – and this is bang on. At the heart of Charl’s swing is a body action that creates some tremendous torque, and this is multiplied through the transition to arrive at this impact position, the club and arms fully extended through the ball for maximum clubhead speed

The natural conclusion: Charl displays – and holds – a beautifully balanced follow-through position with both the hips and shoulders parallel to the ground. This tells me the swing has been executed in ‘sync’ from start to finish – and that’s your goal, too

Reproduced with kind permission of Golf International Magazine

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