HOW TO SWING LIKE AN OPEN CHAMPION!
Catriona has been working with her coach Kevin Craggs, who is the SGU National Golf Coach for the past two and a half years. Here Kevin comments on the key moves in her swing:
"One of the main reasons Catriona is such a consistent golfer is because we have kept things very simple in her swing by focusing on her foundations and regularly checking that she has good fundamentals. The little things like having a good solid base should never be neglected. I always talk about stability in the swing, as stability is very important. Catriona controls this by having great posture at address and a consistent width of stance. Her weight distribution is also constant so that she is able to swing with great balance and poise. I've given Catriona a number of simple drills to help her with her practice. This is what I like to call supervised practice, so that even when I'm not travelling with her to a tournament, she has a number of guides with her to ensure that she is practising the right moves in the correct manner. These training aids are a useful addition to every golfer's bag. They give you a focus and plan to your practice"
One of the key things that we have worked very hard on in Catriona's swing is establishing a good spine angle at address and keeping this constant throughout her swing. I think that this is a good piece of advice for all golfers, no matter what skill level they are at, because staying balanced really simplifies the idea of swinging the club around your body. Without consistent angles the swing has to be manufactured and this often leads to poor performance with a necessity for great timing to make up for it.
"My check points at address" (down the line pic)
There are three simple checks I constantly make when I set up to the ball:
1) My knees should not be in front of the lace line of my golf shoes.
2) The centre of my shoulders should be in front of my toes.
3) My left ear should be in line with the ball.
So it's basically the feet, the knees, the shoulder line and the head line that I make sure are correct - the constant points that give me swing consistency.
Perfect wrist set
Historically Catriona used to struggle with her takeaway, setting her wrists poorly in the backswing, which meant she had to manipulate the club onto plane in the backswing, so we have worked on this first move a lot. I have used a very simple training aid (pictured) to help Catriona learn how to set her wrists correctly in the backswing. This gives her a clear indication/visual aid that the club is set on plane correctly each time.
The inner swings the outer
I think many golfers are guilty of being too 'arm swing' dominant. What I mean by this is that they let their arm swing overtake their body swing. It's one of the swing faults that we've worked on preventing in Catriona's move, by focusing on getting her to feel the bigger muscles working in her golf swing. I call this 'the inner swinging the outer', which basically means the core (centre of my body) controls the swing, not the hands and arms. She wraps a piece of stretchy band around her legs in practice to help her keep a stable lower half so that she can focus on the swing of the upper body.
Balance and rhythm
The final fundamentals we work extremely hard on in Catriona's swing are her balance and rhythm, in particular maintaining good balance throughout the backswing, downswing and into my followthough. This really helps her with swing control.
Catriona's final tip: "Practice Intelligently"
Many ladies on Tour spend hours beating balls on the range but I have learnt that it is important to practice intelligently, which means working harder for less time but on the right things for the tournament week. When I play on the LPGA Tour in the US it's the same kind of golf week-in, week-out but over in Europe there are so many different courses we play that different shots are required every week. Which means I might have to work on high lobs around the greens one week or bump and runs the next. The important thing is to practice intelligently and productively for that event.
Carly spoke to Catriona Matthew at the Aberdeen Asset Management Ladies Scottish Open at Archerfield Links, East Lothian earlier this year. Catriona is an Aberdeen Asset Management ambassador, part of the global asset manager's support for Scottish golf at all levels, from the amateur to the professional game.