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Hitting the Big Time

Henrik Stenson - Pete Cowan

Look at any world-class player, a powerful player, and one of the things that strikes you is the way in which they are able to turn on the heat and draw on extra power as and when they need to - it’s as if it’s on tap.

The initial four frames in both of these views of Henrik’s swing with a driver give you a very strong impression of just how much power he has at his disposal, as he demonstrates a wonderful body action that provides the 'engine’ to the swing. Following on from that, the immediate start to the downswing is a terrific example to all golfers of the way in which players of this calibre then retain that power for impact.

As ever, it all starts at the set-up, and Henrik uses his full height to create a consistent position with his own 'dynamic balance’. At 6’ 1", he is a lot taller than most people, and yet he doesn’t need quite the knee flex that some might suggest.

Looking down the line, pay attention to the fact that the arms are allowed to hang 'free’ from the shoulders - there is no stress or tension in the arms or shoulders.

All the lines are square and on line. Henrik’s initial coil starts from the ground upwards - as it must. With a terrific body action, he is rotating and gradually coiling up his swing. I particularly like the way in which he achieves great hand, arm and club balance - and everything is in perfect plane.

From that first move, Henrik simply continues the coiling motion and at the same time retains the angle between his left arm and the clubshaft. As you can see, he cocks his wrists a little later than most, and this reflects the fact that he is so strong and engineers his swing with such a terrific body action (not dissimilar to Tiger).

Oh, and here’s a challenge for all you wannabe swing sleuths out there: for my money, golf’s socalled 'secret move’ is right here, in frame 3 looking the line.

You could ask all of the top coaches in the world and I don’t think they would guess what it is.

The position that we see at the top of the swing is simply classic. Henrik is now fully loaded, his shoulders having turned through a full 90 degrees, the club nowparallel with the ball-to-target line. And yet, as he arrives here, he is already in the process of starting the reverse-coil back down.

Look at the action of the left leg between frames 3 and 4; it is stronger as he reaches the top in readiness to support the transition and shifting of weight back into the left side.

Again, the reverse coil starts from the ground up. This is something you can improve in your own swing with basic body pivot exercises. As you unwind, you should get a sense that your belt buckle is re-rotating back towards the target.

As Henrik reverses momentum, we can see that his left arm and right leg fall nicely are in line - and these, incidentally, are great lines for power delivery. The quality of this body action is what helps him to retain the lag betwen his left arm and the shaft, and that spells one thing: power.

This power line is again evident at the moment of impact, as the left arm and left leg 'match up’. He is retaining what I term the 'pressure line’; his body is in the process of turning and opening to stabilise the impact (and when you hit it as hard as he does, you need stable impact!).

Through the ball, he displays a strong left side and good extension - a continuation of the previous frame and simply the result of one good move leading to another, a reaction to a particular action.

The finish is simply the conclusion to a series of great moves, and though we’re looking at a static frame, it hints at the wonderful balance that typifies Henrik’s entire action. One thing you have to understand to properly learn and develop a golf swing is that power is not purely about speed.

I believe there are four power sources to draw on - speed, pressure, rotation and leverage - and the longest hitters out there use all four. Henrik achieves a high percentage in each category, which is why he is long and straight. One of my favourite quotes is 'the road to success is always under construction’.

Those of you who are serious about taking your game to a higher level need to work on improving your body action - the body is the engine room, the arms and club are the steering wheel.

If you’ve got a good engine, it’s easy to steer. And Henrik’s firing on all cylinders.

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Reproduced with kind permission of Golf International Magazine

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