Every so often a player comes along who just hits it different to everyone else. Back in 2000 anyone who watched Tiger up close will tell you there was something special about the strike and the ball flight, it sometimes felt as if the ground shook as he hit his stinger two iron. In more recent times Rory would definitely fall into that “something special” category. When he is on form it almost looks effortless as he catapults the ball 300+ yards in the air and and it sounds like a small cannon has just been shot. His coach Michael Bannon has done a fantastic job over the years developing Rory’s natural talent while also ensuring the fundamentals of Rory’s swing are correct. Its interesting to look at Rory’s swing evolution over the years and look at some of the changes he has made to produce such a phenomenal golf swing and win several majors along the way.
Looking at Rory’s set up the most noticeable difference to me is his physical appearance. Rory has clearly worked exceptionally hard over the last few years to get fitter and strong and it is very apparent by just looking at his set up and posture. Aside from that on the right he definitely appears to be standing a little taller over the golf ball
Looking at Rory’s takeaway we can begin to see a couple of noticeable differences. You will see the hands are at a very similar height (inline or just above the belt line, however the club itself is in a very different place. On the left you will see the club is still below and a little outside his hands, almost as if he has “dragged” the club away a little. The knock on affect of this is that the club face can point down a little too much and sit slightly too closed. On the right hand side, you will see the club has a lot more height vs the image on the left. Rory has now hinged his hands a lot more and the club face is in a slightly more open position (i.e. the toe of the club is more upright).
As Rory gets the club half way back you will begin to see his hands are slightly more in front of his body in the image on the right. I like this position as it sets him up with a more neutral clubface which you will see at the top of his backswing. Aside from the positioning of the hands you will see a slightly more stable lower body also. Although it is a little more difficult to see from this view, from face on it is far more apparent.
Top of Backswing
As Rory gets to the top of the back swing you will notice that in his more recent swing he is significantly shorter than his old swing. This will help him in two ways, firstly it should give him a little more control, and secondly it should make it easier for Rory to stop the club “dropping” too much underneath the plane line on the downswing. I really like the position of the clubface in the image on the right, you will notice the top line of the clubface sits parallel to his left arm and the plane line.
If you take a look at the older image on the left you will notice how much Rory’s hands have dropped in the backswing and as a result the club begins to approach the ball from behind his back. This traditionally will cause a more in to out swing direction, and if clubface conditions are correct will produce a right to left curve (Draw shape). As Rory’s bad shot tends to be a hook or a push, I would imagine he focus’s on keeping it more on or above the plane line as we can see on the right hand side. By achieving this it will reduce the in to out swing direction and thus reduce any right to left curvature assuming a neutral face.
As Rory approaches impact we can really see the difference between old and new. One thing in particular to pay attention to is the position of the club head relative to Rory’s back. On the left you will notice it is approaching the ball from significantly more under the plane line than on the right, this would generally cause a lot more right to left curvature for Rory. The swing on the right should help Rory produce a far more neutral ball flight with the correct face conditions at impact.
Looking at Rory’s impact it would appear that very little is wrong in either one, and that would be a very fair assessment but believe it or not he has made a couple of small improvements. Most notably you will see the structure of his spine has stayed a bit more intact on the right hand side. This will be due to a number of factors including Rory’s physical strength improvements, a less in to out swing direction and also less early extension in his downswing. This could be one of the most important things for Rory in terms of longevity as it should take a significant amount of pressure away from his lower back.
Rory’s finish has always been, and remains extremely balanced and athletic. Rory’s swing has definitely become one of the most effective and impressive on tour, and in my opinion if he sticks to what he is doing with his current team, there is a lot more major victories to come.