Steve Stricker: A Complete Swing Analysis Part 4 (Move 3-The Downswing)

The downswing is probably the most misunderstood and misinterpreted move by amateur golfers in the golf swing.  It must be understood that the downswing is largely an uncoiling motion or a reaction to a proper backswing.  The key point that must be illustrated is that the forces of movement in the downswing originate from the hips in a weight shift and pulling with the left oblique, NEVER from the upper body, shoulders, arms, etc.
The proper sequence of the downswing is as follows:
1.  Plant the weight firmly by pushing the left heel into the ground.
2.  Pull from the left oblique, which in turn will rotate the left hip behind you.
3.  Pull with the left lat to pull the arms back in front of the torso.
4.  Optional – fire the right arm by extending from the right elbow.

The result of this chain of events occurring in sequence and being performed from the proper origin is rotational force; the body moves away from the target and the arms and club moves towards the target.  A separation between the hips and the upper torso in the downswing is maximized when the sequence of movements are performed correctly.  Highest ball speeds are produced by those producing the maximal rotational separation between the upper torso and pelvis.

As we begin to examine Stricker’s downswing, it should be noted that Stricker finished 9th on the PGA Tour in proximity to the hole, and he hit over 2/3 of both fairways and greens this season.  He has proven himself to be an excellent ball striker, as he does a fantastic job of getting that club on plane on the way down, which is a true testament to both his tremendous athletic ability and work ethic.  Examining his swing from a purely anatomical and biomechanical perspective, however, we will see how the average golfer would likely struggle to recreate Stricker’s move without ample time to practice and improve the timing due to some of the inefficiencies that exist. The first image below is our Rotary Swing Model Chuck Quinton.

When comparing the face on view at impact for our model and Stricker, you can see from the yellow line that Stricker was unable to make a complete shift into his left side which leaves his left hip short of neutral joint alignment.  This has occurred because Striker failed to roll his ankles in slightly at address, which allowed the weight to get trapped on the outside of his right foot during Move 2.  A second cause is Stricker’s need to actively use his arms in his downswing because of his previously discussed push from the left side during Move 1 which allowed his arms to work too deep in his backswing.

This series of photos from down the line illustrates how the lack of proper weight shift has affected Stricker’s hip rotation as compared to our model.  The arrow pointing to the right heel shows how our model has efficiently transferred the majority of his weight into the left heel, and is pulling with that left oblique which allows for the right heel to passively rise off of the ground.


Stricker demonstrates a much flatter right foot at impact indicating there is still a significant amount of weight left on his right side.

This move can lead to a variety of results, most notably, the hands and arms outracing the body rotation which usually leads to pulls and hooks.  In addition, maximum rotational separation between the upper torso and the pelvis cannot be achieved, resulting in a loss of power.

Steve Stricker: A Complete Swing Analysis Part 3 (Move 2-Back to Target)

Move 2 is the completion of the backswing, and specifically, the shoulder turn.  To briefly summarize what occurs in Move 2:

1.    Shoulder blade glide continues turning the shoulders another 45 degrees for a full 90 degree     turn.
2.    The shoulder blade glide pulls the hips to turn approximately 45 degrees.
3.    Arms elevate, hinging from the shoulders (Shoulder Elevation).
4.    The right arm hinges at the elbow (Right Elbow Flexion).
5.    External rotation of the right humerus occurs.



The effects of Stricker’s Setup and Move 1 become more clearly defined in Move 2.



By this point in the backswing, the Rotary Swing Model advocates that an efficient right shoulder blade glide will have turned the shoulders almost a full 90 degrees and the hips approximately 45 degrees.  This is demonstrated by Chuck Quinton on the left, as the yellow arrow illustrates the position of the right shoulder.  Notice how Chuck’s right shoulder is not apparent in the photo, while Stricker’s right shoulder is clearly visible, indicating the inefficient turn due to the arms dominating the backswing.  The orange arrow further highlights this point as Stricker’s left shoulder has “shrugged” and is disconnected from the core muscles of his body.  The blue arrow illuminates that Stricker’s left arm is above his right, further indicating his arm driven turn.


When examining Stricker from down the line at the same point in his swing, we must pay attention to the circled area.  Stricker’s hands are noticeably behind his sternum, his right elbow is securely glued to his side, and the left forearm is over-pronated.  Once again, Stricker’s push from the left side has caused the club to work too deep, too around, and too flat at this point in his backswing.  He has failed to perform proper shoulder elevation which is responsible for creating some vertical movement of the club to keep the club on plane.


Here we can see the full results of Stricker’s complete backswing.  The orange arrow illustrates the arms being too deep and slightly behind the torso.  The red arrow highlights the loss of right knee flexion, which can lead to weight transfer issues in the downswing.  Finally, the yellow line was placed on the front of Stricker’s head at address, and it is quite clear how much he moves toward the ball on the backswing.  This tipping forward onto the balls of the feet is inevitable for Stricker, because his body must attempt to counterbalance the forces that he created by pushing the club to the inside.



This final image serves to illustrate the effects of Stricker failing to roll his ankles in slightly at address.  The black arrow on Stricker’s right foot shows how his weight has rolled to the outside portion of the ball of the foot.  Notice the white arrow on Chuck that shows that foot securely planted on the ground.

The culmination of Steve Stricker’s slight flaws: push from the left, out of the box, lack of shoulder elevation, loss of the flex in the right knee, and weight distributed over the outside portion of the right foot all contribute to make a proper weight transfer more difficult, even for an elite golfer.  This shall be examined in detail in our next installment, Move 3-The Downswing.