Dangers of Copying a Pro’s Swing

Adam Scott at the top Photo at Youtube.com

Adam Scott at the top
Photo at Youtube.com

Here we are in the dead of winter and I am fighting the irresistible urge to tinker with my golf swing.  Last weekend, it was 60 degrees and I spent two hours on the range and had a real good opening session.  Probably too good, which is why I’m feeling greedy.  If you are like me, the reason we do this is because of the safety factor of winter.  You can make minor tweaks or wholesale changes during periods of inactivity without suffering the consequences of a slump-inducing fix.  I know it’s a bad idea and still do it.  Do you as well?

Two years ago, I became infatuated with Adam Scott’s golf swing and tried to impart his down the line setup and move through the ball.  I loved the way he kept his spine angle rock solid and the way he torqued against his very stable lower body, and modeled it for myself over the winter.  Problem is this 54-year old bag of bones has nothing in common with Adam Scott.  The wholesale changes fell apart with the first ball struck in anger.

The modern day swings of players like Scott, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day, and Dustin Johnson, are all modeled off Tiger Woods and are not meant to be copied by desk jockeys.  Each has clearly spent many hours in the gym, and if you watch the follow through with their driver swings, each gets tremendous body rotation and the shaft points towards the target at finish.  Is the human back designed to undergo this much rotational stress over a protracted period?  I’m left to think that it’s not and players with a more upright swing like Phil Mickelson are doing their backs a favor.  Phil has his own physical issues, but I suspect lower back pain is not one of them.  Only one guy on the Senior Tour torques his body even close to these guys and that is Fred Couples.  Most others have more of a classic restricted finish and are still playing into their 50s.  Of course, Freddy’s back issues are well known and I can’t help but wonder, beautiful tempo aside, if the tremendous rotation he gets is responsible.

Adam Scott follow through Photo by ESPN

Adam Scott follow through
Photo by ESPN

So I smartly re-read the Grateful Golfer’s post on The Best Golf Swings Ever, where he reminded us that despite the number of writings and videos available on the swings of the greatest professionals of all time, the swing we should be working on is our own.  This is great advice and would add that you copy the visualization, pre-shot routines, and mental preparation of the top pros, but when it comes to swing mechanics, focus on improving your own technique.

So it’s off to go pump some 12 oz curls old style.  See you in the gym.

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About Brian Penn

Avid sports fan and golf nut. I am a lifelong resident of the Washington D.C. area and love to follow the local teams. Also worked as a golf professional in the Middle Atlantic PGA for several years and am intrigued by the game to no end. I love to play and practice and am dedicated to continual improvement.
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6 Responses to Dangers of Copying a Pro’s Swing

  1. Brian

    You are absolutely right about coping someone else’s swing! I laughed when you said your “54 year old bag of bones” because I resemble that remark! I think your point about visualizing the proper techniques then use your own swing to emulate is perfect! You cannot be more correct. Thanks for the mention. I am grateful!

    Cheers
    Jim

  2. Brian Penn says:

    Jim, what I wouldn’t give for 20 years of lost flexibility. But you can only joke about it because it happens to us all. . .even some day to Adam Scott.

    Thanks,

    Brian

  3. Brian

    A lot of interesting points in here to chew on! Great post

    Cheers
    Josh

  4. Brian Penn says:

    Josh, thanks for the look. I won’t be too tempted any time soon as we’re getting dumped on with 6-8″ of the white stuff. Please let it end soon.

    Thanks,

    Brian

  5. Brian- maybe those swings are too much stress and torque even for the pros if we take Tiger’s injury filled career as an example.

    • Brian Penn says:

      CG,
      I believe you have hit the nail on the head. It may not play out for several years, but the high torque swing may shorten the duration of the average PGA pro career if it continues to be adopted by the top tier of players. Just my take.

      Thanks!

      Brian

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