Big Play: How Ken Green rebuilt his swing

Wednesday April 28th, 2010
Ken Green is able to maximize his power despite playing on a prosthetic leg.
David Walberg/SI

Who: Ken Green
What: Played 54 holes in competition
Where: Westin Savannah Harbor Resort
When: Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf

Ken Green's return to competition following a car accident which killed his girlfriend and brother and took his right leg is one of the most inspiring feats I've seen during my career. It's also a terrific learning opportunity, because having a prosthetic on the lower half of the right leg forces Green to swing like an average golfer and make one of the most common swing errors.

The prosthetic prohibits Green from initiating the downswing with a weight-shift to the left (or target) side of his body. In turn, that throws off the entire sequence of the downswing, which should be: 1) Weight shift to the left; 2) Rotate your lower body to the left; and 3) Release the club. Every good player initiates the swing with a weight shift to the left, but few amateurs do that. Instead, amateurs usually swing mostly with their arms and hands, and that results in a weak and inaccurate motion.

Green's advantage is that he's such a good player, so he's aware of his crucial problem. He knows that he'll have to compensate for the lack of a weight shift to the left at the start of the downswing. To compensate, Green creates leverage with his forearms and upper body in the downswing to generate power and precision.

As much as we all want to see Green succeed, the odds are against him. He can play good golf, but I don't think he'll be able to generate enough power to compete on the Champions Tour. The players on the senior circuit might be geezers, but they are strong and deadly accurate geezers.

The Drill: To learn the proper downswing sequence (starting with a weight-shift to the left) and maximize your swing speed, swing a driver while holding it upside down. Grip the neck (just above the hosel) of the club, and take full swings. If you have a proper downswing and generate enough power, you'll hear a high-pitched "whoosh" sound as the grip end of the club whips through the impact area.

Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher T.J. Tomasi teaches at the PGA Center for Golf Learning and Performance in Port St. Lucie, Fla.

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