WHO: Ted Potter
WHAT: A nine-iron to 4' 10'' for the winning birdie
WHERE: 162-yard par-318th hole at the Greenbrier
WHEN: Sudden-death playoff at the Greenbrier Classic
Potter is a perfect example of how you don't need a textbook-perfect swing to be a PGA Tour winner. Clearly, he's a guy who understands his strengths and weaknesses and just knows how to get the ball into the hole. Potter's swing has a couple of unorthodox elements that offset each other and allow him to produce great results, though the swing is so funky that it's not the epitome of consistency. Potter had missed five straight cuts before the Greenbrier.
Potter has a normal takeaway, going straight back, but from there he gets very steep and upright in the rest of the backswing. Normally, a backswing as steep as Potter's would produce a slice or cut. But in the downswing, Potter does a good job of working very hard to keep his head behind the ball, which allows him to flatten (i.e. shallow) out his swing. Then at impact, he releases his arms very aggressively, while keeping his head behind the ball, to an exceptionally low finish position. So the steep backswing and shallow downswing and follow-through cancel out each other.
THE DRILL: I wish all golfers would keep their heads behind the ball yet stay super aggressive with the arms through impact like Potter. In the downswing, most players stay back with their bodies, but not their heads, and get tentative with their arms at impact. Potter keeps everything back but makes a full, strong release.
Here's an easy way to help keep your head back and have an aggressive release. Simply focus your eyes on the back inside quadrant of the ball at address and remain focused on that spot on the ball until after impact. Doing that will guarantee that you keep your head behind the ball.
To identify the inside quadrant, imagine you're looking at the ball from the sky. Divide the ball into four equal sections. The back inside quadrant is to the left and rear (furthest from the target) as you stand at address and look down. I pick out a specific spot on my ball in the back inside quadrant and focus on that spot. That's easy to do on the tee. I tee up the ball with a number or letter (the T in Titleist, for example) in the back inside quadrant. Elsewhere, select a dimple or other clearly identifiable mark on the ball.
Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Jim Murphy teaches at Sugar Creek Country Club in Sugar Land, Texas.
WHO: Ted Potter