As a high school senior, Grace Park was invited to participate in a long-drive contest with Laura Davies and two other LPGA Tour players at the Standard Register PING tournament in Phoenix. Davies won, but Amazing Grace finished a close second with a drive that approached 300 yards. She was only 17.
Three years later, Park was on the verge of surpassing Davies as the longest women's hitter in the game, evidenced by her 263.4-yard driving average at the 1999 U.S. Women's Open -- almost nine yards longer than the next contender.
View Park's swing in its entirety, or frame by frame, below. Note: Flash plug-in required. Can't see the image? Download the latest version here.
Keys to Park's Swing
The 1998 U.S. Women's Amateur champion has a swing that combines power with, yes, grace. It begins with a stance that is very wide (1), which helps Park maintain her balance throughout the swing. Her weight always stays between her feet. Halfway back (2), Park's arms are fully extended, promoting a very wide swing arc. The club is in front of her body, and her weight has shifted over her right instep, setting up the remarkable shoulder turn you see (3).
It's here that Grace generates her awesome power, the shoulders having turned well past 90 degrees. Just look at the position of her left shoulder, directly over the right thigh. If she were any more wound up, she might snap. This tight coil gives her tremendous leverage and the ability to sling it out there 300 yards.
Halfway down (4), she looks a lot like Karrie Webb. You can see the whip action of the clubshaft, which is still almost vertical. The clubhead is lagging behind, her body is unwinding and pulling the club into a very powerful position at impact. And her lower body is leading the way, a sign of incredible leg strength and flexibility. Most women don't have the strength in their legs to hold this position; instead, they spin out.
At impact (5), you can see the classic straight line from the clubhead to the left shoulder. Park's left arm is completely extended, and she's hitting against a firm left leg. Her hips have cleared, allowing her hands and arms to swing the club aggressively through the hitting area.
Through impact (6), Park's head remains behind the ball as the arms rotate freely. Her finish is perfectly balanced (7), the result of her smooth tempo.
Grace's Swing Keys
1. SHORTER. The more compact my swing, the easier it is to keep the club in balance and under control. I used to have a very long, high swing, which made it difficult to control my shots.
2. TIGHTER. I want my windup to feel tight and compact, not loose. By keeping the width of my swing constant, I also control the length, which leads to greater consistency.
3. FLATTER. I try to keep my forward swing very low to the ground at impact, as well as my takeaway. This helps to generate greater clubhead speed and more solid contact.
The Stat Sheet
• Born: March 6, 1979, in Seoul, South Korea
• Height: 5-foot-6 • Weight:
• Residence: Phoenix, Arizona
• School: Arizona State
• LPGA Career Victories: 5 (As of April 2004)
• AMAZING STATS: Led the Tour in 2003 with 46 rounds in the 60s, including a career-low 63 at Welch's/Fry's Championship, which tied the LPGA's single-season record (set by Kelly Robbins in 1997)...As an amateur, led the field in driving distance at both 1999 Nabisco Dinah Shore and U.S. Women's Open.
• FAMILY: Father Soo-Nam owns a steak restaurant in Korea and mother Jinae sports a single-digit handicap.