Last season was a good one for me. I won on the PGA Tour for the first time in more than four years, contributed two points to the winning European side in the Ryder Cup and, to be honest, felt like I enjoyed the game more than I have in quite a while. I chalk up the success to a commitment I made early in the year to control my emotions a bit better and adopt a more competitive attitude. I'd be lying if I said it was the result of a breakthrough swing discovery or a new magic move.
Nope, my technique is the same as it's always been, and the foundation of that technique is built on four key moves that have been part of my motion since day one. These are simple swing thoughts that allow me to position the bottom of my swing in the right spot so I can catch the ball crisply and in the center of the sweet spot with every iron in the bag. If you're struggling with contact and missing more than your fair share of greens, give my moves a try and see if they don't help you realize the success you deserve, just as they have for me.
YOUR SERGIO TRANSLATOR
According to Top 100 Teacher Brian Manzella, Sergio's swing is "in the Top 10 -- maybe Top 5 -- of all time."
That good? "Let's put it this way," Manzella says, "Sergio's is the best 'lower-back-plane' swing of the past 40 years, or, said another way, the best one where the shaft bisects the lower back once it settles on the downswing."
While many point to Sergio's tremendous clubhead lag as his key swing trait, Manzella says that folks are missing the point. "Any good golfer can create lag, but nobody -- nobody -- knows how to release it like Garcia. Most lag guys drag the handle through impact. Sergio lets it all go. The man doesn't get enough credit for how dynamic -- or good -- his swing really is."
High praise from a teacher who knows what he's talking about, which is why we asked Manzella to provide additional insight into El Niño's key moves so that you can more easily add them to your own motion.
EASY IRON MOVE 1: STAND TALLER AT ADDRESS
Your address position doesn't feature any moving parts, so there's no reason you can't make it as good as a Tour pro's. First thing: Bend forward and stand at a distance from the ball that allows your upper arms to hang straight down from your shoulder sockets (below left). You can check this by simply removing your hands from the grip and seeing how your arms naturally hang when you're in your setup. Not only does this create less tension at address, it gives your arms freedom to swing back and through at maximum speed.
I tend to swing poorly when I bend forward too much at address and get my head and shoulders too far down. Notice how much more cramped I am in the right photo above than I am in the one in the center, and how much flatter my posture is. This is just enough of an error to rob me of the athleticism I need to swing at my best. While it's a good idea to get your arms hanging straight down, try to do it with a more erect posture, even with a short iron in your hands. As I say to myself when I practice, "Keep your height."
TRANSLATION: A TALLER POSTURE MAKES IT EASIER TO TURN
Garcia's a pretty normal-size guy, but he can hit his 4-iron farther than most amateurs can hit their driver. He gets his power by combining his famous arm swing with the powerful rotation he creates, in part, by turning his torso all the way to the right during his backswing. His turn is a big part of his engine, and most of us can turn better from a taller posture than from one that's more bent. Plus, a taller posture naturally supports a flatter downswing plane, which as you'll see on the next page, is Garcia's telltale swing trait.