Analysis by Top 100 Teacher Brad Redding
The Resort Club at Grande Dunes
Myrtle Beach, S.C.
In a recent interview, Camilo Villegas quipped, "I know my swing better than anyone." That's because it's undergone a serious transformation. He walked onto the University of Florida campus as a 139-pound freshman and the shortest hitter on the squad, and left as a 160-pound senior and one of the longest hitters in Division I. Whereas his game in Colombia stressed touch and finesse, his collegiate rounds emphasized power, a new state of mind fueled by countless hours in the weight room.
Villegas's swing is explosive. He has one speed on the course: all out he's an Arnold Palmer in tight pants and long hair. This approach makes it easy for him to commit to the shot at hand without any second-guessing. But it's also an albatross fast swings lead to bouts of inaccuracy, even for someone as talented as Villegas.
Regardless of how fast you like to swing your clubs, pay attention to Villegas's takeaway and backswing. If you copy his positions here, you'll find it easy to keep your club on the correct plane and hit accurate shots.
2 of 8Mark Newcombe/Visions in Golf
Villegas has a rock-solid setup position. Notice how he bends from his hips and keeps his back "neutral" (not too straight, not too hunched). More important, a line running up the shaft through the grip bisects his hips. Absolutely perfect.
3 of 8Mark Newcombe/Visions in Golf
Villegas starts his takeaway by turning his back, chest and shoulders while hinging the club up with his wrists. This allows him to keep the clubshaft on the same plane as at address, with the clubhead outside his hands. This is the definition of "on plane."
4 of 8Mark Newcombe/Visions in Golf
Villegas raises the club slightly above his original swing plane. It's a common move, but what's more critical is that he swings his left arm across his chest. This indicates that he's turning his chest, back and shoulders and not simply lifting the club up.
5 of 8Mark Newcombe/Visions in Golf
As he starts down from the top, Villegas flattens out his swing plane. Check out the way he "sits down" and how much his hips have spun toward the target (compare the position of the scorecard in his back right pocket from slides 3 and 4).
6 of 8Mark Newcombe/Visions in Golf
Do you hear the whip crack? Villegas's left leg snaps straight through impact, with his hips and his extra-large belt buckle facing the target. But check out his shoulders they're only half as open as his hips. This is a very powerful move.
7 of 8Mark Newcombe/Visions in Golf
Notice how the shaft moves back onto the shaft plane established at address [inset photo]. At the finish, you can really see his strength and flexibility: His upper body has turned more than his lower body, with the clubshaft pointing to the target. He's left nothing in the bag.
8 of 8Mike Ehrmann/SI
HOW TO SWING WITH CONTROLLED AGGRESSION
Do you think strength pays? Check Villegas's distance stats and take a good luck at his biceps. They're both huge. Strong arms, however, allow you to do more than just swing fast. Extra muscle here allows you to go as hard as you want without causing your technique to fall apart. Watch any well-built golfer and you'll rarely see them flip their hands or slide their legs toward the target through impact. If you tend to make these errors, slow down your swing or hit the weight room.
A. POWER POSTURE: Camilo has rotated his shoulders 90 degrees relative to his spine, but his back retains the angle it established at address. This is a critical key to consistent contact, especially if you're trying to ramp up your swing speed.
B. POWER GEOMETRY: Look how Villegas's shoulders and arms form a perfect triangle, and how a straight line drawn from his sternum would bisect his hands. As long as you can form this triangle at this point in your swing, you can go after the ball as hard as you want.
C. POWER PLUG: Notice how Villegas straightens his left leg. Doing this keeps him centered and allows him to rotate his hips and keep his right knee moving toward the target. Without a straight left leg, you lose torque and consistency.• More swing sequences including Tiger Woods, Annika Sorenstam and Vijay Singh
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