Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Ochoa2_300 As a loyal Minnesotan, I went to the U.S. Women’s Open at the Interlachen Country Club outside Minneapolis during the Tuesday practice rounds. You can't skip a major championship when it happens in your home state.  Plus, Interlachen is an important course in the game's history –- it’s where Bobby Jones finished the third leg of his Grand Slam in 1930.
It was a great tournament, the course was in pristine condition, and a great opportunity for me to see the swings of the top women golfers up close, and of course I took particular notice of the swing of the world's No. 1 women golfer, Lorena Ochoa.
There's no question that Ochoa is a great player and a solid ball-striker. The average golfer would do well to copy the fundamentals of her powerful swing with one major exception -- the position of her eyes and the angle of her head throughout the downswing and at impact.
When Ochoa begins the downswing she cocks her head and her eyes to the right. As a teacher, I have seen this move before in less accomplished golfers who are attempting to swing more from the inside on the downswing.  This move gives them some level of comfort, changing their perspective of the target line.   
While these players may succeed in swinging more "inside-out" there are some negative consequences:
1. The body is in balance only when the ears are level so when you cock your head, you lose balance.
2. When the head is cocked to the right the rear shoulder naturally drops and the front shoulder is elevated. The head is the heaviest part of the body, so when it is out of position it effects the balance and structure of the rest of the body.
3. In a target sport the eyes play a key role in where the propelled object is delivered. Ochoa’s eyes probably point 20 yards to the right of the target.
People who are very talented can do things that other people can't. In this regard, Lorena breaks all the rules – she’s a clear example of how sheer talent can overcome even the worst swing flaw. I can’t imagine anyone else doing what she does -- to be that much to the right and that far off balance -- and come through with the right structure and balance on her feet. She succeeds despite making these mistakes.
If you think you might have the same swing flaw -- a good indication is that your most common mis-hit is a weak flare to the right -- the brim of your cap can help you fix it. When you swing, try to keep the brim of your cap level with the horizon throughout the swing. If your brim stays level, that means your head stayed level.
But don't feel too bad if you have to work on this: you're obviously in excellent company!

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