This one swing move will be the key for Rory McIlroy at the Ryder Cup

September 26, 2018

If you’re a golf nerd with no life, like me, you may have noticed an interesting little change in Rory McIlroy’s pre-shot routine at the Tour Championship.

As Rory sets up over the ball, a few seconds before he swings, you can notice him simulate the first few feet of his backswing. Look for it at the Ryder Cup this week.

It’s not a waggle, it’s a backswing drill to help ingrain a one-piece takeaway.  The move is designed to make sure everything is moving together, on-line, to start the backswing — the arms, hands and club are moving in “once piece,” hence the name.

It’s a really important part of McIlroy’s swing, and something he thinks about a lot. Here’s what he told GOLF.com about it back in 2014:

The first two feet of my swing are critical. If I start the club back on plane, I won’t have to reroute it on the way down, so I can just rip it without fearing a mis-hit. Granted, my takeaway isn’t perfect. I occasionally yank the club too far inside [then come over the top in the downswing], or “lift” it up and out [which gets me “trapped” coming down]. But I can fix those flaws.

Rory has been struggling with his accuracy off the tee all season — he ranks 165th in Driving Accuracy — and it’s because some of those flaws have began sneaking back into his swing.

Below are two pictures of Rory from the fifth hole on Sunday at the Tour Championship.

On the left is Rory practicing his one-piece takeaway; the clubhead is outside his hands and moving down the line.

On the right is Rory’s takeaway when he actually swung; his arms are further away from his body, and the club is tracking inside his hands.

Rory snap-hooked (he hit just three fairways all day, which was ultimately his undoing), because he did as he described above: He started the club too inside on his backswing, which led to him getting “trapped” on the downswing. When that happens, this miss is either a block right, or when he tries to time it with his hands, a big hook left.

Here’s Rory’s 2018 swing compared with his 2014 swing, the year he won two majors. As you can see, in 2014, the clubhead is moving more outside his hands.

In fact, the move Rory practices on his takeaway drill mirrors his 2014 swing. His arms are closer to his body, and the clubhead is moving outside his hands. 

Your Takeaway: Practice your one-piece takeaway by feeling as though your hands and arms are pushing the club away to start your backswing. You can even try incorporating it into your pre-shot routine, like Rory. You’ll see him doing it this week at the Ryder Cup, so why not put it in play at your own course?