Big Play: Oosthuizen's straight, powerful drives at St. Andrews

Big Play: Oosthuizen’s straight, powerful drives at St. Andrews

Louis Oosthuizen overpowered St. Andrews while finishing 16-under-par for the event.
Robert Beck/SI

WHO: Louis Oosthuizen
WHAT: A drive onto the green to set up an eagle
WHERE: 352-yard par-4 9th hole at St. Andrews
WHEN: Final round of the British Open

We’ll probably hear more from Oosthuizen. His swing is in the top 10 percent of all tour professionals. What stands out to me is that he has what teachers call “tight rotation” of his body. By that, I mean he has no sliding or extraneous swaying during the swing. His motion is just turn back, turn through.

The best drivers tend to have wider arcs through the hitting area. That means they have good extension and maintain it through impact, and they don’t use their hands to snap or whip the club. They use their body rotation as the engine of the swing. By doing that, the club is almost perfectly lined up at impact, so the shaft and left arm are almost perfectly aligned to form a straight line. If you’re totally extended with the left arm and the club at impact, you’re in great shape.

THE DRILL: To learn how to get your left arm and shaft into a straight line at impact, practice swinging while holding a driver with only your right arm. (You practice with the right arm, because it’s the right arm movement that makes the left arm straight at impact.) Put your left arm behind your back, choke down a little on the grip, and the swing should feel like you’re tossing a ball underhanded. In the backswing, bend your right arm as usual, and be sure in the downswing to let your body rotation move the club. Don’t just whip your right arm to the ball. At impact, the right arm will be almost straight.

Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher Jim Suttie teaches at Cog Hill Golf & Country Club in Lemont, Ill.

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