Icelandic Fitness

golf fitness

Bryson DeChambeau: Simple Swing, Not so Simple Results

 

Bryson DeChambeau completely changed the way I look at the golf swing.  Growing up watching the swing of Tiger Woods I thought the new athletic swing was the way.  Loading up the swing with a squat and creating massive amounts of power and rotation from the lower-body was emulated by all young golfers.  I was wrong, after watching a young new golfer from sunny California.

 

He wears a throwback Ben Hogan cap, has a fascination with a cult golfing instruction book and majors in physics at Southern Methodist University. Bryson DeChambeau sounds a little quirky, but he’s achieved one of the more rare feats in golf – winning the NCAA and U.S. Amateur titles in the same year. His swing and his clubs may get the credit for getting him there.

 

The swing came about through his coach, Mike Schy, who gave DeChambeau a book called “The Golfing Machine” when he was 15.  The book was written in 1969 by Homer Kelley, a Seattle aircraft mechanic obsessed with the engineering specs of the golf swing. To a physics major, the book spoke DeChambeau’s language and it’s how be built his efficient, steady swing.

 

To break it down: when addressing the ball, DeChambeau has his arms extended and his hands up. The right elbow rises as his club goes back and with his grip, the club mostly rides in his palms, not his fingers. There is very little wrist hinge. And the swing is something he can reproduce again and again.

 

It took a couple of years, with guidance from Schy to come up with the single-plane swing. In the book, it’s called a ‘zero shifting motion.’ Basically, De Chambeau swings his hands and his club on one plane throughout the whole swing, no shifting up or down.

 

While that method keeps his swing consistent, the problem in the beginning was that golf clubs typically vary in length. The solution – a bagful of oversize clubs with each iron and wedge having the same 37 1/2 inch shaft length – about the length of a standard 7-iron. The rationale was to have a similar posture over the ball regardless of what club was in his hand.

 

Single-length shafts and a more simplified swing, have given DeChambeau’s game more repeatable and consistent center face impacts. He simply hits the sweet spot more often, producing better ball speed and accuracy.

 

On the putting green, he uses a method called Vector Putting, which takes into account length of putt, percentage of slope and speed of the green. DeChambeau plays with a torque-balanced putter that keeps his stroke square to the plane. All of the clubs have uniquely weighted heads throughout the set (heavier longer irons, for instance), enabling DeChambeau to create a similar striking force at impact.

 

The 21-year-old will most likely be taking his unique style to the PGA, turning pro next summer.

 

Check out this Youtube video to see DeCambeau’s swing:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QpuJhMF0ovU

Rory McIlroy, taking the proper rest

The Masters gets under way this week on April 9th and the world’s number one player is taking some time away from competition. Rory McIlroy will have been “off” nearly three weeks before he hits his first drive at Augusta. Like other top tier athletes, McIlroy knows that tapering before a big competition helps reset the body and the mind and puts you in a position to excel.

 

Marathon runners have used tapering for years to give their bodies a chance to rest before pushing themselves during the big race. The idea behind tapering is that coming into an event well rested allows you to maximize the strength and fitness gains you’ve made over the previous weeks or months of training.

 

Of course, McIlroy has not been sitting around. He’s been practicing at Augusta with his dad and New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, having fun on the course, getting used to the lay of the land, taking nothing seriously. It’s a mental and physical rest.

Rory and Tom Brady a few weeks ago at Augusta National

Rory and Tom Brady a few weeks ago at Augusta National

 

For some athletes, however, tapering can be difficult, because the decrease in training leaves them feeling antsy and, in some cases, sluggish. There’s a fear of losing your edge, causing some serious pre-competition anxiety.

 

Like McIlroy, keeping your mind and body “in the game” is the key. While he’s tapering, he’s still playing golf. Just not at the same intense level that he’ll undoubtedly be playing during competition. Tapering is the time to refine technique, no matter your sport, and get a good feel for your desired competition pace.

 

Of course, taper length varies from person to person, and depends on the athlete’s preferences and the length of the event. For runners, a taper for a half-marathon might last a week, while a taper for a triathlon might be four times as long. The Masters is kind of a golf marathon, with play stretching out over 72 holes, that’s four complete rounds over four days.

 

For most folks, truly perfecting a taper plan requires a degree of trial and error. If the taper period is too short, you didn’t get enough rest. Too long, you run the risk of losing not only your mental edge, but also your physical conditioning.

 

So, most trainers and coaches suggest that you maintain a consistent number of training days per week. If you usually work out five days a week, continue that during the taper, but reduce volume by cutting training time (or distance) in each workout.

 

Look at it this way- pushing yourself each and every workout, with no rest, is like running a car engine 24/7. It’s only a matter of time before it (and you) break down. Do yourself a favor and build some taper time into your workout schedule.

 

Jason Stone

Icelandic Fitness