Golf Digest (South Africa) - - Front Page - BY BRIAN MANZELLA – with matthew rudy

Rickie fowler isn’t some phys­i­cal freak who can bench press 180 kilo­grams and run blis­ter­ingly fast. He’s 5-foot-9, 68 kilo­grams. But he pro­duces 188 kilo­me­tres per hour of club­head speed with his driver and can carry the ball 275 me­tres – and you don’t. Why is that? It isn’t some magic “it fac­tor” that only great ath­letes are born with. Thanks to some ad­vanced mo­tion-cap­ture tech­nol­ogy and biome­chan­i­cal re­search from a few very smart guys, we’re start­ing to get a much clearer pic­ture of how elite play­ers pro­duce power, and what you can do to get some more of it.

I vividly re­mem­ber go­ing to the New Or­leans PGA Tour event with my dad 40 years ago, and we’d watch Jack Nick­laus and Tom Wat­son hit balls on the range. My dad was a big guy and a great ath­lete, but he couldn’t pro­duce any­where near the same club­head speed. “Those guys are do­ing some­thing dif­fer­ent,” he’d say. They still are. To get that seem­ingly ef­fort­less power, tour play­ers aren’t just re­ly­ing on cen­trifu­gal force to sling the club through im­pact on a sin­gle plane. They’re ac­tively torquing – or twist­ing – the club in three spe­cific ways dur­ing the down­swing to help pro­duce those high speeds.

The con­cept comes from re­search by Dr Steven Nes­bit, a pro­fes­sor of me­chan­i­cal en­gi­neer­ing at Lafayette Col­lege and an ex­pert in mech­a­nism anal­y­sis and de­sign. He de­coded the pro swing and iden­ti­fied the torques at work.

Us­ing the Gears Golf sys­tem for track­ing body and club move­ment – the same tech­nol­ogy that pro­duced the 3-D swing images in this story – we’re able to pin­point the moves that cre­ate those torques and com­pare them from player to player.

To pro­duce peak re­peat­able speed in a swing, the player needs to use the three torques (or twist­ing mo­tions) in the cor­rect or­der and de­gree. In swing-geek short­hand, we call the torques Al­pha, Beta and Gamma, but it might help you to think of them as “Out,” “Over” and “Around,” be­cause that’s how each torque moves the club on the down­swing.

Th­ese twist­ing move­ments are what make a great swing take on its char­ac­ter­is­tic look. Al­pha torque changes the re­la­tion­ship be­tween the club and arms from an L shape at the top of the back­swing to more of an I shape near im­pact. Beta torque sets the club in the right po­si­tion in re­la­tion to the body dur­ing the down­swing. Gamma torque helps square the club­face. In short, to get from the top to im­pact pow­er­fully, the club has to move out, over and around – and the three torques make that hap­pen.

Re­lax – it isn’t as com­pli­cated as it might sound. The swing is­sues you have will dic­tate the torque (or torques) you need to im­prove. Start with the sim­ple drill that cor­re­sponds to the ap­pro­pri­ate torque for your is­sue, and you’ll be able to add speed to your swing and start con­sis­tently smash­ing the ball.

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