At 66 kilo­grams, this kid’s top 20 in dis­tance

Golf Digest (South Africa) - - News - roger schiff­man

How does a thin kid drive the ball so far?

Justin Thomas was a rookie on the 2015 PGA Tour, but he sure seems like he has been around, partly be­cause of his golf pedi­gree. His grand­fa­ther, Paul, played in the US Open and US Se­nior Open, and his fa­ther, Mike, is the pro at Har­mony Land­ing Coun­try Club in Goshen, Ken­tucky.That’s where Justin learned to play, mostly by hang­ing out with the mem­bers from when he was 3.

“I taught Justin a lot less than I taught other stu­dents,” Mike Thomas says. “I’d tell him, ‘I can give you five min­utes, but then I might need to go teach Mr. So-and-So.’ ”As a re­sult, Justin fig­ured out a lot on his own.

At age 7, he watched Tiger Woods win the 2000 PGA at Val­halla Golf Club in nearby Louisville.That made a huge im­pres­sion, and could be where he learned his in­cred­i­ble hip speed through the ball.“You can’t teach that,” his fa­ther says.“I’ve been more like a coach with him than a teacher.”

Justin played two years at Alabama, where in 2012 he was voted America’s top col­le­giate golfer. Now he’s hit­ting it with the long­est driv­ers on tour, av­er­ag­ing 303 yards (15th). “I got lucky and had an easy stu­dent,” Mike Thomas says. –


“I al­ways tell my stu­dents that good play­ers look like they’re go­ing to hit a great shot at setup,” says Justin Thomas’ fa­ther and teacher, Mike. He notes that Justin looks ath­letic, his legs flexed and arms ex­tended. Half­way back, his lower body has hardly moved, but his hands and the club­head are well away from his body.


As Justin’s left arm reaches par­al­lel to the ground and his shoul­der turns un­der his chin, his legs are ex­actly where they were at ad­dress. “This is the sign of a sta­ble lower body and the creation of torque,” Mike Thomas says. “Also no­tice his head tilts to the right – that’s just part of the per­son­al­ity of his swing.”


Although Justin’s hips don’t turn much, his shoul­ders ro­tate a full 90 de­grees. “That re­sis­tance of the up­per body against the lower is a huge power gen­er­a­tor,” his fa­ther says. Justin’s left knee at the top has not changed much from ad­dress. “The golf swing is from the waist up, and the lower body sup­ports that.”


Start­ing down, see how Justin’s right heel comes up and out? “It’s another part of the per­son­al­ity of his swing,” his fa­ther says. “We worked on keep­ing it down, and he couldn’t hit the ball at all. So we for­got about that.” Thomas also notes that Justin’s hips have turned much more than his shoul­ders through im­pact.


Even Justin’s

front foot comes off the ground, sim­i­lar to other bombers like JB Holmes and Bubba Wat­son. “Some­thing’s got to give when the club’s com­ing in at 190 kilo­me­tres an hour,” his fa­ther says. “He keeps his spine an­gle and head po­si­tion. And you can draw a line from the club­head up the shaft to his left shoul­der.”


“His po­si­tion past im­pact shows ex­ten­sion and speed,” Mike Thomas says. He notes that the fin­ish is only a re­sult of what hap­pened be­fore: “The ball is gone, so the fin­ish doesn’t in­flu­ence any­thing,” he says. “But bal­ance is an in­di­ca­tor of a good swing. As in the setup, Justin looks ath­letic, like he just hit a great shot.”


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