Welcome to Play Smart, a game improvement column published every Monday, Wednesday and Friday by Game Improvement Editor Luke Kerr-Dineen (who you can follow on Twitter here).
At the Masters earlier this year, half-joking, half-jealous Jon Rahm spoke about the advice he received from his idol Tiger Woods over the years.
Or rather its absence.
“You might have to ask Justin Thomas,” Rahm said. “There’s only one man in this business who hears Tiger’s advice, because I’ve asked before and get nothing.”
A week before the 150th Open Championship in St. Andrews, conversation is fluid between the two, but Tiger still keeps his cards close to his chest.
Rahm, on the other hand, puts it all on the table, as seen here at the JP McManus Pro-Am. (Perhaps hoping he gets something back one day?) You can see a bit of the exchange below, and for the army of golf nerds, it’s heaven. Let’s break it down.
Rahm shares his swing thinking
The first thing we see is Rahm demonstrating the feel of his wrist at impact. Rahm has a weaker than average left hand grip, then uses a lot of flexibility in his primary wrist to both adjust the clubface and add power to his golf swing.
“Are you still hitting [the ball] with your driver? Like Dustin? asks Tiger.
Tiger asks this because flexing your primary wrist like Rahm or Dustin Johnson, who uses his primary wrist the same way Rahm does, can often tilt the shaft forward and cause golfers to hit the ball, creating too much difficulty. ‘effects.
Hitting the ball with your driver helps reduce spin (and therefore increase distance), which is why Tiger asks. That’s when Rahm explained the swing key that allows him to do both.
“When you turn your chest, that’s what makes [the club] go up,” he said.
Rahm goes on to say that when he swings his best, he hits about 1.5 degrees up on his driver, “three degrees when I’m trying to hit the ball higher.”
That’s when Tiger asks Rahm what he needs to adjust. Specifically, when he needs to hit a high shot from right to left.
Ball in position to hit a draw
“You put it here?” Tiger asks, demonstrating a ball position that is higher in your stance. It’s actually something Tiger told Golf Digest he does himself when trying to hit a high draw. Rahm agrees, then explains.
“I find it difficult to handle [the clubface]Rahm says. “Although it doesn’t go as high as Rory’s [drive]it always comes in at four or five degrees of launch.
Tiger asked about the spin, apparently worried that the fit would take too much spin on the golf ball, which can cause a whole host of separate issues. Rahm said it was still at “22,” referring to 2,200 rpm, which is still the optimal range.
“Are you really?” Tiger asked, in a tone that suggested he was both impressed and surprised.
“Yeah, because I just let the path dictate where the clubface is pointing,” Rahm explains.
The camera pans to Tiger, who looks deep in thought before responding.
“Yes because [the clubface] closes in on you a bit,” Tiger says.
This, by the way, is good knowledge for the rest of us golfers. No matter how you swing a club, the clubhead moves like a windshield wiper upon impact. Slightly open, to square, to slightly closed. Moving the ball slightly up in your stance means that the clubface will be slightly closed as it hits the ball.
“Exactly,” Rahm said. “It’s just the loft and the face that make me draw a draw.”
At that point, Rahm was whisked away for his tee time. All good things come to an end, I guess. But we’re going to be chewing on this one for a while.