How Danny Willett matched his swing to his physical capabilities
Mon Apr 11, 2016 by TPI
One of the core principles of the TPI philosophy is that there isn't one perfect swing, but a perfect swing to match your physical capabilities. Every athlete has physical limitations. In golf, we can either address the limitations with corrective exercise or we can build a swing around those limitations. Either way, we must start with knowing what the limitations are through screening the athlete.
In a piece with Today's Golfer, 2016 Masters champion Danny Willett revealed how his improved play began with working on his body.
"I attribute [my improved consistency] to a better understanding of my swing, and my body. I have a long-term injury that restricts my hip rotation. Physical issues like this often lead to damaging compensations. They certainly have done in my case, and in this article I’ll explain how I’ve overcome them. Almost every golfer has some physical issue they have to deal with, and understanding how it affects your motion is the first step to developing a technique that works around it."
Here's Danny describing some of the modifications he's had to make in his swing:
Additionally, an analysis by instructor Mark Wood for World's Best Golf Destinations notes how Willett compensates for his limited hip rotation with a huge shoulder turn and wrist hinge.
Danny threw the javelin as a young athlete which helped develop his ability to generate power from the ground up and improved the timing of his release (another golfer who harnessed a javelin background to achieve power in the golf swing was Long Drive champ Carl Wolter, featured in our "Keys to Long Drive Power" on the Golf Channel).
Just because he has a restriction in his hip doesn't mean that Willett isn't intent on improving his body when possible. Willett exercises almost daily, frequently posting pictures from the gym on social media and appearing in videos from the European Tour Performance Institute.
One of Willett's first activities upon arriving in Augusta, GA was to get a quick warm-up in.
In a press conference at the 2015 Open Championship, Willett credited the strict regimen of college golf with helping him develop the discipline he needed to be successful on Tour.
"When Willett was 17, he came to the United States to play golf at Jacksonville (Alabama) State where he was named the Ohio Valley Conference's top freshman in 2006 and was medalist at the league tournament the following year. "It teaches you a lot of things, America," Willett said. "I think a few guys hate it because they've got moms and dads there getting them up in the morning, making them this, doing them that. I've been brought up a little bit different to that. It was a fantastic experience. ... You have to discipline yourself, you are in the gym six times week, you're training, practicing, getting ready for the tournaments which are pretty stressful I'd say in college golf. It's five, six-man teams, every score to count in the NCAAs and stuff. It's a good standard of golf.”
Willett also works with TPI Advisory Board Member Paul Hurrion on putting.
Danny is standing on a product from Quintic Sports that helps him evaluate his balance and weight distribution throughout the stroke. Just like the full swing, Danny's putting stroke relies on important physical capabilities.
Here's a shot of Danny practicing a Gate Drill at the Dubai Desert Classic in February.
"Gate Drill" variations are extremely popular on Tour. They help validate your alignment and read. Here are a few versions of the "Gate Drill" from our site.