Swing Analysis: Hideki Matsuyama

By Wayne | Videos: Swing Analysis

It tickles me to hear the TV announcers gush about Matsuyama’s “great tempo”. The young Japanese star, winner of the Memorial Tournament, is about as unconventional when it comes to rhythm and tempo as you will ever see. Matsuyama’s rhythm is 5:1, which in a world where the vast majority of players use a 3:1 rhythm is like slow motion in the backswing. Not only that, Matsuyama has no “catch” at the top of his swing, preferring to come to almost a complete stop before driving with the hips. It’s not surprising that he is regarded as having great tempo because amongst the masses of golf watchers most consider “slow” to be “good” when it comes to swinging a golf club. If you watch the LPGA you see a ton of swings like Matsuyama’s. I have always thought that since the courses are so short and distance is not such a factor, many women, especially the Asians, have come to prefer a very deliberate, controlled, some might say “mechanical” backswing, and then are able to produce between 230-240 yards of carry with the driver, which on the women’s tour is enough to play any of the courses they compete on. Men don’t usually swing that way because it is not an efficient way to produce power. Matsuyama is an exception to that rule, and he produces plenty of power even while stopping at the top. His secret is to keep a constant movement in the lower body, loading downward even as the club is stopping at the top, then thrusting forward and left to catch the left arm and start the forward swing in good sequence. This is not a recommended technique, as it is incredibly hard to time that transition consistently. That said, Matsuyama’s positions are spot on, which makes sense, at least in the backswing, because it’s almost like a stop-and-go drill. You’d like to think that you could make a decent swing if you give yourself time to go back as slow as you want and then stop at the top. Matsuyama does that and then knocks the crap out of it. I find it annoying that announcers who pummel certain players for being too “mechanical” don’t comment negatively on Matsuyama’s swing. What could be more “mechanical” than what he’s doing?

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(2) comments

Steve June 11, 2014

Are the Asian ladies who swing so ultra slow missing that compression at transition that Matsuyama evidences, and that all the TV pundits clearly missed? If they are does this lack explain their limited distance off the tee? I also notice more compression on iron shots from aggressive swingers like Wie and Lewis who definitely appear to use the ground and apply forward shaft lean.

I wonder if Wie in particular has tuned in to some of your stuff. I see real differences that I think account for her much improved play this year,

Clinton June 26, 2014

I think TV announcers like the ultra-slow tempo because they can more easily see what’s going on with the naked eye. They seem to forget (or are averse to) using slow motion video as a useful tool for breaking down the swing. The more dynamic the transition, the more the change of direction can be exploited to hinge the right wrist and flatten the shaft (both of which are preferred movements as described countless time on this site). So being dynamic in transition doesn’t complicate things; it actually simplifies things, by creating a nice cause-and-effect between the lower body and the wrist/shaft relationship.

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