Swing Analysis: Joe Durant

By Wayne | Videos: Swing Analysis

Joe is year in and year out is statistically one of the best, if not the best, ball strikers on any tour. That being the case, we can easily surmise that his putting is not up to Tour standards, and the rest of his short game may be suspect as well, although pitching, chipping, bunker and wedge play can also be undone by poor putting. Here we focus on what Joe is best at, swinging the club, and we find a number of things that stand out, starting with his weak grip. The one to one –and- a -half knuckle grip allows (causes?) Joe to begin bowing the left wrist almost from the beginning of the swing, and it is pronouncedly so at the top of the swing. Usually this wrist position would produce a closed clubface at the top, but the weak grip combines with the wrist position to produce a neutral face. The transition move is Hoganesque in the amount that the hands move outward above the ball while the shaft helicopters back into an extremely flat position at left arm parallel. Joe’s right elbow is somewhat pinched in the backswing as well, but he drives it inward even more in transition, causing the kick back in the shaft. From the flattened shaft position he steepens the club the rest of the downswing, returning to the original shaft plane on the approach and into impact as well as anyone, another example of why this is a worthy goal (though not absolutely necessary) for any player.
If I have an overriding philosophy on what I think the swing is most comparable to athletically it would be, as Hogan painstakingly illustrated in The Five Lessons, the action of the low sidearm throwing motion. Durant is the poster child for this action, and he is quite close to the “look at the target at impact” head turning demonstrated by David Duval, Annika Sorenstam, and Robert Allenby. I also love Durant’s swing rhythm and tempo, which times out at 23/7 or thereabouts, and has the “catchy” transition that I like as well. If Durant had a stronger grip and a cupped wrist at the top I would say that he would almost have the model swing, but then again, great players almost always have something that sets them apart and makes their swings unique. Give him a different grip and he may never have put things together as he obviously has. Would I change anything? Only if he found that he couldn’t hit the ball anymore and was at the bottom of the barrel. Swings evolve around the clubface, which means that the grip is probably the most important item in any swing.

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(5) comments

michael gwiazdon May 31, 2013

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Clinton May 31, 2013

Great flattening in transition. Interesting to me that he’s able to get away with losing some depth in the hips, letting the legs peak outside the box toward the ball (down the line view) and appears to maybe even lose just a bit of spine angle on the way down. He does all that yet doesn’t get stuck. Instead, he’s right on the shaft plane at impact. If he didn’t helicopter it in transition perhaps he couldn’t get away with this other stuff. Also, right foot has a unique hop forward move in the follow through. Doesn’t look like his leg drive is overly strong to be causing this. Maybe this is a habit or tic that isn’t really caused by anything.

    steve strobeck June 1, 2013

    Very nice. A somewhat forgotten figure amid the hoopla surrounding current stars, but underservingly so because of his always great ball striking. A quiet but consummate performer and your analysis identifies the factors in his tee to green success.

    A swing I hope is in the pipeline is that of Rocco Mediate, who with his unconventional looking action honed by Jimmy Ballard, is reasserting himself on the Champions Tour. Rocco was encumbered by chronic back problems in his later years on the regular tour but seems now to be in good physical shape and ready to rock on. His ball striking at the Ace Group Classic in Naples last February was impressive.

      Phil June 3, 2013

      rocco has always been a good ball striker. he won 5 times on tour before he met jimmy. During that time he was “working with” Rick Smith. It would be much more interesting to compare Rocco’s swing in the early nineties and now and seeing how much actual difference there is.. i would imagine there not being as much difference as one would think. Did Butch Harmon help Fred couples?

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