The winner of last month’s Tour event at Innisbrook, Senden has been one of the Tour’s best ball strikers since he got his card in 2001. Surprisingly he had only one win prior to his most recent, so it’s not hard to guess that he is not one of the best putters out there. Ironically it was his putting and short game that drove him to victory in Florida, capped off by a wonderful pitch-in on the 17th hole. Last year was his worst as far as ball striking goes in almost a decade, but he managed to hold on to his card by improving his overall short game. If he hits it like he’s proven he’s capable of and continues to upgrade his pitching and putting we might see a career that takes off in his 40’smuch like Vijay Singh.
Senden’s swing is quite interesting and reminds me somewhat of an older Jack Nicklaus, with a relatively short overall arm swing and a hard catch of the clubhead with an early start to the downswing with the lower body. It’s a whippy sort of look but not rushed at all, and the effect is one of smooth, effortless power. He is big fellow at 6’3” and 193 lbs., and averages about 290 off the tee. As I mentioned, he has been a perennial top 5 ball striker on the Tour up until last year, and has utilized a swing that is about as vertical as you will see among great strikers. He sets up fairly bent over with a lot of knee flex, and his takeaway is well out away from his body, so much so that his progression is 16 and 1, something you don’t often see (referring to the difference in the plane angles from the shaft at address and the shaft at left arm parallel and then to the top). As I mentioned he “catches” the club at the top and stresses the shaft with the hands dropping down vertically, which is to be expected considering how far in front of himself his arms are at the top. From there he has perfect wrist control, keeping his left wrist cupped well into the downswing, which helps keep the shaft in between his arms. His hands are forward enough into impact to keep the club coming from the inside, and his hips are nicely in the box all the way past impact. It is not a swing that demonstrates a majority of the things I would prefer to see, but it is a technique that has kept him out there for 13+ years, and he obviously has the talent level to square the club consistently with the combination of all these elements. I really like his tempo and rhythm, which reminds me of my own swing back when I was playing my best golf.