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Swing Analysis: Tom Kite

One of my favorite players growing up was Tom Kite, partly because we had about the same build and partly because he was the consummate grinder, winning with a combination of consistent (not overpowering) ball striking and a great short game. He still hits the ball great (I played a practice round with him last year at the Senior PGA) but has had some issues with putting (he finally has gone to the long putter), which is doubly weird since he was one of the best putters on Tour for most of his career.
 
As I mentioned, Tom is not a big guy (listed at 5’9” 170 lbs.) and has chosen to use lower body restriction and upper body coil to create power in his swing. I look at this as an example of the “modern” swing, which would be pretty much anything after Leadbetter came to prominence in the early 80’s, where the left leg movement and overall hip turn in the backswing were greatly reduced relative to all the players who played prior to that time. Kite is a super hard worker and has spent lots of time in the gym getting stronger and trying to add to his range of motion, and you can see the benefits of this work in the amount of coil he gets in his upper body relative to his lower. Another characteristic of Kite’s swing is the straightness of his legs, both at address and throughout the swing, although recently it would appear that he is making an effort to use the ground more efficiently to create energy in the swing. With his legs fairly straight and his hips pretty much static in the backswing Kite doesn’t create nearly the bent over spine angle that you see in today’s best players, although he has exemplary control of the shaft and doesn’t get himself “stuck” in the forward swing. Another oddity in his move is the small amount of lateral movement he employs, about as little (an inch or two) as any great player you will find. Again, it is his wonderful use of his hands and wrists that allow him to lag the club and to get his hands forward of the ball at impact without the usual lateral movement that helps most players achieve that compressed impact.
 

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3 Responses to Swing Analysis: Tom Kite

  1. Mark Osborn October 19, 2013 at 10:52 am #

    Do you think the collaboration with Pelz (straight back, straight through) may have been a reason for his new putting woes? He was one of the best putters to play the game at one point. He did have eye surgery, maybe it was that?

  2. Clint October 19, 2013 at 11:56 pm #

    Kite is another one of the guys who addresses the ball slightly toward the heel of the clubface, similar to zoeller and singh. It makes sense to me why a fader like singh would prefer this position, as it promotes the feel of hitting a heel cut with just a tad of cut across action ( i say feel, because singh doesnt actually swing out to in, of course). But for drawers of the ball like kite, i never undertood the preference of a heel setup.

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