It isn’t despite the high, looping back swing, either. That is a component of the path John takes his arms and hands on in the back swing and up to the top, but his past-parallel top position doesn’t affect the mechanical soundness of John’s swing whatsoever. It actually demonstrates it.
If you’ve ever wondered how a fat, out of shape guy built like John Daly could fall out of bed and still out-drive just just about every guy on the Tour, at 45 years of age, no less, then you have to pay attention to what John is actually doing in his swing.
First, he posts wonderfully on his right side, and he gets to an amazing “fully cranked” position at the top. But on the down swing, you start to see the beauty of John’s action, starting with the weight shift to the left, the rotation of the shoulders to power the swing, and the strong hip shift and pivot.
That impact position in Frame 5 is absolutely sublime. Watch how beautifully JD’s left shoulder works up and back from Frames 3-6, the shoulders are behaving just as a wheel that you turn from right to left.
John uses leverage to power his swing (well, it couldn’t really be muscle power now, could it?), by connecting his right side to the swing starting with his forward press.
Once at the top, he’s as levered as he can get with the left side-shoulder-arm all taut, and once he starts his weight shift and shoulder rotation, the rotating shoulders power the left arm, taking the club along with it.
Pivoting into impact, JD is pushing hard with the right hand and arm from half-way down and all the way through impact, with the trombone action that Mike Austin describes.
Below, I’ll try to explain in my own words what I see when JD swings the club:
Watching JD swing, just imagine that his left arm and the club shaft are a lever and pendulum arm attached to a rotating wheel (the shoulders, with the axle or pivot point at the base of the neck or 7th cervical vertebra).
At the top of the back swing, imagine that JD’s right arm is a piston that will help the turning wheel turn faster, and that is exactly what a leveraged swing looks like.
JD’s pivot and weight shift rotate the wheel (or shoulders) around the axle (pivot point) beautifully, and the attached lever (the left arm) is swung from the top and down to the ball using nothing more than leverage (the pivoting body) and gravity (the club goes from high to the low point of the swing at impact) and the piston (the extending right arm) adds even more power and speed.
The thing you have to get used to when watching JD’s swing is his left arm plane and his wrist hinge on the back swing. By having such a high lift with left arm, and with the exaggerated wrist-cock, JD gets a much longer swing and larger swing arc than all but some of the long drivers who use this same action.
This is a technique that requires no lifting weights in the gym (obviously, as shown by Mr. Daly), or great physical endurance or strength. All it takes is to be able to establish the correct address position fundamentals (the Fundamentals Trifecta again!) and to know how this leverage principle works using one’s own body.
JD swings that club, rotating effectively around his pivot point and using his whole upper body and shoulders to motor that swing, like a judo throw.
But the action that Mike Austin used, that I use in MCS, is nothing really different from JD himself, once you take out the high left arm angle and over-cock with the wrists. JD would look no different from MA or myself.
However looking at John Daly’s swing this week, it seemed that the clouds parted and I could see exactly what he was doing. And all I could think was, “There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that swing.”
In fact, it’s an awesome swing, and one that can be performed, provided one knows how to do it.