Saturday, March 13, 2010

Analyzing David Duval's Swing

One thing I’ve always been curious about is what caused David Duval’s swing to go awry.

Obviously, injuries and vertigo played a factor. I had a friend who had vertigo and it really knocked him for a loop for almost 2 years. I don’t think that can go understated.

But still, it’s been years since that has happened and like Lag Erickson likes to say ‘impact is objective.’

Many golfers don’t realize just how great Duval once was. He was the guy that could’ve given Tiger a real run for his money because he basically did everything just as well as Tiger. He could hit it long, he could hit it accurately, he was a good iron player and at the time…many thought he was a better putter than Tiger was. Duval’s putting was really good at the time.

Here’s a look at Duval’s swing back in 1999.

When I look at this swing and have become a bit better versed in Lag Erickson’s Advanced Ball Striking swing philosophy, Duval’s swing fits very well with what ABS is about. It pretty much hits all of the major characteristics…probably better than any other PGA Tour pro today.

Now, let’s take a look at his current swing.

There’s not a lot of difference going on here. I think Clampett brings up a good point, but probably not the point you are thinking.

Before I get into that, let’s look at Duval’s ballstriking stats over the years:


1997 – 11th
1998 – 2nd
1999 – 1st
2000 – 2nd
2001 – 46th
2002 – 85th
2006 – 145th
2008 – 191st
2009 – 163

What’s interesting here is that his power dipped a bit in this time. But the total driving stats are mostly due to his very inaccurate driving of the golf ball. I would imagine that has played a bit of a role in his driving distance as he may take some off his swing in order to keep the ball in play.

Here’s a look at his GIR stats:


1997 – 24
1998 – 5
1999 – 1
2000 – 9
2001 – 41
2002 – 100
2006 – 187
2008 – 197
2009 – 184

One thing Clampett said that really struck a chord with me was that Duval used to never miss left after he hit that first shot out of bounds left.

However, his swing looks pretty much the same as it did back in 1999. So what is the big difference that I see?

The clubface.

Duval has always had a closed face at the top of the swing, but the face is now more shut…particularly in the takeaway and in the downswing.

1999 SWING

2009 SWING

In the 2009 swing, the bottom pic where he is at P5 we can see a lot more clubface than we could in 1999.

This is something I went over in my very first lesson with Ted Fort ( Like Duval, I had a very shut clubface in the backswing. To get that clubface back to square at impact, I would need to open it up to square. But the issue was that it would almost make a vertical hinge motion in order to do so, a hinge action not prescribed for full swings.

And if I didn’t open the clubface enough on the downswing, I would have a closed face and miss left. If I overdid it, then I would have an open face and could miss right. All in all, I had to rely too much on my hands and not enough on my pivot.

Duval still has a world class pivot action IMO, but since he has that clubface so closed, he still needs to use his hands and coordination to square up the face. I think the big problem is Duval knew too little about the golf swing when he started to struggle and then went to instructors that didn’t help him any. Then he tried to go back to his ‘old way’ of swinging and went back to his old strong grip, but didn’t realize that his shut clubface is now much more shut than it was in the past and has yet to fully correct it.

I think the swing is pretty much there to return Duval back to his former glory. But his clubface is the key monkey wrench in his machine. Get that straightened out and it will still probably take some time to regain his confidence, but eventually he’ll get it.



Anonymous said...

Great piece.
What's Duval's pattern? It looks like he's pretty S&T on the backswing, downswing look kind of Hogan-esq (elbow and hip attached, strong slide).

My un-tutored eye would guess Duval prefers a soft draw.

Rich H. said...

Duval's swing is very close to what Lag Erickson teaches in ABS. It's certainly not S&T...not even close. IIRC, he used to hit a power fade. Now he's losing shots left, so I think he's hitting hooks and pulls.

If I was an instructor, I would die to get my hands on Duval. Just explain him simply the new ball flight laws and tell him that it's okay to have a closed face, but he's overdoing it. Simple Fix and I think the rest of his swing is back to his old ways.

I heard he used to work with Hank Haney when he struggled. I'm sure Haney messed with his grip. I wonder if Duval is gripping it like he used to. I think it would take some time to get his confidence back, if he ever fully gets it back. But I think he can improve enough to keep his card and the potential is phenomenal. He still hits it a long ways. Just a simple tweaking of the clubface and he's good to go.


Anonymous said...

"It's certainly not S&T...not even close."

Interesting... I'm surprised you say that. The backswing seems absolutely S&T: stacked over the ball, absolutely no sway, one plane swing, spine tilting towards target as head stays in place.

Anonymous said...

"It's certainly not S&T...not even close."
-I agree.
.."it's okay to have a closed face, but he's overdoing it."
-Agree again.

IMO with that closed clubface DD would need extremely strong punch elbow and something like 180 degrees open pelvis angle coming into impact. As the commentator said, DD was swinging out and the right elbow lost early its contact with his pivot.
Clearly at least here he seems to have developed a tendency of using power across the shaft instead of pulling along it, which would calm down his swing back towards Hogan-like pivoting action as it was back then (with the differences caused by the grip and shut clubface)

Anonymous said...

Face is not the issue. Left arm is much more inside the toe line at p5 than it used to be. Super strong grip and that position at p5 is causing him to extend his pelvis earlier to try and slow the rate of closure and not miss it left.

Unknown said...

I have almost the exact same grip and body action that Duval does and I found this article after figuring out that opening the clubface more on the way back was the key for me to play great golf without having to make compensations. It feels good to have this confirmed by someone like yourself that knows a lot about the golf swing. Much appreciated.