AUGUSTA, Ga. — Early during Masters week, Rory McIlroy summed up his recent visit to the iconic teacher Butch Harmon with one light-hearted quip.

“I always joke that if you spend four hours with Butch, and you go away with two swing tips and 30 stories,” he said.

That’s ultimately what Butch Harmon, who late last year Golf Digest named the best golf teacher of all time, does. Because that’s what good coaching is. Ironing out the technique, but in a way that doesn’t feel tedious. Providing a second set of eyes, as McIlroy says, but with a few tablespoons of feel-good vibes for good measure.

We got a taste of that ourselves during Harmon’s recent appearance on Sky Sports, where Harmon talked through some of the technical tweaks he helped Rory make ahead of the 2024 Masters.

“If you’ve got three or four swing thoughts, you’ve got no chance,” he says. “We’re trying to find one thought that helps with all the other things.”

1. Right arm more up, less deep

McIlroy loves hitting draws, which can often lead to him swinging his arms too much around him. When that happens, Rory starts throwing the club too far out to the right, and can begin missing in both directions—which is what he’s been struggling with recently.

It’s why you’ll notice McIlroy using a new waggle this week, to help him feel the club moving more up towards the sky.

“I had him go to a halfway back position and then go up from there,” Harmon says. “The right arm got in the right position, then he could deliver the club back to impact the way we want to, and he could sequence up the unwind of his body, and the release of the club the way he wanted to.”

2. Chop off the long follow through on wedge shots

Rory’s golf swing is long and beautiful, Butch says. His best quality, which allows hit o be an elite driver in the ball. But golf being the cruel game that it is, often a player’s greatest stretch and can can also cause its greatest weakness.

Harmon said McIlroy’s “beautiful golf swing was built for drivers,” but with wedges, it was sending the unpredictably high into the air, causing him to miss the greens. So with shorter wedge shots, he suggests McIlroy—and other plays—make a shorter, punch shot-style follow through.

“We need to bring down that ball flight, and to do that we need to chop off that follow through,” Harmon said. “If you notice now when you watch him, you’ll see him making a three-quarter follow through instead of that long follow through.”

Ben Walton

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