Joaquin Niemann is an athlete. He comes from athletic parents (field hockey for Mum, basketball for Dad). The genetic hand-me-downs of body awareness and balance – plus the co-ordination gained from playing soccer and athletics – are easy to spot in the way he swings the club, says Golf Digest Teaching Professional Jim McLean.
Niemann grew up in Chile near a golf course and says he played every day with the dream of becoming a tour pro, which happened in 2018 after he reached No.1 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking and won the Latin American Amateur. That victory earned him an invitation to the Masters and a handful of other PGA Tour events on sponsors’ exemptions, which he then parlayed into full-time status with four top-10 finishes.
Although he struggled at times last season, he started this season by winning the Military Tribute at The Greenbrier event in September, becoming the first golfer from Chile with a PGA Tour victory.
“I practised a lot with my coach this offseason,” Niemann says. “I feel confident. I feel fresh.”
“Niemann is the first person from Chile to win on the PGA Tour.”
poised for power
Joaquin Niemann has a wide stance and a strong left-hand grip, two adjustments that lead to big drives, says instructor Jim McLean: “And his hands and head are behind the ball. This is a setup that helps produce powerful drives because you can use your body weight to put more into the hit.”
a big wind-up
As he takes the club back, you can see how much his upper body has rotated by looking at his forearms – the right is above the left, McLean says. Though coiling is noticeable in his upper body, note how still and stable his lower body appears. This difference creates the potential for more distance.
keeping it closed
Niemann maintains a closed clubface as he completes his backswing. “It’s facing skyward at the top,” McLean says. “It’s a position that encourages lag, which puts more power into the hit.” It also eliminates the need to close the face on the way down, which can improve consistency.
Lower body leads
The distance between his hands and clubhead halfway down – the lag – is dramatic, McLean says. It’s a lot like the clubhead lag of another Spanish-speaking pro, Sergio Garcia. “His right arm is now under the left, his lower body has shifted forward, and his shoulders are trailing. He’s going to bomb it.”
down and up
“It’s amazing that at impact, his right shoulder has dropped significantly while his left leg is straightening,” McLean says. “Not many golfers can do that. This is where his athleticism shines.” The move allows him to simultaneously compress the ball while hitting it off the tee on the upswing.
walk the line
As Niemann continues into the through-swing, note his body and the golf shaft, McLean says. “It’s what I call the ‘powerline’. The golf club’s shaft is parallel to the target line and the clubhead is under his hands. That’s tough to achieve unless you have a strong back and are really flexible.”
wrap it up
“His hands are way around and behind the head, and the shaft is almost pointed at the target,” McLean says. “This shows tremendous rotation of his shoulders. Amazingly, despite some radical movement of his body in the through-swing, he’s perfectly in balance as he finishes.”
Joaquin Niemann 21 / 183 cm / Santiago
Driver Ping G400 LST (10 degrees)
Average drive 275.7 metres (301.5 yards)
Driving accuracy 61.7 percent