Grace and power are two qualities rarely blended well in a golf swing, but that isn’t the case for US PGA Tour player Luke List, says his instructor, Jamie Mulligan. Though the show of force in other long hitters is obvious, it’s much more subtle with List.
“It’s the perfect combination of power and softness,” Mulligan says. The two started working together about five years ago, and Mulligan quickly recalls his first impression of List’s ability.
“Luke was a Ferrari,” he says. “We just had to get him to make the natural swing he was supposed to play with. And he has.”
List’s swing received a lot of attention in February when he turned in his best pro performance, finishing second to Justin Thomas at the Honda Classic. List got into a playoff by hitting a gutsy 4-iron 233 metres over water onto the green of the final hole of regulation, setting up a two-putt birdie. List is third on tour in driving distance with a season average of 287.9 metres (314.9 yards).
“We’re not working on anything right now, because we like where my swing is at,” List says. No kidding.
‘He’s a big guy with a great swing, kind of like Els and Weiskopf.’
– Jamie Mulligan
List sets up to bomb it, says his instructor, Jamie Mulligan, but a wide stance and pronounced shoulder tilt aren’t as noteworthy as the length of the radius he maintains between his body and the clubhead. “He uses his body pivot to move the club away wide. And wide equals power.”
You might think there’s tension building as List moves back – his left arm looks rigid – but there’s nothing tight about it, Mulligan says. List keeps everything long, but relaxed. Amateurs often forcibly hinge the club upward at this point in the swing, but List is letting it rise as a result of his body pivot.
His club’s shaft is parallel to the ground at the top, but only as a result of his impressive shoulder mobility. “He’s not trying to get it there. It just happens,” Mulligan says. More important, the clubface is square in relation to the plane line. He’s in perfect position for a long and straight drive.
A move to copy: List starts down with his lower body. “It’s a natural start,” Mulligan says. “His legs move towards the target, his club drops, and that creates the lag you see.” There’s very little going on with the upper body, Mulligan says. The lower body is dictating the action.
List rotates his head so it’s oriented behind the ball as he takes the club back. But as he swings down, one thing he works on is minimising head movement, Mulligan says. A drill they use is to pretend List has a glass of water on his head. When he swings, he shouldn’t spill a drop.
“The less you try to hit the ball hard, the better your chance of bombing it like List,” Mulligan says. “Luke lets the club get back to the ball in due time. The swing gathers speed on the way down, so he’s creating maximum energy through the impact area. It’s super efficient.”
List’s follow-through is graceful and free, letting his arms turn over like a mirror image of their backswing positions. To release the club properly like this, Mulligan says to try a practice drill where you make full-speed swings with your right thumb and forefinger (for right-handers) off the club.
33 / 188cm / 86kg / Jupiter, Florida
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