Looking at Xander Schauffele’s driving stats, you probably wouldn’t guess his size (178cm, 79 kilograms). Schauffele averaged 279 metres off the tee on the US PGA Tour in 2018, which prompts the question of how he’s able to keep up with – and sometimes outdrive – tour pros who are a lot bigger and stronger. Turns out, it’s not because he’s trying to swing as hard as he can.
“We don’t want him swinging any faster; that’s been optimised,” says his father Stefan, who has been Xander’s only swing coach. “The key to his power is the width of his swing arc. The wider the arc, the more time he has to gather clubhead speed into the ball.”
Another important factor, Xander says, is that he puts all his energy into the strike.
“Some guys talk about swinging through the ball, but I think about impact like hammering a nail,” Xander says. “My dad actually had me hammer nails to understand this concept. You hit that nail as hard as you can. I store my power right up until it’s time to hit the ball.”
Stick To The Script
Xander is set up to hit his stock drive – a high-to-mid trajectory flight with a slight draw. “Setup is designed to be simple and repetitive,” explains his father and coach, Stefan. “The idea is to minimise the number of moving parts in the swing before he takes the club back. And balance is important.”
You can see here how far Xander’s arms move away from his body. “The task is to accelerate an object on an arc,” Stefan says. “That means the greater the arc, the greater the progressive acceleration potential. In other words, a big arc makes up for a lack in lever size.”
“Three quarters of the way back, notice that Xander shifts his weight merely by rotating around his spine anchors – the neck and tailbone,” Stefan says. And though he loads into his right side, “there’s almost no recognisable lateral shift.” His hips haven’t drifted away from the target.
A Dash Of Classic
At the top of the swing, Xander has completed a full shoulder turn and the shaft is parallel to the ground. “Although this is a modern swing position, we’re not opposed to classical elements,” Stefan says. “For example, Xander will raise his left heel off the ground for additional power when needed.”
As the club approaches the ball, “it’s time to cash in on that wide arc,” Stefan says. Xander’s swing features a significant squat as the club moves down. He uses his thigh and butt muscles to push into the ground to add power to the strike. “It’s like when a boxer throws a punch,” Xander says.
Saving The Spine
“Through impact, Xander’s right heel is significantly rising off the ground,” Stefan says. “Xander is pushing hard off his right side for more power.” This move also takes some strain off his back and “allows him to clear his left side and post up on his left leg without obstruction”, Stefan says.
The Big Finish
“Note the maximum extension down the target line and the full supination of his left forearm,” Stefan says. “Those are additional power indicators. His swing is going from big to small, then back to big.” The finishing image in Xander’s mind is that of a pointer dog after spotting the prey.
25 / 178cm / 79kg
La Jolla, California
Callaway Rogue Sub Zero (9.5 degrees)
Callaway Chrome Soft X