Before the 2014 Ryder Cup, you’d probably never heard of Jamie Donaldson. The man who clinched victory for Europe at Gleneagles had played sporadically on the European Tour, suffering from back problems that were so bad one doctor recommended he retire.

Nevertheless, Donaldson, who was born in Wales and lives in England, persevered in anonymity. He found a specialist to help him rehab his back with core exercises. Donaldson broke through in 2012, winning the Irish Open at age 36, after 255 starts and finishing 47th on the European Order of Merit. He played well enough on the US PGA Tour as a non-member in 2014 to earn his card for this year.

But the highlight of Donaldson’s career came on the 15th hole of his Ryder Cup singles match against Keegan Bradley last September. When European captain Paul McGinley showed up, Donaldson knew his match might be the decider. After his tee shot found the fairway, he stuck a wedge from 134 metres to within a foot to close out Bradley, 4 & 3, and secure the Cup for Europe.

Jamie Donaldson's SwingJamie Donaldson's Swing

Here teacher Dean Reinmuth tells us what’s to love about Donaldson’s swing.

  • Elbows in
    “I really like Jamie’s setup,” says Golf Digest teaching professional Dean Reinmuth. “Check out the part of his right arm where you’d give blood: It’s pointed slightly right of the target. That pre-sets a perfect takeaway. He looks a bit like Nicklaus in his prime.”
  • Hips stay in place
    Halfway back and towards the top, Donaldson’s arms are creating a wide swing arc as he winds his body. “You can see a bit of daylight between his right upper arm and chest (position 2),” Reinmuth says. “Yet his belt buckle has barely moved from where it was at address.”
  • Quiet hands
    Donaldson is in a powerful position at the top. His clubface is slightly closed (pointing skyward), which Reinmuth likes. “Very few good golfers play from an open face position at the top,” he says. “It requires too much hand action to square the club in time for impact.”
  • A little shift
    “I love the move Jamie makes to start the downswing,” Reinmuth says. “Look at his left leg: There’s a slight lateral movement. And his right elbow is just below his left, which shows he’s retaining his wrist hinge beautifully without letting the club get stuck behind his body.”
  • Impact is spot on
    As the club gets to the ball, Donaldson’s hips have not turned open much, and his arms and club are squarely in front of him. Reinmuth notes his impact alignments: “His head is well behind the ball, and his left leg has straightened. Good power positions.”
  • Energy forward
    Past impact and into the finish, the energy of the swing goes forward, not up, Reinmuth says. “His weight has transferred to the outside of his left foot, which has released off the ground. Johnny Miller used to do this. That’s why Jamie’s hips stay level and he stays in perfect balance.”



Jamie Donaldson
39 / 5-foot-11
79 kilograms
Macclesfield, England

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