Stenson and Cowen: Coiling from the Ground Up

Oct 24, 2018 | Golf, Insights, PGA Tour Data

Henrik Stenson did more than win his first major on Sunday, he delivered one of the greatest performances of the modern era.

Final numbers: Stenson’s 20 under vs +9 field. In 2000 U.S. Open, Tiger shot 12 under vs +17 field. Both about 29 shots better.

— 15th Club (@15thClub) July 17, 2016

While Stenson isn’t always acknowledged as one of golf’s bombers like DJ, Day or Rory, he still moves it with the best of them. In four of the last five years, Stenson has ranked inside the top 10 on the PGA Tour in club head speed, helping making his 3W one of the most potent weapons in the game. His speed is the result of efficient sequencing and smooth power. At 6’1” and 200 pounds, Stenson’s doesn’t need to send his athletic frame airborne like Justin Thomas or violently snap his hips like McIlroy.

That said, he still uses the ground for power and, like every great swing in professional golf, sequences from the ground up. Last year, he shared the following swing thought with Golf Digest:

Like many great coaches, Mark Blackburn relies on a System rather than a specific program or swing theory. Every golfer is unique, therefore, they won’t always respond to the same program. Blackburn’s system is agnostic, meaning it doesn’t favor a specific style, but relies on individual assessment/evaluation.

My backswing happens from the ground up, starting with a shift to my right side, followed by the rotation of my hips, then my shoulders. All the while I’m maintaining that hold-the-ground feeling with my feet and legs. The downswing also is from the ground up, initiated by a little shift back to my left side and a picture in my mind that I’m working down and around with my legs and hips.

Stenson has worked with Pete Cowen since 2001. Cowen is one of the most revered instructors in the game, having helped shape the swings of Lee Westwood, Graeme McDowell and Louis Oosthuizen, Sergio García, and Darren Clarke.

Some refer to Cowen as an instructor who focuses on the upper body (specifically the shoulder, via Me and My Golf), but he doesn’t overlook the importance of ground mechanics.

As Stenson told Golf Digest, “I don’t want a quick hip turn—no snapping action—just a steady uncoiling.”

Cowen couldn’t have said it better here: “The better you have control of the ground, the better you control everything above the ground .”

“Don’t just turn and turn back, load the power.”

Stenson is one of golf’s many feel-good stories.  A talented player who lost his game and found it again through hard work and phenomenal instruction.  It’s also evidence of something we see in golf every week.  There are infinite ways to get it done, but great swings start on the ground.