US Open: What golfers can learn

Every top player has balance in their golf swing

Andrew Raitt
Fri, 19 Jun 2009
US Open: What golfers can learn

US open golf
Graeme McDowell (right) practises his bunker shots (Pictures: Mark Pictures: Mark Newcombe/

US Open golf
Ian Poulter

 Former European Tour pro Andrew Raitt has joined the Golfmagic team to give an expert insight into the modern game. The George's Hill pro is currently top of the PGA Southern Region Order of Merit with four victories already under his belt and reveals what you can learn from watching the US Open this week

DURING THE build up to the US Open I've been receiving some images from Golfmagic's contributing photographer Mark Newcombe to see what we can learn from some of the competing players as they practice ahead of the opening rounds.

And as a pro, the first thing I noticed was the fabulous practice facilities tournament players get to use, not just ahead of a major but usually at any event on the European or US PGA Tour

US Open golf
Justin Leonard

I remember when I got my card for the first time I couldn't believe the facilties we had to warm-up and prepare every week. We get the best chipping, putting and range facilities with brand new balls - there's even a choice now depending on the brand a player uses. Looking back we had too much fun on the range!

There's a common factor in these images of top players practising at the US Open and what I think all these pictures can teach us is the importance of balance in the swing, whether its Graeme McDowell (top right) playing from a bunker shot to Ian Poulter hitting his driver.

From backswing to through swing, in every picture all these players are balanced.

Golfers I see and teach often wonder how much they should 'bend their knees' when playing golf. The answer is that knees should be flexed not bent.

US Open golf
Jim Furyk

To flex your knees is a natural position. Imagine you are receiving serve in tennis, badminton or squash, or trying to stop someone getting past you playing rugby or will naturally flex your knees and find a natural balance. That's it; it's simple!

Flexing is crucial to the flow of your swing; as soon as either knee is locked your body stops turning and your hands take over. It happens when players get nervous and their bodies naturally tighten up.

Notice how Justin Leonard chipping from the fringe, Jim Furyk pitching from a tight lie, Poulter and McDowell all have balance and have good spine angles at whatever stage of the shot they are in. This can only happen with flex in the knees allowing the body to pivot.

Tell us on the forum what you're learning from watching the US Open - that will help your game - and not just a reminder to buy yourself a good set of waterproofs!