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One of the most difficult things to watch in professional sports is a great champion losing his game. That’s what
happened to David Duval, an accomplished college player who dedicated himself to being a world champion
golfer. In time, he reached the pinnacle of professional golf, becoming the #1 ranked golfer in the world, shooting
59 in a tournament and winning the British Open. Then, seemingly all of a sudden, he lost his game, and his
ranking plummeted below 800th. Certainly, there are many things that attribute to such a decline, including family
issues, personal issues and swing issues.
As far as I can decipher, David has handled all the pressures of such a journey gracefully and with high spirits. He
is an example of fortitude and faith. We can all learn from his conduct. As this book is about the biomechanics of
the golf swing, I am more interested in discussing what has happened with Duval’s technique during this saga.
When he was No. 1, he had a wonderful golf stroke. His basic biomechanical package was Side-On, Mid-Track and
Front Anchor, and he organized that package into a sound Swing-Throw action. And it worked well.
You can argue whether Duval’s stroke changed first, or whether something else caused the decline in his ranking.
Whatever you believe, he did alter his technique, and he certainly struggled with his ball striking afterwards.
So, let’s discuss how each of the 12 Power3 Golf features relate to David Duval’s stroke through the years. Keep in
mind, that the observations of David’s swing are simply those. It is impossible to be certain of his exact
biomechanical package without testing his body to discover which options he truly owns. However, I can determine
what options he used when he was the top-ranked player as well as those he has been employing since his
decline. And by comparing those, we can gain great insight as to which biomechanical features his body truly owns.
Throughout the rest of this Chapter, I will address David’s swing in relation to each of the 12 Power3 Golf features.
I will discuss those I feel match his biomechanical make-up, and describe what I see happening when he employs
options that appear to be mismatched. Some key options have changed over the years, and they provide clear
insights into Duval’s swing issues. It always interests me how many great players are convinced to change their
swing styles simply because coaches fail to understand why the present ones work. I am more inclined to try and
understand why something is successful instead of changing it. But I believe many instructors would rather create
an explanation of why a style fails to match their particular model as opposed to spending time and effort to
understand a new or unfamiliar one. The fact is, David Duval’s stroke was very sound when he was at his
Of course, it could have been more efficient. And to make it so, I would have advised maintaining his basic
biomechanical package while refining those features that could have been performed more efficiently. I would have
tested his body to see how it is truly structured, and I would have suggested turning his Swing-Throw action into a
true Swinging action.
One of my first priorities when working with good golfers is to help them understand their natural tendencies and
how those tendencies developed because of their unique biomechanical make-ups. Keep in mind, your habits can
arise from tendencies that fit your natural structure or from manipulating swing concepts. Those that develop from
your natural structure are the most advisable. So, we have to discover what is truly natural and what has been
developed because it was instructed out of theory instead of biomechanical necessity.
In Duval’s case, much of what got him to the No. 1 was natural. What has happened since his decline has been the
result of swing changes made to fit a theory or system. The best thing he can do is get back to his natural
tendencies. He did some of that in 2009, and almost won the U.S. Open. I have often thought that if I had a few
hours to spend with Duval, I could convince him of the biomechanics his body owns and how he used those
feature/options effectively at the height of his game. OK, let’s get into Duval’s biomechanics so we can understand
what options truly work well when packaged into his stroke.
As we study Duval’s Swing Path, we discover that he owns the Side-On option. When he is playing his best golf, it
travels from inside to inside, and does so in a planing action. We also see the inside of his right forearm facing
Side-On during the takeaway and delivery actions. Lastly, he finishes in a very vertical posture with his right
shoulder slightly higher than his left. Those are all signs of a blended, Side-On Swing Path.
When David employs an Under Swing Path, he often sprays shots off to the right, and when it is delivered On-Top,
he misses his shots to the left. Therefore, it is clear to me that David has the best success with a Side-On Swing
When we study David’s Swing Track, it is evident he is a Mid-Track golfer. His left arm swings across his shoulder
line at the top of his backstroke, as compared to being aligned either below it, or above it. This is one of the
feature/options that have remained constant throughout the whole saga.
David employs Horizontal Hinging. His right wrist hinges back toward his forearm, and the clubface remains square-
to-the-arc of the stroke. Though he has been criticized for doing that, it is a sound action that suites him well. His
critics have accused him of having a closed clubface in his swing. However, he played the ball very straight until he
was encouraged to change his swing. If anything, his ball flight was slightly left-to-right and very penetrating.
His detractors argued that he had to block his shots, or hold off his release, otherwise he would hook the ball. But
video of his swing shows a completely unhinged release action with a perfectly in-line extension. The fact is,
horizontal hinging simply requires the release to unhinge without rolling. And that is actually a true release. As
mentioned earlier, actions that roll during the release are unhinging and rolling – those being two different actions.
A pure release simply unhinges.
As far as Duval’s Delivery Action, it travels to the inside and up the Hip-Plane Slot in the follow-through. That is a
classic Cornering Delivery, and one that blends well with his Side-On Swing Path.
As Duval’s follow-through continues to the finish, we can see a definite rounding action, as if everything is orbiting
around him. Some may describe it as being similar to a baseball swing. In my view, that is great because the
description fits the pattern of a Side-On golfer who delivers the stroke with the Cornering option.
Duval uses the Front Anchor Swing Anchor. Through college and up until he started his decline, he executed one
of the best Front Anchor actions ever. He set-up left of center, pivoted while maintaining that alignment, and
delivered the stroke with a Front Anchor Swing-Throw action. This is one of the options that has changed and
caused David a lot of problems with ball striking. After making many of his changes, Golf Digest published
photographs of his swing sequence. In that sequence it is clear his anchoring process became faulty.
It shows him setting up right of center (Rear Anchor), shifting into a Center Anchor top-set position, drifting back to
Front Anchor in the transition and then falling back to his right side during delivery. He is clearly drifting all over
That is problematic because it changes the bottom of the swing’s arc, causes inconsistency in his Slotting action
and institutes timing issues. Interestingly enough, Duval reverted from time to time to his Front Anchor form, and
enjoyed some good ball striking as a result. However, I suspect he was told he was reverting and encouraged to
get back to loading the right side more. Sometime before his great showing in the 2009 US Open Duval began
working with his former coach. He has since regained his Front Anchor form, and I am sure that adjustment greatly
helped him at Bethpage Black, where he finished tied for second. I would encourage him to continue working with
his Front Anchor technique, and if anything, learn how to do it better instead of trying to adapt more conventional
Duval has always been a Full Torque golfer, playing golf from the ground up. I’ve long felt he was one of the most
powerful players in the game, and his power was truly effortless. His biomechanics were so sound that he could
drive the ball as far as Tiger without working so hard. The key to that was having a fully integrated biomechanical
package. Nevertheless, his Full Torque option allowed him to develop power from the ground up while using his
As for Clearing, David uses Rear Hip Clearing. He has always made a strong move of his right side during the
clear and delivery actions. His right hip drives and rotates in such a way to replace the left hip in the forward
motion. That is a classic Rear Hip Clearing action for right-handed golfers. Additionally, we notice that he marries
his right arm to his right side. That means he is employing Rear Linkage, which matches up with Rear Hip Clearing.
David’s Axis of Symmetry seems to be Center Line. His rotary action looks very symmetrical around the Center
Line of his torso. This is one of the features we would need to test to be certain. It is also one of the
features/options he could tighten up a bit.
Even when he was at the top of his game, he would sometimes hang back a bit during the delivery action. That
caused his axis line to shift its angle of inclination even though he was rotating around it.
After making his swing changes, that hang-back move got even worse and contributed greatly to inconsistency with
regard to his ball striking.
When we talk about Duval’s Swing Linkage, we are once again reminded of how soundly he married his right arm to
his right side. When viewing footage of his best stroke, we also see that his whole right side moves through the
impact zone in one continuous motion. His right foot, knee, hip, shoulder, arm and hand all act in a unified action
through delivery. When he was struggling the most, his body would hang back as his arms, hands and club fired
through impact. That was a sign that he was becoming disconnected in the Linkage process.
It is clear to me he can be one of the best ball strikers in the world when he uses the Rear Zone Linkage option,
and that his ball striking plummets to less than average when both his Anchor and Linkage options are mismatched
to his body mechanics.
As far as Swing Slotting is concerned, David has always delivered his stroke in the Hip-Plane Slot. He performs a
sound Down-Slotting action from the top of the backstroke and finds the Hip-Plane Slot quite consistently. The
trouble comes when trying to blend his Clear, Slot and Link actions with a Swing Anchor technique that is drifting all
over the place.
While viewing Duval’s Postural Release, it is evident he uses the Post-Up option. His left leg posts through the
impact interval, and he releases his postural angles to a fully vertical finish once the delivery action is complete.
He also finished with his right shoulder slightly higher than his left - an alignment common to golfers employing the
Though he has always used the Post-Up option, it is one of the things he could have improved, as he has always
had a tendency to hang back slightly and his left leg tended to remain a little bent through impact. By utilizing a
more vertical and straight posting action coupled with releasing his posture upward a little sooner, Duval would
have taking some of the stress off of his back and his Swing-Throw action would have become more of a true
David uses the Deep-Deep Arch Management option. At least he does so when he is swinging well. After his
swing changes, he began employing the Wide-Narrow option and doing so created rhythm and timing issues.
The frequency of his swing matches up best with the Deep-Deep option and makes it much easier to Link up is
whole right side. When he uses the Wide-Narrow option, his body has to slow down as his arms catch up, and
everything needs to meet with split second timing. While utilizing the Deep-Deep option, Duval’s natural rhythm
remains intact, and he finds it easy to keep his whole right side moving through the impact zone in one continuous
In conclusion, I believe David Duval could learn much by understanding why the stroke he employed as the #1
player in the world was sound. As a matter of fact it was one of the most sound strokes ever employed. He could
then use Power3 Golf principles to fine-tune an action that was already very effective. The simple goal would be to
make the stroke more efficient. And that would ensure greater longevity – and better results - with less physical
Founder of the New Horizons Golf Approach
The following observations about David Duval's journey from #1 in the world to 882 and then making his comeback are
written By EA Tischler, and taken from his book Secrets of Owning Your Swing. Copyright 2010, all rights reserved.
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