Michelle Wie has it and Tiger Woods doesn’t. For all of us who were utterly perplexed by Tiger’s explanation of what happened to him at the Waste Management Phoenix Open — he couldn’t activate his glutes — Michelle Wie has the answer and now she’s shared her secret.
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The 2014 US Women’s Open champion says her secret begins with how she manages her legs. The long, lean six-footer says she puts an emphasis on leg power into her workout routine so she’ll have a strong base that can fuel her coil.
But don’t despair if you’re not a long, lean six-footer. Wie says her technique and approach will work for all of us. Her simplified set-up has demystified the problem that so plagued Tiger Woods in Phoenix.
As Wie talks us through how she manages the cycle we all know so well — from address to backswing to transition and then impact — I found two surprises: First, while her legs and feet function as her power supply, they’re remarkably quiet during the initial phases of her shot set-up. Second, Wie’s shoulders, not her hips, are the fulcrum of her backswing and transition body coils.
What results is a simple, elegant, and very powerful swing that delivers maximum power at the moment of impact.
This is how Wie sets up her address:
While most of us are looking down the fairway and thinking about our target (or what we’d like to avoid — the tree, the fairway bunker, the water hazard), Michelle Wie’s thoughts are elsewhere. She’s inside her body, feeling her legs sink into the ground and getting them ready to engage in a huge push.
Wie keeps her backswing simple.
Her upper body makes the turn. Her arms and hands “come along for the ride,” and her legs stay planted. Look at the Nike logo on her left quad. It hasn’t moved and it’s not going to move for a while. Her hips and legs are firmly planted in the turf and they’re quiet. All the action at this point is taking place in her shoulders.
For Wie the energy conversion begins in her transition and builds through her downswing into an explosive moment of impact.
For Wie, the “transition” isn’t about shifting her hips. It’s about making a subtle but crucial weight transfer to her forward leg and foot. As a result, Wie’s body shift at the core involves a lateral move rather than a rotation.
Take a close look at these pictures. What’s happening to that Nike logo? Not much. Her hips still aren’t moving.
It’s Wie’s shoulder rotation that’s bringing the club around and into position and while that’s happening her forward foot and leg are getting ready to do their big job and deliver the power she needs to get the ball in the air and send it down the pipeline.
Here’s how Michelle Wie looks at the moment of impact.
Wie doesn’t actually “activate” her glutes until late in the process of executing her swing. Here’s how she explains it:
Once I finish shifting my hips toward the target during my transition, I immediately turn, first with my hips and then with my upper body, creating a whiplike “snap” through the ball. It’s that simple—just unwind, releasing the coil you built up in your backswing. Michelle Wie (http://www.golf.com/instruction/michelle-wie-my-4-driving-secrets)
Wie will be putting this swing to work at the Kingsmill Championship over the next four days, so we’ll all have plenty of opportunities to study it. Now that we know what to look for we may all be able to more efficiently activate our own glutes and achieve that 250 yard, down-the-middle shot that tends to elude us, although quite honestly, I’d happily settle for 200 yards!
Wie’s paired with Lizette Salas and Morgan Pressel Thursday and Friday and with a Golf Channel delayed broadcast of the first two rounds of the Kingsmill, I’m looking forward to settling down this evening and enjoying a couple of hours of some good golf.
If you don’t want to wait until 9pm ET to know how the round is unfolding you can always follow the action live on the LPGA electronic leaderboard and if you follow me on Twitter @bethbethel I’ll notify you when I publish commentary about the Kingsmill and other golf-related news.