Who has the most unorthodox swing in the game?

By Ryan LavnerOctober 22, 2012, 4:22 pm

Tommy Gainey and his homemade swing won this past week’s McGladrey Classic. Does he possess the most unorthodox swing in the game? GolfChannel.com writers weigh in.

By JASON SOBEL

There is nothing orthodox about Tommy Gainey’s rise through the ranks of professional golf. He grew up in rural South Carolina; attended Central Carolina Technical College; worked on an assembly line before trying his hand at a golf career and, of course, wears two gloves for all shots – even putts.

With a background like that, you’d never expect the guy to have a swing like Fred Couples or Ernie Els.

Instead, he owns a maneuver that Brandel Chamblee once said “looks like he’s trying to kill a snake with a garden hoe.” Interesting imagery. With those two gloves, I’ve always thought he appeared more like a lumberjack chopping down an invisible tree. (click to view swing)

Whatever your descriptive terminology preference, it’s clear to see that Gainey is unconventional in the best way. He uses a true baseball grip, bends more at the waist than any instructor would recommend and dips his head like an 18-handicap. He lists his brother as his lone swing coach, perhaps because no one else could teach that move, let alone help him maintain it.

Two Gloves is the antithesis of the cookie-cutter, country-club types who clutter PGA Tour ranges with numerous gurus brandishing the latest video equipment. He’s the most unorthodox player around – and evidenced by his recent McGladrey Classic victory, that’s something to be celebrated rather than disapproved.


By REX HOGGARD

In this cookie-cutter age of swing theory and the sometimes overzealous pursuit of mechanical perfection Bubba Watson is the prince of unorthodox swings. (click to view swing)

In fact, it’s not even a contest. Just consider Tommy Gainey’s take on the big left-hander’s unique action, “I mean Bubba just . . . I mean he slashes at it. That’s about the only word I can use that would come close to the way he hits it.”

This from a man widely known as “Two Gloves,” who admittedly has a hate-hate relationship with the ubiquitous TrackMan machine that dissects players’ actions.

Watson’s swing is long and loose and virtually uncoachable. In the wake of his Masters victory in April numerous swing coaches said they wouldn’t take on Watson as a student because, as one coach said, “there is no way to teach that.”

What appears to be a collection of mutually exclusive moving parts produces the fastest club-head speed on Tour (124.69 mph), the longest driving average (315.5 yards) and, most importantly, the year’s greatest shot.

From 151 yards away, Watson carved his second shot out of the trees right of the 10th fairway at Augusta National, his second playoff hole, to 10 feet for a two-putt par and his first major championship – a historically unorthodox shot from the game’s most unorthodox swing.


By RANDALL MELL

Nobody gets more double takes in golf than Josh Broadaway on the Web.com Tour.

Nobody’s swing gets more snickers and giggles (click to view swing).

That’s because nobody defies convention more than Broadaway, not Jim Furyk nor Tommy “Two Gloves” Gainey. Notably, it’s not really the motion of Broadaway’s swing that makes it the most unorthodox in pro golf. If you were watching from afar, you might not notice anything odd. It’s his cross-handed grip that makes his swing radically different from any in golf.

A left-handed batter in youth baseball, Broadaway couldn’t find left-handed clubs growing up, and so as a young boy he put his left-hander’s grip on the right-handed clubs. He tried to change for a time to a conventional grip, but it never felt comfortable, so he went back. Broadaway, 34, was good enough cross-handed to Monday qualify for The Honda Classic last year and make the cut. He barely missed graduating to the PGA Tour last year, finishing 28th in money winnings on the now Web.com Tour, three spots short of a PGA Tour card. He’s 75th in money this year but still determined to someday become the first player to win a major cross-handed.


By RYAN LAVNER

Jim Furyk’s swing draws many comparisons – to actions in other sports, strangely, not necessarily to Rory McIlroy. (click to view swing)

Furyk’s hands are so low, it looks like he’s trying to receive a snap under center. His downswing looks like he’s trying to slap a hockey puck. His lower-body action looks like he’s trying to hula-hoop.

Space is limited, so let’s merely gloss over his ever-changing putting stroke and unique pre-shot routine. Grip and re-grip. Back off and settle in. Hike up the pants. Consult and calculate.

Yet despite all of his quirks, the 42-year-old Furyk has won 16 times on Tour. He’s earned more than $52 million. He’s a lock for the Hall of Fame.

All of which makes him the most successful unorthodox swinger of his generation – and the envy of unconventional players everywhere.

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McIlroy 'really pleased' with opening 69 in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:10 pm

It was an auspicious 2018 debut for Rory McIlroy.

Playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson for his first round since October, McIlroy missed only one green and shot a bogey-free 69 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. McIlroy is three shots back of reigning Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood, who played in the same group as McIlroy and Johnson.

Starting on the back nine at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, McIlroy began with 11 consecutive pars before birdies on Nos. 3, 7 and 8.

“I was excited to get going,” he told reporters afterward. “The last couple of months have been really nice in terms of being able to concentrate on things I needed to work on in my game and health-wise. I feel like I’m the most prepared for a season that I’ve ever been, but it was nice to get back out there.”

Fleetwood, the defending champion, raced out to another lead while McIlroy and Johnson, who shot 72, just tried to keep pace.

“Tommy played very well and I was just trying to hang onto his coattails for most of the round, so really pleased – bogey-free 69, I can’t really complain,” McIlroy said.

This was his first competitive round in four months, since a tie for 63rd at the Dunhill Links. He is outside the top 10 in the world ranking for the first time since 2014. 

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Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

"A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

"If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."

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Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 10:39 pm

When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.

Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.

"I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"


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The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.

"It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."

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DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.

Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.

"It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."

Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.

"I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."

Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.

"If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."