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As we study Annika Sorenstam's swing and methodologies we find that she employs many of the principles
discussed in the New Horizons Golf Approach. For example, Annika discusses swinging with an easy rhythm and
tempo. She says, "if my swing is too hard, my tempo quickens and my accuracy suffers." Rhythm is on of the 5
fundamental principles discussed in the New Horizons Golf Approach. One of the main reasons accuracy suffers is
that swing with proper rhythm helps coordinate effective eye-hand coordination. That is because proper rhythm is
the rhythm that matches our internal rhythms. That makes it a personal thing. We each have a unique internal
rhythm and it is in our best interest to swing with that rhythm in mind. This is why we see some many great golfers
with varying rhythms and tempos. For example, players such as Lanny Wadkins and Nick Price have very quick &
crisp rhythms. On the other hand there are Fred Couples & Ernie Els with much slower rhythms.
Another principle that is common between the New Horizons Golf Approach and Annika's system is the concept of
finishing the swing well. Annika talks about rating your finish. She writes, "If you finish in balance, with your body in
a pretty straight line over your front foot, chances are you were balanced during your swing. The next time you
play, rate your finish position from 1 to 10 on each drive - one for falling over, and 10 for perfect balance. If you're
averaging less than 7, you're probably swinging too hard." Annika also talk about making a level turn in the
backstroke and finishing off the swing by turning through the ball in such a way that you can walk through toward
your target - a move Gary Player first made famous. As a matter of fact, Annika turns so well through the ball she
allows her head to rotate through the ball as well. A move many people criticized her for, however, one that I
believe matches her fundamentals as well as her body mechanics (we will explore that a little more later in this
discussion). Put the two concepts of turning and finishing well together and you get another one of the New
Horizons Golf Approach fundamentals - Pivoting to the Finish. (By the way you can study all 5 of the New Horizons
Golf Approach Fundamentals on this website. Simply click on the Stage One - Your Fundamentals icon and go
through the webpages in that section.
Since the early 1980's I've been using rating systems like the one Annika mentioned. I grew up in Northern
California where I met my Inner Game Coach, Fred Shoemaker. He was working with Timothy Gallwey at his Inner
Game of Golf Schools and I was fortunate enough to work with him extensively on the Inner Game Principles. Fred
also worked with Michael Murphy, being one of the key coaches at Michael's Golf In The Kingdom workshops.
Eventually Fred developed his Extraordinary Golf Schools and began presenting The Art of the Possible.
Throughout my experiences with Fred it became very clear to me that there was a growing movement in real
coaching developing in the world of golf. Through such great coaches as Tim Gallwey and Fred Shoemaker, along
with all the coaches that had mentored them, real coaching was coming to the forefront of the golfing world. As a
student of the Inner Game I developed my New Horizons Golf Approach. I chose the word approach, because I
believed that it was the way we approached the game that made the real difference in out performance. As early
as 1994 I began publishing my approach. It began with The Way Of The Golfer - Searching For New Horizons,
continued with Golf - The Timeless Game - A Natural Way To Play, New Horizons Golf - A Physical, Mental, &
Inner Renaissance, Focus On Golf - Creating The Golfers Edge, and LIfe Lessons & Golf - Self Help For Golfer.
As part of the New Horizons Golf Approach I developed the Fore54 Golf concept. A concept that involved
cultivating all parts of the in a manner that would help golfers move closer to achieving the Holy Grail of golfing
scores 54. When Annika became the number one player in Women's golf and it became known that she was
learning the Vision54 concepts under Lynn Marriott and Pia Nilsson i was very excited because I knew that all the
hard work that the Inner Game proponents had been putting into the game had finally broken into the mainstream
of golf. In the end it is the way you approach the game and manage your Inner Game that determine how good a
performer you become. One of the Key principles of the Inner Game approach is that of being aware, and it is to
that end that using a rating system is employed. In order to rate your performances, you must pay attention.
Beyond being aware, rating your performances also helps you become self-motivated. The reason is, no one
wants to settle for ratings of 4, 5 or 6 on a scale from 1 to 10. We all want at least 7's and strive for 8's, 9's and
10's. One of the things I regularly ask my students is, "If that is the worst swing you made all do would you be
Happy?" It always turns out that if the rating is 7 or higher they say yes. And that is because, when the
performance level is at a 7 or higher the shot result is always playable. As a follow-up I ask them, if the worst swing
you make all day is a 7, how well will you play. They always say, "Good, I just need to make the putts!" So, I find it
interesting that Annika and her coaches noticed that the minimum acceptable rating was a 7 for her finish.
Another thing Annika employs that is discussed in the basics of the New Horizons Golf Approach(NHGA) is
swinging with your right hand only holding the club. I advocate doing it without a ball for a while, then once your
feel strong enough actually start playing shots that way. In NHGA is describe this as being a natural process for
dominant right handed people. In general I advocate using your dominant hand to control the club. If you are right-
handed use your right hand, if left-handed use your left hand, and if you are ambidextrous use both or either. One
of the Key benefits of approach your play naturally in this manner is that you learn how to release the club
naturally. In regard to this drill Annika writes, "Then your right side can release and fire through, making perfect
contact." I agree completely with Annika's observations. And I am glad that after some 20+ years of being
criticized of coaching dominant hand concepts that other great players are confirming its value.
Another fundamental concept Annika talks about is starting the downswing at the bottom. This is a concept that
many great players have employed, generally described as playing golf from the ground up. Annika writes, "I
initiate the downswing by driving my right knee and foot toward the target. This shifts my weight forward, allowing
the rest of the downswing to work in proper sequence. The arms start down first, then my hips and shoulders turn
out of the way, clearing a path for my arms to swing." This is a wonder description of the sequence of her down
stroke, and sequencing is a timing issue. And Proper Timing is one of NHGA's 5 fundamental principles.
Another NHGA fundamental is that of Following-Through in a target oriented manner. Although the basic concept
is that of following through to the target. To this end Annika uses a Release Drill she calls Shake Hands In The
Follow-Through. She writes, "Also, note the position of my club and body in the shake-hands position. There is
were I want to be halfway into my follow-through." At that point the club shaft is parallel to the ground and the
clubhead is toe-up.
As far as Annika's biomechanics are considered I believe her basic package is a Side-On, Mid-Track, Center
Anchor one. The main reasons I believe she is a Side-On golfer is that she possesses certain qualities in her
swing that all Side-On golfers need. First of all the distinct Rotate the Head through impact action that she
employs. This is a characteristic of all biomechanically sound swings that use the Side-On feature/option. We can
also see it employed in David Duval's stroke - and he displays Side-On attributes as well. Another aspect that
points to her being side on is the position she describes in the Release Drill talked about above. At the parallel to
the ground position in the follow-through she writes, "I've released the club properly, and my hips and shoulders
point left of the target - a sure sign my right side has fired through correctly." Facing left of the target half-way
through the follow-through is another action that all Side-On golfers employ. Indeed, many Side-On golfers
describe swinging left of the target as compared to at it. Additionally, Side-On golfers tend to employ a Post-Up
Postural Release feature/option, a characteristic Annika's swing certainly employs. Lastly Annika talks about her
shoulders rotating "fairly level through impact." Under golfer notice the right shoulder rotating more down and
under through the ball, where as Side-On golfers fell the right shoulder higher and rotating more level through the
Annika's seems to employ a Mid-Track Swing Track. This can be seen in a concept she describes in regard to
getting to the top of the Backstroke. The concept is "Turn, don't lift." By doing so, Annika achieves a Top-Set
position that is relatively neutral. By that I mean more through the shoulder line instead of the left are elevating
more vertically above the shoulder line or swinging around more horizontally below the shoulder line. She says, "I
Sometimes lift my arms too much in the backswing. This throws my whole backswing out of whack...." Clearly she
viewed what I call High-Tracking as a flawed biomechanical move in her case. Because of this tendency Annika
often achieved a Top-Set position that was what I would describe as being in the high-side of the Mid-Track,
however, she seemed to play her best golf when solidly in the middle of the Mid-Track.
When viewing Annika's Swing Anchor feature, she appears to use a Center Anchor option. She sets up to the ball
in a relatively 50-50 weight distribution and then focuses on turning in a level and centered manner to the top of
the backstroke. She writes, "On the backswing, try to turn your hips within an imaginary cylinder..." As she does
so she will have some weight load to the right side, however she does so in a very centered manner. She actually
considers any bumping of the hips to the right as a flaw. In my opinion Annika played her best when she
maintained a pure Center Anchor pivot action, played good if it was Center-Right, and played poorly when she
drifted into a Rear Anchor pivot action. As a matter of fact, one of her regular misses was a pull or pull hook and
that always happened when she was drifting into a Rear Anchor pivot action.
With all this in mind, I believe the basic biomechanical package that fits Annika Sorenstam is a Side-On, Mid-Track,
Center Anchor package. In her book Golf Annika's Way there are also hints to the fact that she employed Center
Linkage Swing Linkage, Hip-Plane Swing Slotting, and a Cornering Delivery action. I will touch on those aspects
of her swing as well as the rest of the biomechanical features in an upcoming Secrets of Owning Your Swing book.
So you will just have to wait for my observations on the remaining features.
Instead I would like to mention some of Annika recommendations for what I call Stage 4 - Playing the Game. With
her Vision54 coaches Annika acquired a wonderful method of play on the golf course and I believe we can all
derive a lot of value from her method of play. I certainly recommend her book as well as the Vision54 book Every
Shot Must Have A Purpose for those of you that what to understand the principles that made Annika such a great
At this point in time I am going to simply list these concepts and I will leave it up to the dedicated golfers to study
them in those books. You will also be able to find relate topics in my Stage 4 books as well as in Fred Shoemaker's
Extraordinary Golf books, Michael Murphy's Golf In The Kingdom, Timothy Gallwey's Inner Game of Golf, as well as
a bunch of other books I will list as recommendations on the Miscellaneous page of this website.
From Golf Annika's Way
- Face The Fear
- No More Fear
- Get "In The Zone"
- Stay In The Moment
- Take A Vacation Between Shots
- Keep Learning
- Use a Decision Line
From Every Shot Must Have A Purpose
- The Most Important Shat in Golf Is This One
- Let The Target Be Your Guide
- Practice Real: Practice with a Purpose
- HEARTGOLF: It All Adds Up to Better Golf
- Make Pressure Your Friend
- Have a Swing That Suits You
- VISION54: Make It the Way You See the Game
Founder of the New Horizons Golf Approach
|New Horizons Golf Approach
I n n o v a t i v e C o a c h i n g F o r G o l f e r s
The following observations about Annika Sorenstam's Swing and methodologies are written By EA
Tischler. Copyright 2010, all rights reserved.