MO MARTIN’s typical drive is about 235 yards, not impressive for a pro golfer but certainly understandable because she’s one of the smaller players on the LPGA Tour. Rather than focus on how far the 2014 Women’s British Open champion hits it, step back and watch in amazement at her precision. It seems like she never misses a fairway.
The stats have her at 85 percent driving accuracy (Chez Reavie leads the PGA Tour at 76 percent), but many of her misses are just off the fairway.
Her accuracy is largely a by byproduct of “neutral technique,” says her swing coach Ian Triggs (she also works with Jamie Mulligan). Her stance and swing are textbook and don’t require a lot of compensations to square the clubface by impact.
“My dad taught me in a net he built in our driveway,” Martin says. “Copying [Ben] Hogan’s book, he was so precise with my grip, plane, positions. Even my first-grade teacher wanted to know why I had an ‘X’ on my palm in permanent marker. It was a grip reminder. Extreme, sure, but I have him to thank for my accuracy.”
“Thanks to my dad, I never had any bad habits to unlearn.”
Although she’s not long off the tee, Mo Martin tries to get every yard she can out of her drives by setting up for a higher launch angle (right shoulder lower than the left; no forward lean to the shaft), says coach Ian Triggs. “She also stands athletically, knees in line with the feet to maintain balance.”
Making the same swing over and over is paramount to accuracy, and Martin’s takeaway repeats because it’s so simple, Triggs says. “The upper torso is doing all the work, taking the hands and club away in unison.” Another accuracy booster is minimal movement of the lower body—no sway.
As Martin’s torso continues to wind away from the target, she creates an even bigger turn by letting her left knee drift inward and her right hip rotate. The feel for proper loading in the backswing is that the muscles on the inside of the right leg are firing, Triggs says. “That’s how to store power.”
One thing you’ll rarely see is Martin transition from backswing to downswing awkwardly. “Her lower body is leading, pulling her upper body while her arms stay relaxed,” Triggs says. She also has retained the wrist angles set earlier, giving her the potential for more speed at impact.
A good swing thought to square the clubface and find its sweet spot: chest over the ball at impact. “She’s making sure her ball contact is high quality,” Triggs says. Another way to ensure you don’t strike the ball with a glancing blow is to maintain balance and not let weight move into the lead foot’s toes.
“Continuing to rotate her body through the shot allows the arms to stay out in front of her upper body, releasing naturally,” Triggs says. Another indication she’s not trying to hold off the finish of the swing is how her head rotates down the target line. “When that happens, the body releases better.”
Martin’s swing is the definition of “freeflowing,” Triggs says. She finishes balanced on her left leg, looking as if she just made a practice swing. A great indicator of the quality of a swing is how much tension you feel as it ends. Martin is relaxed, no doubt looking at another fairway hit.