How You Can Add Power to Your Golf Swing - DJ vs. Rahm

You’re right, that isn’t Dustin Johnson or Jon Rahm in the image. Sorry, I didn’t have six bills to drop to buy a copyrighted image.

But watching those two in the finals of the WGC Match Play gave me the idea to write an article on how you can add power to your golf swing. Even more so when I saw the swing comparison video that the PGA Tour showed of Dustin Johnson and Jon Rahm on the practice range (screenshots below).

But imagine if you will, that the image is of you, and you want to add power to your golf game. What can we take from the golf swings of these two bombers to accomplish that goal? 

Let’s take a look at some screen captures of their swings and look for similarities. Then we can evaluate your swing and see how we can apply what we learned and add power to your golf swing.

I will use screen capture images of Johnson and Rahm at the:

  • top of the backswing
  • half-way through the downswing
  • at impact
  • and at the finish of their swings

And point out some key positions that you should incorporate into your golf swing to add more power.

Furthermore, I’ll reference some mobility tests to see if you can put your body into those positions.

No Two Swings Are The Same – Except Where They’re Alike

As a Titleist Performance Institute Fitness Professional, we live by TPI’s philosophy of the swing:

“We don’t believe there is one way to swing a club; we believe there are an infinite number of ways to swing a club. But we do believe that there is one efficient way for everyone to swing a club and it is based on what they can physically do.”

But, if in those infinite number of ways to swing a club the best players in the world are in the same positions, well then, we should pay attention to those movements and try to incorporate them into our swing. 

I wrote a post on improving driver swing speed by comparing the swings of eight of the longest hitters on the PGA and LPGA tours. So this idea isn’t new to me.

These golfers at the top of their sport have optimized their equipment, nutrition, and swing by the best swing instructors, fitness professionals, and mental coaches that money can buy. All of their swings look different, but the results are the same, long and straight golf shots (for the most part).

But even with different looking swings, at times their bodies and movement patterns are in similar positions. I think these similar positions and movements must be key to adding power to the golf swing.

When I saw the video comparing the swings of Dustin Johnson and Jon Rahm, it really drove the point home. The swings are so different, yet the results are drives that consistently carry 320-yards. 

Let’s take a look at their swings.

Side-by-Side Swing Comparison of DJ and Rahm

The first images are at the top of the backswing. Take a look at the pictures, and we’ll discuss the similarities afterward.

You can click on the image to enlarge it for better viewing. 

Top of the Backswing

Remember, I’m concerned with body positions and not necessarily swing mechanics, regardless if they may be related. 

Besides, the wrist cupping and the fact that they haven’t loss spine posture, the upper bodies aren’t very similar. 

But look how similar their lower bodies are to each other.

You can tell by the flexed and solidly planted trail leg that they have transferred the majority of their weight to it because only the toe of the front leg is touching the ground for balance. 

Both players hips have about the same degree of rotation.

Almost all of the golfers I’ve screened can get their lower bodies into these positions. Many golfers lose posture at the top of the backswing because of T-spine issues, but again, for this post, I’m concerned about the positions that DJ and Jon have in common. 

About Halfway in the Downswing

It’s obvious from the image that DJ uses his height, angular momentum, and wrist lag to generate power, while Jon is using brute muscle to produce power. However, there are some fundamental movements that amateur golfers need to take away from the image below.

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Both golfers have transferred their weight from the trail leg to the front leg. But notice how they seem to be pushing into the ground with the toes of the trail leg. The trail leg is pushing the right hip, forcing the pelvis to rotate to their left. The leg bones are acting like a cam in an engine.

Overall, both golfers are in the same position. Yes, DJ’s club has a lot more lag, but look at the wrist positions. The right wrists of both players have a lot of wrist extension. Their left wrists are both radial deviated, in fact, throughout the swing, both players wrists are active and rotating in all directions at some point. 

Having enough forearm strength and wrist mobility are an important aspect of adding power to your golf swing.

There are two more points I’d like to emphasize during the downswing.

Both players have tucked their tailbones underneath. Being able to actively pelvic tilt during the golf swing is a key move. During the golf swing, the pelvis is repositioning itself, tilting back and forward, and is crucial for the transfer of power from the lower body to the upper body during the golf swing.

Notice the hip position on both players. The hips are already opening toward the target. From the top of the backswing to halfway in the downswing, their hips have rotated from closed to the target to open. Within milliseconds, the hips have turned and will continue to rotate pulling the upper body with them. 

Hip rotation is key to adding power to the golf swing.

At Impact

The positions are not very similar at all. I was surprised at the image. DJ is still relying on angular momentum as his hips are much more open than in the last picture. But Rahm’s hips are about the same. He’s generating his power by pushing against the ground.

At impact, their wrists, arms, shoulders, hips, feet, pelvis, and front leg position are all different.

The Finish

Besides the higher club finish for Rahm, their body positions are nearly identical. 

Start with the feet, weight is completely transferred over the lead ankle, so much so, that both of their left toes are off the ground with the weight on the back part of the foot.

Finally, Rahm’s hips have opened more, both player’s hips are facing left of the target. 

Can you do that?

DJ has a bit more side bend, but their torsos are in a similar position as are their arms. Notice that both players can swing over 120-mph and stop the club at the point of full rotation. 

I know I can’t hold that position, my muscles rebound or snap back because I haven’t developed the strength to stop my swing at my driver speed. I can hold my short and middle iron positions, but at higher swing speeds my muscles can’t stop and hold. It could also be a lack of T-spine and/or shoulder mobility that’s causing my club to rebound during my follow-through.

What does that mean? That I have a higher probability of injury due to the stress on my upper and lower back.

Take Aways

It’s pretty obvious by comparing DJ’s and Rahm’s golf swings that golfers can generate power and distance in different ways. 

But there are a couple of common positions or movements that both players do that might be necessary to add power to your golf swing.

My big takeaways from the comparison are: 

  • Stay in posture.
  • Make room for my arms and hands at impact.
  • Shift my weight over to the heel on my lead foot while staying balanced.
  • Improve wrist mobility.
  • Start hip rotation early in swing and be in an open position at impact.
  • Hold the follow-through.

Both DJ and Rahm never lose posture. No surprise here, all good golfers keep the same angles between set-up and impact. 

They also have a smooth weight shift during the backswing and downswing where the majority of the weight is transferred to the trail leg during the backswing; and then to the lead leg during the downswing where all of the body weight is directed down the leg into the ankle and heel.

Neither golfer loses their balance, and they don’t step out after the swing. To use a basketball term, they post up on that lead ankle.

Look at each of the images and see their wrist positions. You’ll see that wrist mobility is important to create lag and get the club shaft from horizontal to vertical during the last millisecond of the swing to create more clubhead speed.

Once the backswing is finished or nearly finished, your hips need to start rotating toward the target. It appears that near contact, rotational speed depends more on swing style. DJ continued to rotate throughout the swing, while Rahm’s didn’t completely open up his hips until the follow-through. 

Note that both players hips are open at impact. Both are open, however, DJ continuously rotates while Rahm slows down rotation but is still in an open position.

Many golfers, including me, don’t get our hips open until after impact. My hip position looks more like the woman’s hips in this cover image. We lose a ton of power because of the lack of hip rotation.

This can be a mobility, stability, or swing problem. But there are tests to determine the problem

In order to swing a golf club fast, you need to be able to stop your rotation quickly. I’ll write more on this topic shortly and will link it back to this post.

To this point, Jason Glass works with professional athletes in rotational and extreme sports. He worked with a snowboarder that needed to strengthen his body to absorb the shock of landing jumps off 50-foot high cliffs.

The result of strengthening the body to stop impact also allowed the athlete to jump higher and rotate faster. After testing other athletes, such as golfers, he found that anti-rotational exercises help golfers rotate faster. 

It’s important to hold the finish of your golf swing, as that control will allow you to swing faster because your body feels it has the control to stop before an injury occurs.

Test Yourself

Everyone’s golf swing is different because our physical capabilities aren’t the same. That said, I do think it’s worthwhile to see what the professional golfers have in common with each other. There has to be body positions and movements that are key to a powerful golf swing. 

By evaluating our own golf swing, movement patterns, and physical conditioning, you can concentrate efforts to master key movements that the professionals have in common and provide quick solutions so you can play better golf.

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