Few golfers -- male or female -- have had the success of Annika Sorenstam. Before she retired at the end of the 2008 season she had 89 total career wins, including 72 LPGA tournaments and 10 majors, and she's the only woman to shoot 59 in a competition round. She did it with a swing that has changed very little, a swing that has been praised by almost everyone from Jack Nicklaus to Tiger Woods. And best of all, it's a swing that almost anyone can learn.
Johnny Miller once called her "a human golf machine." Part of the beauty of Sorenstam's swing is its simplicity. There are no dramatic or tricky moves involved. Her downswing looks very much like her backswing. She takes the club back to the top, then swings down to strike the ball. There is no sliding from side-to-side nor any attempts to manipulate the club. She simply turns away from the ball then turns back through it. Despite her solid mechanics, however, and her admission that she constantly checks her swing positions in a mirror, Sorenstam describes herself as a feel player.
Setup and Alignment
Sorenstam says that when she makes a mistake in her swing the cause is usually something she did before she taking the club back. As a result she never practices -- either at home or on the road -- without checking her alignment, often laying a club on the ground to help her confirm that it's correct. She credits this for her consistent play.
She likes an athletic setup, with her weight on the balls of her feet and her knees slightly flexed. She makes sure she doesn't round her shoulders at address because "if your back is rounded, there's no room for your arms to swing." In her book, "Golf Annika's Way," Sorenstam summed up her address position with the assertion, "At address, I stand like a boxer ready to throw a jab -- or receive one."
Although many people comment on the way Sorenstam's head swivels toward the target as she hits the ball -- a signature move that she says reduces tension in her shoulders -- an equally obvious move is the one-piece takeaway that she uses during her backswing. She rotates everything -- her arms, hips, shoulders, chest and club -- away from the ball in one motion. A one-piece takeaway just means she turns her shoulders to start her backswing. This allows her to remain relaxed while starting the club back on plane. It also helps prevent her from getting too much inside on her backswing, which she says would adversely affect her accuracy when pitching the ball.
Key Swing Thoughts
Sorenstam says the best drill she ever learned was to make practice swings with both feet together. This simple drill helps her feel the proper movement during her backswing while also improving her balance. She also likes to keep her right elbow fairly straight at the top of her backswing, as this helps increase the size of her arc.