Why was Patrick Reed using an Arnold Palmer-style swing at The Northern Trust?

August 12, 2019

Patrick Reed won the Northern Trust Open at Liberty National last weekend with a fine display of ball-striking, especially off the tee.

Reed ranked second in SG: Driving and fourth in SG: Tee-to-Green, a marked difference from his trend so far this season, where he ranks 70th in SG: Driving.

A major part of the uptick in Reed’s stats was prompted by a new go-to shot he’s seemed to develop. He employed it frequently over the course of the tournament; you can see one instance below.

And also here…

And another, during the final round.

The swing looks pretty conventional up until the finish, which he punctuates with an over-the-head, helicopter-style follow through.

The swing has a kind of Arnold Palmer-quality about it.

So, why is Reed swinging that way?

Without getting too in the weeds, Reed’s clubface tends to be a little open at the top of the backswing and into the downswing, which leads to a hard roll of the wrists through the ball as he attempts to square the face. He’s not the only player to swing like this and it clearly works for him (just look at what he did on Sunday).

The helicopter follow-through swing that you see above comes into play when Reed isn’t trying to square the face up. Instead, he’s trying to hold the face off and keep it open so he can make sure he hits a fade.

With the obvious caveat that the camera angles aren’t perfect, you can see the move at play in the pictures below. On the left frame you can see more wrist roll and a clubface that’s more shut; on the right frame, the wrists haven’t rolled as drastically, and the clubface is more open.

So, that’s what Reed is doing when his follow-through looks like that. He’s guaranteeing that he keeps the clubface open, and never lets it roll over. Even after the ball is long gone.

The result?

A reliable, medium-to-hard cut, that’s a dependable shot under the gun. The lesson for you: Find a go-to shot that works, and forget how your swing looks. As long as you know where the ball is going, that’s all that matters.