Rickie Fowler details the swing adjustments that have led to his resurgence
It’s been a helluva comeback season for Rickie Fowler this year, with the 34-year-old capturing his first PGA Tour victory in nearly four and a half years at the Rocket Mortgage Classic.
While everyone in the golf world seems genuinely happy for what Fowler’s doing, the player himself is handing out credit where it’s due, understanding that his recent turnaround is not all on him.
Look no further than his winner’s press conference from the Rocker Mortgage Classic, where Fowler praised his coach (the legendary Butch Harmon), and discussed what makes Harmon so different.
“He’s the best golf coach out there,” Fowler said. “He does a great job with players, taking what they have and, ultimately, making them the best that they can be with who they are and how they swing and making what they do well that much better and bring up the weaknesses.”
How Harmon adjusted Fowler’s swing
With eight top-10s this season, Fowler’s comeback has been a culmination of hard work, dedication and perseverance. Whether he’ll admit to ever losing confidence or not, he never lost that competitive drive — which is what helped lead him to Harmon in the first place.
During a recent interview with his buddy Smylie Kaufman on The Smylie Show, Fowler broke down some swing adjustments that Harmon began to implement, which, in turn, completely changed Fowler’s game.
“I mean, the biggest step was when I got a little time to talk with Butch and start working on some stuff before Napa (Fortinet Championship),” Fowler said.
“And I went out to Napa feeling, I wouldn’t say uncomfortable, but I didn’t feel comfortable with where the swing was and how it felt, because it was pretty foreign and new. And I just went there and continued to trust and exaggerate as much as I could while actually playing.”
As Fowler approached the tournament in Napa (the Fortinet Championship), he admitted to Kaufman about how difficult it was to adjust to the new swing.
“It’s one thing what you can do and exaggerate on the range, but when you’re actually out on the course it’s a little harder to exaggerate,” he adds. “So that week, seeing the shots I was able to produce, how tight the lines were.
“I think that was obviously the first big step was seeing kind of some results and feedback to mentally help myself kind of build some confidence, momentum and then went from there.”
So what did Harmon do to help clean up Fowler’s swing? It started with the takeaway.
“Some different feels here or there but, ultimately, cleaning up the takeaway to that kind of first parallel,” he said. “My tendency is [that] the club gets outside the hands. So from there, it’s hard to keep the club out in front of you and have it in a good position at the top. A lot of times for me, it would be outside and then tip over as far as getting laid off.”
This old swing would leave Fowler feeling behind, which was an area that he felt comfortable in because it was the way he had always swung. But Harmon helped Fowler get into a steeper angle, which, ultimately, led to better results.
“Getting into a steeper left arm plane and the club being closer to down the line at the top, you know, that felt very up and across the line.”
Putting the new swing to the test in Napa was tough mentally for Fowler, but he said he didn’t waver on trusting the new approach.
“Those ones with any hazards or OBs nearby, it was like, OK, you’re going to trust this. You’re aiming here hitting this shot, it’s going to feel like I’m taking it back and we’re going way out right, but we’re just going to trust this, and just swing and let it go.”
You can see some of the adjustments Fowler made in the video below.
While Harmon helped Fowler get his swing back on plane and restore his confidence, in the end, the player was the one who went out and executed the shots. It’s a great reminder that the synergy between the teacher and student can make all the difference, and that building trust to see results can lead to lower scores.