Golf Magazine coverstar and Mark Blackburn pupil, Kevin Chappell, broke through for the first win of his career on Sunday at the Valero Texas Open. While he might not be a household name yet, Chappell has been a near-ubiquitous presence around the top of leaderboards over the last two years, rising from 152nd in 2015 to a career-best 23rd in the world today.
In a recent piece with Golf Digest, Chappell discussed his favorite keys for solid ball-striking, including thoughts on pressure transfer. Chappell has worked with BodiTrak advisor Mark Blackburn since the 2012 U.S. Open. The two have been among the earliest adopters of BodiTrak technology so it’s no surprise that he’s well-versed in keys to ground interaction.
Blackburn took the opportunity to use our newly released BODITRAK DASH app on the range at the Zurich Classic to capture Chappell’s swing. Here are a few of the key positions with corresponding pressure distribution and commentary of his swing.
It appears that Chappell slightly favors his trail heel at address. One of the reasons his pressure is in his heels is because he can tend to get a little toe-heavy in his swing. Chappell and Blackburn used BodiTrak to establish a set up that helps minimize this. Additionally, if we were to view a video of Chappell’s trace, we’d notice that he uses his front foot as a trigger to start the swing, evidenced by the COP moving slightly toward the front foot (~54%) before loading into the trail foot. This is a characteristic of many powerful hitters.
Since center of pressure is the average of all pressure points between your feet and the ground at any given time, COP is unlikely to vary widely between golfers at address (because both feet are firmly planted). It would be uncommon to see a golfer with less than 40% pressure on either their lead or trail foot. However, technology like BodiTrak can offer powerful biofeedback for golfers in this position. Real can be very different than feel, especially at address. Obviously, it’s important for a golfer to feel comfortable and athletic in their set up posture, but instructors are able to use COP data to help cue necessary changes more effectively.
When Chappell’s lead arm is parallel to the ground in the backswing, he has max pressure in his trail leg (roughly 85%). That’s a characteristic that’s extremely common in elite ball-strikers.
Chappell told Golf Digest that he tries to shift into his right heel to load his upper body over a stable lower body. He also notes that he focuses on the glutes – not his torso – to feel loaded.
As I take the club back, I feel weight shifting into the inside portion of my right foot, by the heel. Also, and this is the key, I can feel the glute muscles on the right side of my butt contracting. If you lift weights, it kind of feels like a deadlift. I keep turning until those glutes are fully loaded. Doesn’t matter how much the torso rotates or where the clubhead is. Don’t worry about that. Your backswing ends when the glutes are fully loaded. Now you’re ready to go.
Once again, Chappell’s achieves a key position in his downswing. When his lead arm is parallel with the ground in the downswing, Chappell has maximum pressure on his lead side (86%).
“One of Kevin’s key moves is his dynamic transition into the downswing. His lower body moves toward the target while his upper body stays stable,” noted Mark Blackburn for Golf Digest. “He’s pivoting forward without making a huge slide.
Chappell told Golf Digest that his goal is to transfer pressure quickly and efficiently so that he can focus on releasing his hands.
Get the transition into the downswing right, and you can go as hard as you want at the ball. As your backswing ends, make a lateral shift with your lower body toward the target. Feel your weight move into the heel of your left foot. Footwork is important. Without lurching out of your posture, push into the ground. Feel planted and then just let the club fire through the ball. Simple, right? A great cadence to remember is “load and go.”
Chappell’s pressure distribution at impact is right within the range that we see among elite ball-strikers. Most elite ball-strikers get at least 80% of the pressure into their lead leg at impact with an iron. However, driver swings often show more variability from player to player due to the fact that some players have extremely dynamic footwork. Unlike the driver swing of many big hitters, you’ll notice that Chappell’s pressure trace doesn’t move towards his trail side on the downswing.
Like all swings on the PGA TOUR, Chappell’s is uniquely his. His team helped build a swing that he’s comfortable with and one that suits his physical capabilities. Hopefully this analysis and data offers a unique look at what you don’t see on TV from one of the game’s best. For more information on the BODITRAK DASH & DASHBOARD, visit the Golf page on our site.