Jimmy Walker on BodiTrak: How the PGA Champ uses the Ground

 

Above is the center of pressure trace for PGA Champion Jimmy Walker.  Walker ranks in the top 30 on TOUR in ball speed, a stat that belies his age and physique.  While younger players like Justin Thomas (ranked 24th in ball speed) or Keegan Bradley (ranked 40th) appear to have more explosive swings, Walker relies a long, but efficient swing.

Walker’s swing starts with a balanced and symmetrical address.  “His weight is 50-50,” Walker’s legendary instructor Butch Harmon told Golf Digest. “He’s not leaning one way or the other.”

Like most elite players, Walker does a tremendous job loading pressure into his trail leg on his backswing (you’ll notice he’s 80/20 into his right leg at 0:28 in the video).  He’s also able to do so without his hips “swaying” away from the target, a trait that requires a degree of hip mobility and stability that is uncommon in most amateurs (Dave Phillips of TPI also noted this ability in Jason Day when analyzing his “Body-Swing Connection”).

Pay attention to the trace on Walker’s downswing.  His center of pressure starts moving towards his lead foot just before the club starts on the downswing.  This is evidence of Walker putting pressure into the ground to “bump” his hips laterally towards the target before he begins to rotate (a move noted by Hank Haney in this swing analysis of Walker for Golf Digest).  Also, you’ll notice that there isn’t “back-up” in the trace on the downswing.  Back-up is when pressure quickly transfers from lead leg to trail leg before impact (Walker has some pressure transfer back to his trail leg, but it’s just at or after impact).  It’s a common element of a dynamic driver trace and something we see in many of golf’s big hitters, especially those with exaggerated vertical thrust (“jumping”) in the downswing.  One reason for the lack of back-up may be that Walker absorbs pressure in his bent left leg bent at impact.

“Most modern players have the front knee straight at impact, but Jimmy’s still has some bend,” Harmon says.

Another interesting thing to note is that because of Walker’s “hyper-mobility” he has a tendency to get loose at the top of his backswing.  This would be an interesting thing to consistently monitor on BodiTrak because any movement of the club at the top would be reflected in his interaction with the ground.

We love to see center of pressure data on BodiTrak because it gives us a window into the variety of successful techniques and intricacies of champion golfers.  As we always say, there are a number of ways to get it done.  Huge congrats to Jimmy and his team.