What is David Leadbetter's A-Swing method, and will it improve your golf game?

A-Swing method
Image: Wojciech Migda/CC-BY-SA-3.0

Golf swing methods can sometimes resemble fad diets — they crop up from respected teachers, gain momentum among some Tour pros and a handful of amateurs, but eventually fizzle out.

So it's understandable to feel compelled to roll your eyes at David Leadbetter's new A-Swing method. But do so at your own peril; after all, Leadbetter has been one of the top instructors for a generation now, and his pupils include LPGA Tour phenom Lydia Ko. You'd be crazy not to want to swing a golf club as well as she does.

Leadbetter's approach is certainly non-traditional; the "A" in A-Swing even stands for "alternative." We asked our own Golf Academy of America PGA professionals to help break down the key ways in which the A-Swing differs from conventional golf swing theory.

Here's how they break it down:

The Setup

This is perhaps the part of the A-Swing that differs least from conventional methods. Still, there are subtle departures from the norm. For example, Leadbetter encourages a slightly weaker lower handgrip and a stronger upper hand than usual. Also, Leadbetter recommends a slightly closed stance at address, which is said to help the player execute the method's backswing more comfortably.

The Backswing

This is where the A-Swing diverges quite noticeably from what most golf instructors preach. Whereas conventional swings tend to create a wide arc where the clubhead moves far away from the ball, the A-Swing is a bit more compact, with Leadbetter encouraging A-Swingers to keep their hands close to their bodies and to keep the clubhead outside the plane. Once the player reaches the top of the backswing, the club will be somewhat "across the line," which Leadbetter asserts is A-okay. This may sound familiar if you happen to have seen the unconventional, abrupt and vertical backswing of Ryan Moore on the PGA Tour.

The Downswing

Most teachers advocate for a two-plane swing, but because of the steepness of the backswing, the A-Swing demands a more significant re-routing of the club than most. According to Leadbetter, this requires no real manipulation of the club, as the unwinding of the player's body will deliver the club to the ball on the proper plane and, ideally, produce a slight draw on full shots.

It's no doubt that there are an abundance of trends when it comes to golf swing methods, and it's hard not to get bogged down with all the information out there. Whether you prefer traditional approaches or love to jump into new methods headfirst, A-Swing is a trend that is worth looking into, because it will likely be around for the long haul.

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