Rarely in professional sports, particularly on the eve of one of the biggest events of the year, do you get the kind of raw revelation that Jon Rahm dropped on Tuesday morning at Royal St. George’s prior to the British Open.
If you’re a fan of golf and pay attention to players’ technique, you may have noticed that Rahm, the 26-year-old Spaniard, has a rather shortened, compact swing.
Rahm’s swing has never been revered by experts as the most aesthetically pleasing and fluid as the likes of Adam Scott, Rory McIlroy and Ernie Els.
Despite Rahm’s bulky build, he also is curiously not known as one of the longest bombers off the tee.
As it turns out, there’s a reason for that.
“I’m tired of hearing that the reason why I have a short swing is that I have tight hips or other things,‘’ Rahm said. “If you know anything about golf, that is the stupidest thing to say. So, for people that don’t know, I was born with a club foot on my right leg, which means for anybody that’s sensitive about that, my right leg up to the ankle was straight, my foot was 90 degrees turned inside and basically upside down.
“So, when I was born, they basically relocated, pretty much broke every bone in the ankle and I was casted within 20 minutes of being born from the knee down. I think every week I had to go back to the hospital to get re-casted, so from knee down my leg didn’t grow at the same rate. So, I have very limited ankle mobility in my right leg. It’s a centimeter and a half shorter, as well.
“What I mean by limitations is I didn’t take a full swing because my right ankle doesn’t have the mobility or stability to take it. So, I learned at a very young age that I’m going to be more efficient at creating power and be consistent from a short swing. If I take a full to parallel, it might create more speed, but I have no stability. My ankle just can’t take it. The main thing is my right foot. It’s just that ankle does not move much.‘’
Rahm went on to say that, he has a certain “hypermobile’’ way about wrists that give him added strength in his short swing.
“I bow my wrist and that’s how I hit it,‘’ he said. “It’s little things that I think a lot of people can learn. Let your body dictate how you can swing. Simple as that.‘’
Rahm, with this revelation, unwittingly provided a massive boost of inspiration for many people who’ve been born with the same condition.
This is a player who’s fresh off winning the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines last month — his first career major championship — who is the No. 2 ranked player in the world, and a favorite to win the British Open this week.
“It’s what works for me,‘’ Rahm said of his swing. “I think it’s the biggest lesson I can give any young player. Don’t try to copy me. Don’t try to copy any swing out there. Just swing your swing. Do what you can do. That’s the best thing for yourself.
“I used to not be a good ball striker. Terrible. And slowly, once I started learning in college, I became a good ball striker. Learn from your body. Your body is going to tell you what it can and can’t do. Some things you can improve, some things you can’t. In my case, the right ankle is not going to move any more than it can right now, so that’s the beauty of that.
“I have the swing I have, and I’ve gotten more mobile and stronger in some parts of my swing so that might slightly change it, but I have certain unique parts and certain unique, let’s say, physical limitations that let me swing the way I swing, and I don’t deviate from that,‘’ he continued.
“I’ve been able to slowly improve my game with what I have and learn how to hit different shots without having to change my swing keys, and I think that is one of the keys to why I’m consistent. I don’t change it. I play with what I have and try to improve from what I have.‘’
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