Though Rory McIlroy missed the cut at the 2016 U.S. Open Championship and dropped to number 4 in the Official World Golf Ranking (replaced at number 3 by Open winner Dustin Johnson), don’t expect wholesale changes. Throughout his career McIlroy has resisted changing his golf swing. That’s a good philosophy for everyday golfers, especially if you have a swing that has served you well, but you hit a bad stretch.
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” McIlroy has said repeatedly. “That’s my motto. I’ve always been that way. I feel like the work that I’ve put into my golf swing from sort of the age of 15-20 is going to see me sort of throughout my career. There’s no reason why I should look to try and swing the club differently. I have a golf swing that can go off from time to time, but I know the parameters of it and I know how to get it back on track,” McIlroy said.
Rather than make big swing changes, McIlroy concentrates on his considerable assets. “You’re not going to be great at everything,” McIlroy says. “I think what a lot of guys do, which is understandable, is they really try to strengthen their weaknesses. And then they neglect their strengths, and even if the weaknesses get a little better, the strengths aren’t as strong. The foundation of my game is my driving. When I drive the ball well, I win golf tournaments. So I’ll always work on the driver.”
McIlroy explains, “Driving played a big role in 2012 when I won (the PGA Championship) and few others, but I feel I’m a better driver now. I’m not as one-dimensional. I can hit the ball both ways. I can flight it down. I can flight it up. I’m a little more confident with it. My lines are tighter, and it doesn’t have the ability to have these big misses, which is very important.”
Since getting stronger and more flexible through a dedicated fitness regimen the last several years, McIlroy says, “My swing has lost its whippy sort of action that came from a lot of arm and hand speed,” he says. “Now it’s more the big muscles controlling rotation, and that’s the energy that’s going into the ball.”
After winning the 2016 Irish Open, McIlroy seemed to be coming into the U.S Open with positive momentum. He came to Oakmont, the site of the 2016 U.S. Open, early for several practice rounds, but rain softened the course conditions for the opening round of the championship. “I found it really difficult to adjust to the greens,” McIlroy said after finishing his first round. “They were 14 (on the green-speed-measuring device for his practice rounds), and now they’re 11 or so. It’s the same for everyone.”
As McIlroy prepares for this season’s remaining big events, don’t expect him to make big changes. He’ll keep working on his strengths. You shouldn’t look to make big changes either if you’re struggling. Try Rory’s approach. Work on your strengths, too. While you’re at it, pay attention to your fundamentals: grip, posture, alignment and ball position. You just may find the answer without overhauling your whole swing.