Golf, like most sports, needs its renegades – the players who do things differently. We’re talking about the mavericks, the disruptive geniuses, and the ones who go about their business with certain panache. Things would get a little boring without them.
RSNG has found seven golfers that tick one or two of those boxes. These are the types of individuals golf needs…
Wolff is the new kid on the block. The 20-year-old won the 3M Open in July in just his third professional start, but it’s his unconventional swing and mammoth drives that have got people talking.
‘His backswing is very unconventional, but his delivery position, a metre before impact, is great,’ says PGA Professional Paul Foston, who has has taken five players to European Tour victories and one to Ryder Cup success. ‘He’s so strong.’
Anyway, it’s not how your swing looks but how you score, right? Foston agrees. ‘I think he’ll go a long way. He has no fear. He just gives it a good rip.’ Seventh in driving distance on the PGA Tour, averaging just under 324 yards off the tee, would indeed suggest he does.
The American bears few similarities to the modern day pro – but you can’t argue that his unique approach isn’t effective.
‘The Mad Scientist’, 26, a five-time PGA Tour winner, plays with irons all cut to the same length. Views on his pace of play vary from methodical, to excruciatingly slow – especially when calculating air density. That said, he’s a fascinating individual.
‘He once asked his caddie, “How long do I need to swing for a 40-yard shot?” He doesn’t leave anything to chance, but he produces some bloody good golf shots,’ says Foston.
‘He works on a single plane. He gets his hands very high at address, so he’s trying to go up and down the same line, which isn’t orthodox, but he’s getting the results.’
Everyone loves the ‘Wild Thing’, except perhaps The R&A, who denied the injured two-time Major winner the use of a buggy at this year’s Open.
The 53-year-old has battled with drink, gambling and drugs over the years. The loud clothing, the meltdowns and that trademark cigarette that hangs from the corner of his mouth – they’re all part of the John Daly show.
‘He’s been through the mill,’ says Foston. ‘It’s just his mental attitude that lets him down at times. The way he dresses matches his personality. He’s an eccentric on and off the course.’
His personality isn’t the only aspect of Daly that intrigues us. He has an unusual swing; the first part of which you could say resembles the action of a 28-handicapper.
‘He has this long overswing, but when he’s playing well it’s so fluent,’ adds Foston. ‘He’s no gym guy but he generates great power. His sequencing is unbelievable.’
‘The way he dresses matches his personality – he’s an eccentric on and off the course’
Hull is a ‘no nonsense’ player; someone you imagine has little time for slow play and some of the stuffiness that still exists in areas of the game. Now a winner on both sides of the Atlantic, her ‘grip it and rip it’ attitude is refreshing to see.
England Women’s coach, Steve Robinson, worked with Hull when she was in the national squad from 2010 to 2012. ‘She had so much energy and a will to learn and get better at all aspects of her game,’ Robinson recalls.
‘She always played at speed, but she had a great golf IQ. I didn't tinker much with her swing. She only ever saw herself hitting great shots. Sometimes a coach needs to know when to stay out of the way.’
Former pro, Sophie Walker, who’s now a presenter on Sky Sports, compares the 23-year-old from Kettering to Paul Gascoigne - a ‘genius’ and a ‘maverick’ – but certainly not a troubled one.
‘The great thing about Charley is that she does things her own way and she doesn’t worry about what people say.’
What can you say about the 15-time Major winner that hasn’t already been said? He’s a trailblazer, a genius, a once-in-a-generation player who continues to rewrite the record books. His recent win in Japan saw him join the great Sam Snead on 82 PGA Tour victories.
‘What he’s done on the golf course is fantastic,’ says Foston. ‘Regardless of what he did off it, to come back, you have to take your hat off. Golf needs him because when he’s playing people watch.’
At the height of his powers, Woods transcended golf, and Foston doesn’t believe he’s finished yet. ‘He’s learnt to curtail his swing with his body. He’s had to change his technique. To do that on the back of all those surgeries is amazing.’
‘Golf needs him because when he’s playing people watch’
Miguel Ángel Jiménez
Miguel Ángel Jiménez is one of a dying breed. If he wants a large glass of Rioja, he has one. The same applies with expensive cigars and even more expensive cars.
Whereas Daly’s lifestyle seems to have caught up with him, Jiménez – who sits tenth on the European Tour’s winners list with 21 victories – is still raking in the cash on the Champions Tour.
Foston also describes the 55-year-old as someone who’s ‘let’s his clubs do the talking’. However, he’s no shrinking violet, either. Just ask Keegan Bradley, who felt the Spaniard’s wrath during a tournament several years ago during when the pair were involved in a heated discussion over a drop.
As for those elaborate exercises... don’t ever change, Miguel.
So Yeon Ryu
As a child, Ryu had a rebellious streak, which would often test her parents’ patience. Someone who’s keen to make her own decisions and do things her way, this is reflected in the way she plays. ‘She has the Korean mentality of perfection but she can put things into perspective well,’ says Walker.
In 2011, Ryu won the first of her two Majors, the U.S. Open. Further success has followed, during which time the 29-year-old has broken the ‘Korean Mould’.
‘Korean golfers can keep themselves to themselves,’ adds Walker. ‘Ryu is happy to talk about the stuff that people don’t want to talk about, like struggling mentally, and openly about how she gets nervous down the stretch.’
Learn how to perform under pressure with RSNG’s golfing head game hacks from leading performance coach, Karl Morris.
- Paul Foston has taken five players to European Tour victories and one to Ryder Cup success. To learn more about his Academy of Excellence in Ashford, Kent, visit his website*