If you want to learn to swing a club like Jon Rahm, currently the best golfer in the world no matter what the rankings say, forget it. He’s an actual accident of birth.
Rahm’s famous power from a short backswing stems from necessity – he was born with a club foot that was straightened as an infant, and has reduced mobility in his right ankle.
To compensate he bows his wrist – ‘in every sport I do’ – and thereby generates the awesome power that defines his game.
‘Just swing your swing’
You shouldn’t try to copy him, he says, because you won’t have the same body he has.
“It’s what works for me,” he said. “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.”
They started correcting Rahm’s club foot 20 minutes after he was born, he explained.
“When I was born, they basically broke every bone in the ankle and I was casted within 20 minutes of being born.
“I think every week I had to go back to the hospital to get recasted, 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 centimetre and a half shorter, as well.
“I don’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.”
The bowed wrist compensates for the ankle
But, he found from doing tests, that deficiency was counteracted by a physical advantage he has.
“I’ve learned since my wrists are hypermobile one way,” he said. “That’s why I also naturally turn to bow my wrist to create power.
“So that’s why I swing the way I do. It’s little things that I think a lot of people can learn. Let your body dictate how you can swing.
“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.”
Rahm has excelled on links before – oddly mostly in Ireland, although he played well at the Scottish Open at the weekend – and has prior knowledge of Sandwich, having played here in the Boys Championship of 2009, when he reached the last 16.
“The course hasn’t changed, but I’ve changed quite a bit,” he said. “It’ll be a different experience.
“That British Boys was my first-ever tournament in links golf, so I’ve got some fond memories from the area.”
Rahm bidding for major championship history
He’s also excited to bid to join a very small club of Open and US Open winners in the same year, currently occupied by Bobby Jones (1926, 1930), Ben Hogan (1953), Lee Trevino (1971), Tom Watson (1982) and Tiger Woods (2000).
“I’m usually pretty good in golf history. I know Tiger has done it. Might have been maybe Ben Hogan has done it, too, and not many more.
“You do have a sense of relief after winning the first major. I felt like for the better part of five years, all I heard is major, major, major, as if it was easy.
“I found that doesn’t really change. There’s still the next one to win, so I still come with the same level of excitement obviously and willingness to win.
“It would be pretty incredible to be able to win The Open. Nobody after Seve has been able to do it. To give that to Spain, that would be pretty unique, as well.”