Inside My Swing: Max Homa – PGA TOUR

November 18, 2022
November 18, 2022 admin

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The transformation of Max Homa’s swing didn’t start on a pristine driving range with pyramids of brand-new balls. A tiny hotel gym in suburban New York is where it began.
A poor performance in the U.S. Open was the impetus for the change. After winning his first TOUR title in 2019 and seeing some strong results in early 2020, Homa was frustrated by the struggles that followed, culminating with his personal Massacre at Winged Foot. He finished 14 over par, beating barely a dozen players, en route to missing the cut in the 2020 U.S. Open.
Homa has been open over the years about his journey to improving his mental health and building his self-belief. He has struggled with impostor syndrome, and for too long he’d been trying to emulate the best players in the world. Now he wanted to find out what worked for him. He made the difficult decision to part ways with his childhood swing coach and connect with Mark Blackburn, the PGA of America’s 2020 Teacher and Coach of the Year.
With the weekend free and and Homa far from home, he and Blackburn met in the gym of the Westchester Marriott for a physical evaluation. Blackburn wanted to analyze Homa’s movement patterns to build a swing that was tailored to his body. A few weeks later, Homa traveled to Birmingham, Alabama, for long, uninterrupted practice sessions at Blackburn’s studio that often stretched past sunset with temperatures in the 50s.
Blackburn appreciated his student’s desire to understand the reasons behind the changes instead of simply following directions. It showed Homa’s inquisitive side.
“He’s very cerebral. He asks good questions,” Blackburn said. “Some guys don’t care. They say, ‘Just show me.’ He needs to know the why.”
This edition of Inside My Swing will explain the ‘why’ of the swing changes that led to two TOUR wins in Homa’s home state of California last year. That includes an emotional victory in Tiger Woods’ Genesis Invitational, a tournament he’s been attending since he was a kid. Inside My Swing is an occasional franchise on PGATOUR.COM where PGA TOUR players share what they’re working on and how they keep their game performing at an elite level.

Before he began working with Blackburn, Homa tried to get his hands high in the backswing. About halfway through his backswing, Homa’s hands would begin moving upward instead of continuing along the plane.
Many of the game’s great iron players – think Jack Nicklaus, early-2000s Tiger Woods and Justin Thomas – have high hands at the top of the backswing because it helps them hit the high long-irons that can separate them from their peers. That move doesn’t work for Homa, however.
A lack of mobility in his shoulders makes it hard for him to lift his arms over his head. His body has to make adjustments and compensations to get in that position.
“My golf swing would go up, and when it did I would lose my balance,” Homa said. “If my arms get high in my backswing, my hips lose range of motion and can’t turn very much.”
As his arms moved up, his tailbone would move toward the golf ball and he would lose the posture he had at address. His club would also get ‘across the line,’ i.e. pointing farther to the right at the top of his backswing.
“After we met at the U.S. Open, I said, ‘Max, you want to have these big high hands. Your body doesn’t want to do that. We need to get your left arm more across your shoulders,’” Blackburn said. “We worked on creating more depth and turn in his golf swing. The sweet spot and mass of the club are more behind him now at the top of his swing.”
Homa’s backswing is flatter, so his hands are lower at the top and the club now points left of the target in a more ‘laid off’ position.
“I’m swinging a swing that is built more for me,” Homa said. “I don’t feel like I’m fighting my own body anymore.”
Homa’s old backswing forced him to make compensations in his downswing that led to inconsistency. He had to ‘flip’ the club to square it at impact, which led to a lot of face rotation and made it difficult to control his trajectory. Low, controlled wedge shots were especially difficult.
“He would get steep early,” Blackburn said about Homa’s transition. “The butt of the club would point at his shoes. From there, he would have to shallow the club late in the downswing, the club would get behind him and he’d have to flip it.
“Now, the butt of the club works more toward the horizon in his downswing and it shallows early. He’s trying to dump the club out, imagine he’s throwing it behind him. Then he can square the face through the rotation of his body. If he did that before, he’d hit low pulls.”
With the club now approaching the ball from the inside, Homa’s trajectory with his irons has changed to a draw. The clubface also is slightly closed when it reaches hip-high on the downswing. That means it doesn’t have to rotate as much to get square at impact.
“It just feels like I’m making two big turns,” Homa said of his swing. “If you watch the best ball-strikers in the world, typically they have very little face rotation. I know I’m swinging well when the ball is starting just right of my target and drawing back, because that means I’m getting the club behind me appropriately and then I can just turn through impact.”

A classic drill helps Homa better feel a connection between his arms and body. Sticking a towel under his armpits keeps his hands from getting too high in his backswing. The towel will fall out if he falls into this old pattern.
“It helps me get a good feel for turning on the backswing,” Homa said. “I can feel where my arms are supposed to go, and I can feel my big muscles taking the club back and through. Everybody’s different, but for me, my right shoulder feels like it’s kind of pulling me through impact.”
Homa makes partial swings with this drill, hitting punch shots with a slight draw, to increase the feeling of his arms and body moving in unison. A shorter swing keeps his arms from running off and swinging on their own, instead of moving with the turn of his body.

Riviera County Club is one of the courses coined “Hogan’s Alley” because of the golf legend’s success there. Hogan was known for his robotic ball-striking, so that moniker can make players believe Riviera demands similar precision.
Homa, who grew up idolizing Tiger Woods and Kobe Bryant, admits to being a perfectionist, but that can cause him to be too hard on himself, too unforgiving of his mistakes. That’s why Blackburn introduced the mantra, “Position over perfection,” in the days leading up to last year’s Genesis Invitational. It’s similar to the old saying that there’s no pictures on the scorecard.
“The perfectionist side drives him, but sometimes it can cause him to not be as accommodating or accepting,” Blackburn said. The coach’s goal was to keep Homa from getting down on himself after the inevitable mishit.
As Homa recalled, Blackburn said, “I know you’re a perfectionist. I noticed your body language at times gets a little down. I want you to have great body language, walk tall and proud. I don’t care how you hit the golf shot. If we leave it in the right spot, that’s the gameplan. Who cares if you didn’t flush it? Who cares if it was off the heel? Who cares if it wasn’t perfect? We are going to play chess and always be in the right spot.”
It paid off, with a win in front of Homa’s hero at the tournament he’d been dreaming about winning since he was a kid.
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