Sometimes, talented young golfers turn pro too early and flame out. Other times, it just takes them a while to find their footing and fulfill their potential.
Justin Rose has lived both ends of the spectrum.
Fresh off a fourth-place finish at the 1998 Open Championship at age 17, the Englishman joined the European Tour. Twenty-one consecutive missed cuts later, it appeared he’d made a big mistake. But Rose hung tough, breaking through with a pair of wins in 2002. He steadily climbed the world rankings over the next 10 seasons, winning a handful of PGA Tour events and establishing himself as one of the game’s most consistent players.
Rose took the next step by winning the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion. His first major victory vaulted Rose to No. 3 worldwide and showed the value of patience. A little talent helps, too. Make that a lot of talent.
Rose has been through several teachers along the way. Early on he worked with David Leadbetter as well as his father, Ken, who passed away in 2002. In 2006 Rose hired Nick Bradley before jumping to an upstart named Sean Foley in 2009. (Foley’s fame would skyrocket the next year when he became Tiger Woods’ coach.)
No matter who has coached him, Rose’s swing has always reflected a devotion to fundamentals every golfer would be wise to emulate.
Rose’s signature: He maintains the flex in his right knee throughout the backswing.
What it looks like: In all honesty, Rose displays any number of fundamentally pure moves that could be considered his signature. We chose to focus on his right knee because so many amateurs struggle with this seemingly simple concept.
With his knees flexed in an athletic address position, Rose shows excellent balance. As his hips rotate, the right knee stays bent rather than straightening. At the top of the swing, he’s loaded a majority of his weight onto the right side without tipping onto the outer edge of his right foot. In fact, the inner foot bears most of this burden as Rose remains centered over the ball – and coiled for a powerful downswing.
Why it works for Rose: In conjunction with his excellent fundamentals, Rose’s consistent knee flex allows him to remain beautifully balanced with his posture intact. It also enables his hips to turn with great speed into the shot.
How it can work for you: If the right leg straightens as you turn away from the ball, the hips are restricted and you lose power. Same thing if the knee buckles outward and your right instep comes off the ground.
If you struggle to use the knees properly during the swing, here’s a video tip that will help straighten things out… so to speak: