Middle-aged, pony-tailed, pot-bellied, cigar-smoking, Ferrari-collecting Miguel Angel Jimenez is golf’s version of “The Most Interesting Man in the World.” The Spanish pro is beloved by galleries and embraced by his peers.
He’s also one heck of a player. On the verge of his 50th birthday at this writing (early 2014), Jimenez, aka “The Mechanic,” has done just about everything in golf except win a major. And it won’t be a shock if he becomes the oldest golfer ever to accomplish that feat.
Jimenez counts 20 European Tour titles to his credit and has played a vital role in Europe’s Ryder Cup dominance. Among his endearing idiosyncrasies is a pre-round stretching routine that often draws snickers, but works like a charm. Naturally, he conducts the elaborate warm-up with a stogie in his mouth.
As for Jimenez’s golf swing, it’s certainly not the prettiest move out there. But it is among the most effective. And like his stretching exercise, it’s fairly easy for the average golfer to emulate. Let’s have a look.
Jimenez’s signature: Big shoulder turn with unrestricted hip rotation.
What it looks like: So, Jimenez strays from modern swing principles – go figure. We’re referring to his huge hip rotation on the backswing, which defies the concept of restricting the hips in order to create maximum coil between the upper and lower bodies.
Why it works for Jimenez: Certainly, Jimenez’s full-body rotation helps explain his lack of world-class power; he averages about 275 yards off the tee. But it keeps his swing relaxed and natural. Jimenez works hard to maintain synchronicity between his big muscles and his arms and hands, preventing the latter from becoming overly active. The absence of torque may help preserve his aging spine, too.
Another small oddity in Jimenez’s swing: the position of his right elbow at the top. The right arm is well behind his body, his biceps almost touching his side. The angle between upper and lower arms is approximately 45° – a far cry from the classic ideal of 90°. Then again, Ben Hogan exhibited a similar right elbow position, and it worked OK for him.
How it can work for you: Sad but true: Not every golfer has the flexibility and core strength to restrict their hip turn while still making a full shoulder turn. If that’s you, it’s better to turn those shoulders as far as possible and let the hips do what they will.
And consider that while Jimenez is a short knocker by tour standards, most of us would gladly take a 275-yard driving average. It’s all relative, right?
Emulating Jimenez’s full-body turn means setting up tension-free and paying close attention to your balance. You can easily tilt too far right on the backswing, so focus on keeping weight on the inside of your right foot.
Jimenez’s pre-round drills include swinging two clubs. This not only gets him warmed-up and limber, it reinforces the sense of using arms, hands and big muscles in unison. Before each round – and between shots if needed – grab a couple of mid-irons, hold them together at the grip, and make a series of easy swings. Then do the same thing left-handed to give both sides equal work.
Many golfers would benefit from adopting Jimenez’s relaxed, in-sync swing… If not his expensive habits.