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How Pepperell’s passive clubface helps him shoot lower scores

Elite coach Dan Whittaker on what you can learn from British Masters champion Eddie Pepperell
 

People talk about courses becoming obsolete but an old classic like Walton Heath produced a winner with Eddie Pepperell at 9 under while Marc Leishman won at 26 under in Malaysia.

No one lit it up in Surrey – the best round of the week was 67 which is pretty much unheard of. I watched a lot of the golf from Walton Heath purely because of the course, and the ball was running a long way before the rain came but because it was a tight course one negated the other.

If you ended up one foot off the fairway then you might be hacking out of the heather. It was a golf purists’ way of watching a tournament. Nobody wants to see the players struggle for par on every hole but we do like to see good shots rewarded off the tee.

It was great to see Pepperell win again for a second time this season. I watched him in the Sky Zone and he works on having a passive clubface which is very contrasting to Leishman. The Aussie is quite old school, quiet hands and armsy, and is almost like the modern-day Ernie Els in the effortless rhythm in which he hits the ball.

He still moves the ball round quite a bit and mixes up his trajectories.

Marc Leishman

Pepperell talked about two drills that he works on. One is where he starts the club outside the ball with the ball inside the heel of the club, then, to hit a fade, he wants to hit from the inside with his arms closer to his body on the way down. So he has to do that with passive hands. This also helps him to maintain a good posture.

The other, which he does as his pre-shot drill on the course, is having his left hand palm down which encourages the chest and sternum to get more on top of the ball – imagine if the left palm was outside the right foot pointing downwards he would be trapped underneath it.

If he gets the left palm on top of left foot, with the chest rotating, then it is easier to turn through the shot.

Last year he talked a lot on getting his takeaway in the right position and working on the first two feet of the swing. With Pepperell on the way down he is trying to get the club fairly neutral and then just unwind with the body, he doesn’t want to see any hand action through the ball.

Another big change has been switching from his TaylorMade driver. He moved to a Titleist model as that suited his swing more – he hits down on the driver so he needed a lot more backspin. The TaylorMade driver doesn’t spin enough for him, some players like to see some shape on their drives and so he now uses the Ping G400. (I’m not saying this is a spinny head but Ping have traditionally been more spinny.)

Pepperell relies a lot on his 3-wood but that wasn’t as strong as normal but his driver was great. His technique seems to have improved as well but he looks a lot more comfortable with having more spin in his driver.

Not everyone hits it like a Dustin Johnson or Brooks Koepka, the TaylorMade is perfect for them but some players, like Pepperell, prefer to squeeze one out there.

If you play a driver that doesn’t have much spin and is low launching and your standard thing is low trajectory and low spin then you will need a driver at 13- or 14-degrees, which is why Pepperell is better with a 3-wood. So, like a lot of things in Pepperell’s game, his choice of driver makes a lot of sense.

Dan Whittaker is an elite golf swing and performance coach based at High Legh. For more information, visit his website.

Tom Irwin

Tom Irwin

Tom is a lifetime golfer, now over 30 years playing the game. 2023 marks 10 years in golf publishing and he is still holding down a + handicap at Alwoodley in Leeds. He has played over 600 golf courses, and has been a member of at least four including his first love Louth, in Lincolnshire. Tom likes unbranded clothing, natural fibres, and pencil bags. Seacroft in Lincolnshire is where it starts and ends.

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