Hideki Matsuyama’s swing is identifiable from any angle.
The noticeable pause at the top of his backswing is something that you rarely see. And yet, when he first burst onto the scene in 2012, he looked as good as any other young emerging talent.
So when I heard that he was trying to speed up the pause, I thought it was an odd decision. Why change something that is clearly a natural movement in your swing?
It turns out, the move was never natural in the first place.
The 29 year old said he implemented the pause because he had a tendency to speed us his backswing, thus throwing out his rhythm. The pause was to remind him to swing slower on the way back, and increase the speed in his transition. And from 2012 to 2017, it worked like a charm.
Matsuyama, below, managed to rack up five PGA Tour wins, including a WGC at the Bridgestone Invitational in 2017. He also won eight times in his native country of Japan, no easy feat considering the depth of talent that can be found throughout the Asian professional circuit.
Regardless of his four year winless streak, Matsuyama has been heralded as one of the best iron players in the world. Since 2014, he has been inside the top 10 for strokes gained with his approach play. The only year he's been outside the top 10 is 2021, likely because of the slight swing change.
It may come as a shock, but his ferocious speed isn't the only thing he does well. There's one aspect of his swing that every amateur should copy if they want to improve their iron play.
He covers the ball at impact. As you can see, below, his head is directly over the ball, and his right shoulder is driving down into the turf. The steeper angle of attack helps to compress the ball.
Matsuyama has a huge transfer of weight into his right side during the backswing, but he transitions back to his left side perfectly. Amateurs often move off the ball and stay there, hitting turf before ball. If you want to be a good iron player, cover the ball with the upper body and get steep with your irons.
The man from Matsuyama (and yes..his home city is also called Matsuyama) is the first Japanese player to win a major in the men's game, so his swing might be worth copying.