How can a willowy teen blast tee shots 30 yards farther than battle-hardened LPGA pros—and even a handful of PGA Tour players? That's what SI asked Mitchell Spearman, the director of instruction at Manhattan Woods Golf Club in West Nyack, N.Y., and one of Golf Magazine's Top 100 Teachers. Spearman, who has worked with Nick Faldo, Colin Montgomerie, Greg Norman and Curtis Strange, among others, spent an hour with Michelle Wie and her coach, Gary Gilchrist (a former colleague of Spearman's), on June 24 as Wie prepared for the ShopRite LPGA Classic in New Jersey. Here's Spearman's analysis of Wie's preternatural power, plus the one swing flaw he thinks she needs to eliminate.
Michelle's downswing reveals the source of her tremendous power. She stores up energy with substantial lag—the angle between wrists and shaft—and great arm extension, and she sustains these perfect positions until just before impact.
Playing in Hawaii's trade winds has made Michelle prone to leaning into the shot, which can bring about her nemesis—a hook. Above, her head has dipped, her left arm is bent a little too much, and her right arm glances against her body.
No 13-year-old girl or boy before her has ever swung as well as Michelle. Notice her consistency—the backswing and follow-through are mirror images. At the finish she has fully released her right side, yet she's still stable as a rock.