The inaugural Augusta National Women’s Amateur has its first champion: Jennifer Kupcho. The powerful senior at Wake Forest, ranked No. 1 in the latest World Amateur Golf Ranking, shot five-under 67 at Augusta National in the final round to win by four strokes over Maria Fassi. And if you watch Kupcho’s swing, you can see why she walked away with the trophy. We talked to Jason Guss, named one of Golf Digest’s best teachers in the state of Michigan, and asked him to pick the three best things from her swing that amateurs can learn from.
“It’s hard to just pick three,” Guss said. “There’s so much good stuff in there. It’s the perfect mix of power and control.”
When forced to narrow it down, Guss started with Kupcho’s turn back.
“The first thing that I love about her golf swing is in the backswing, she does all the things to create big turn,” Guss explains. “She changes the flex in her knees, giving her hips the freedom to turn. She’s extending her spine a bit to allow shoulders to turn in a bigger circle. All of that lets her hands get really deep in the back swing.”
All of these moves are a signal for the same thing: generating power. But where Kupcho’s swing gets even better is at the top, where she doesn’t let the big turn get too big.
“The second thing about her swing is that she still has the ability to stop her hands at parallel,” Guss says. “She creates great length and power and keeps it at parallel or shorter. This is control.”
There’s no point in making a big turn and generating all the power that comes with it if you’re not able to control it. Keeping the backswing in check allows Kupcho to repeatedly return the clubface to square at impact more easily.
“The last thing I’d pick is that her body and eyes are rotating through, but her side bend is maintained, instead of pulling her chest up and away,” Guss says.
You can see what Guss is talking about in the image below. Kupcho’s body has released, but her right shoulder is still down and you can see the curve in her side.
“The benefit of doing this is that you create good contact with the ground and it’s a great move to stabilize the clubface through impact,” Guss says. “If you pull your body away, the right arm straightens and the face will flip over. It’s a great lesson in that she stayed down, but she didn’t keep her head down. It’s important for amateurs to not confuse the two.”