The need for speed: How Tringale found success after swinging faster
September 24, 2019
By Sean Martin , PGATOUR.COM
Swing speed instructional with Cameron Tringale
Cameron Tringale was accustomed to the assumption from his pro-am partners.
“You’re a big guy. You must be a big hitter,” they’d say.
He always had to tell them no, there wasn’t a direct correlation between his size and driving distance.
“I always said I was the shortest driver, pound for pound, on the PGA TOUR,” Tringale said.
He’s starting to shed that title, gaining 16 more yards over the past two years.
Improved mechanics have helped him produce more power from his 6-foot-2, 185-pound frame. In 2019, a marked improvement in his play from the tee -- including a record-setting leap in his clubhead speed -- allowed him to return to the FedExCup Playoffs for the first time in three years.
He finished fifth in June at the Rocket Mortgage Classic, his best finish in an individual event since 2015, and two weeks later held the first 54-hole lead of his career at the John Deere Classic.
Tringale has played on the PGA TOUR every season since turning pro in late 2009. He finished a career-high 20th in the 2014 FedExCup, and 36th the following season.
He used to make up for his lack of length with accuracy off the tee, but he struggled to find fairways in recent years. As his driving got worse, he slowed down his swing in an attempt to regain control. That only made the problem worse.
Only a pair of Hail Marys – top-5 finishes in the finale of the Korn Ferry Tour Finals in both 2017 and 2018 – allowed him to keep his card after finishing 133rd and 195th in the FedExCup.
He was second-to-last in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee (-1.35) in 2018.
“It was hard to play golf short and crooked,” he said.
He saw a dramatic difference last season. He was the most-improved player on TOUR in Strokes Gained: Total, clubhead speed and Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee. He also had the second-largest gain in both driving distance and accuracy (see chart). He jumped 89 spots in the FedExCup, finishing 106th in the standings.
Stat 2019 2018 Improvement Rank SG: Total 0.54 -0.93 +1.47 1st Clubhead speed 119.94 111.28 +8.66 1st SG: Off-the-Tee -0.11 -1.35 +1.24 1st Driving distance 296.9 289.3 +7.6 yards 2nd Driving accuracy 60.5% 52% +8.5% 2nd FedExCup 106 195 +89 spots 8th
Tringale’s clubhead speed increased 8.6 mph -- from 111.3 to 119.9 mph -- from 2018 to 2019. That’s the largest single-season increase in clubhead speed since the TOUR started recording radar data in 2007.
It was by far the largest increase last season, as well. The second-largest was 5.1 mph. No one else increased their clubhead speed by more than 4 mph.
“Now I look at a bunker at 300 yards and know I can carry it if I hit it well. Two years ago, I was thinking about hitting a 3-wood or something to be short of it. I’m carrying it 15 yards farther, 20 if I really go after it,” he said.
No one came close to Tringale’s improvement in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee last season, either. Tringale improved that statistic by 1.2 strokes gained per round. Sung Kang had the second-biggest leap, and he gained just 0.65 strokes per round.
“To be honest, it’s been more of a byproduct than a goal,” Tringale said. “I got my body to work more in sequence. By doing that, I can let loose a little more and still be under control. I can swing harder and swing faster without the fear of it causing more errant shots.
“That was sort of the ditch I was in before. I was working on my technique and if I went fast, I was going to spray it wider and be more errant. The opposite happened. The more careful I became, the more crooked I would hit it.”
He started working with Greg Rose and Dave Phillips of the Titleist Performance Institute in May 2018. They identified two faults that were sapping Tringale of power: reverse spine angle and ‘S posture.’
At the top of his backswing, Tringale’s trunk was leaning toward the target. This made it difficult for him to use his lower body in the downswing.
The problem started at address, where Tringale had too much arch in his lower back. This contributed to his improper pivot by inhibiting his turn and deactivating his core muscles. His ‘S posture’ also put abnormally high stress on the muscles of the lower back and caused the abdominal muscles to relax.
“If you imagine the spine being plugged into the hips like two extension cords, Cameron was unplugging the spine when he got to the top of his backswing,” Rose said. “Once you connect the core, that allows a player to start using the lower-body properly and using the ground.”
An improved position at the top of his backswing allows Tringale to make an uninhibited turn through impact.
“I feel like I’m rotating my body out of the way, clearing my body instead of moving it into a position and then clearing it,” Tringale said. “I’m getting my knee and hip and everything around to the left. That’s my feel, around and left and back out of the way.”
Basic physics helps him get more power in the downswing. Imagine an instructor holding his students’ hips. If he wanted them to turn faster, he’d push the right hip forward while pulling the left hip back.
Applying the proper energy through the feet can create an equal-and-opposite reaction from the ground that increases the lower body’s power.
Tringale lifts his left heel on the backswing to get a bigger hip turn. As he turns, the right heel pushes back and into the ground. That energy is released in the downswing as Tringale pushes off the inside of his right heel and milliseconds later feels like he is crushing a bug under the ball of his left foot. The left heel is then planted back into the ground.
“My body is moving better,” Tringale said. “There aren’t the blocks in my turn. My release isn’t hitting a corner and then stopping. It’s smoother.”
And the results have followed.