Former Birchmont champ Amy Anderson to play in U.S. Women's Open
It takes just a few seconds, a golf swing that you could put the same music to every time. When former Birchmont women's champion Amy Anderson packed her bags for this month's U.S. Women's Open, she also took her flawless form with her clubs. There are no hitches or jerks, just an effortless-looking arc that has been years in the making, cultivated by swing coach Dale Helm from Mayville, N.D. That swing won a United States Junior Girls Amateur, a Summit League championship and, the latest, a ticket to the premier women's golf tournament in the world.
Anderson - a North Dakota State golfer from Oxbow, N.D. - tees off at 9:01 a.m. today at The Broadmoor golf course in Colorado Springs, Colo. She'll be one of a few select amateurs in the field, but that doesn't mean she carries an amateur swing.
That swing produced perfect results at the 2008 Birchmont in Bemidji. Amy won the women's title and her brother, Nathan, won the men's crown at Bemidji Town & Country Club. Both finished second in 2007.
To get a pro's prospective from experts or coaches not associated with Amy, we took her swing photos to Fargo-Moorhead golf courses.
"I'd take it," said Greg McCullough from Edgewood. "She's very fundamentally sound at setup the way an All-American or a U.S. Open participant might be."
"To sum it up, I would say, 'Powerful,'" said Moorhead Country Club's Larry Murphy. "If you were to take a swing and show it to an aspiring player - boy or girl, man or woman - this would be it. Very athletic. She's a great athlete."
"Wow, pretty close to textbook," said Corey Herlickson, head pro at the Meadows in Moorhead. "She has it figured out."
What is "it?"
At setup, McCullough said, Anderson looks very balanced with a great grip. Herlickson said her weight is centralized with a nice spine angle, especially appropriate for a driver.
The next movement, Anderson said, is her key to a successful shot. She said she needs to make sure she doesn't pull her hands too far inside or too far outside.
"The first quarter of the swing is where I make a lot of mistakes," she said.
Brother Nathan, her occasional caddie, said it's tough to detect when something is off, but he said he knows it when he sees it.
"I watch everything," Nathan said. "In my mind, I can see the perfect swing. If it's off, I can try and figure it out. I'm here to help when Dale isn't around."
Extension, most likely, is never a problem. The top of her backswing, McCullough said, is accentuated by "an awesome shoulder turn." Herlickson said the club head is at a perfect location.
Also at the point, all three pros said, is her head has yet to move. It's pointing straight down.
The first movement of the club going down, McCullough said, is solid.
"At impact, she stays back on the ball and her head is still down," Herlickson said. "Her chin and shoulder are married to each other."
Said Murphy: "Look at how quiet her feet are. Wow."
Murphy also pointed to the "width of her swing," saying it's at a maximum level throughout the entire action.
"We tend to shorten that width," he said, referring to the average golfer, "and that causes us to lose power. That's unbelievable. She's getting the most power out of her frame."
Extension later comes into play, again, the pros said, after impact and into the follow-through.
"Her hands are nice and high and the club is fully released," McCullough said.
"It's literally a tour player extension," Herlickson said. "All these things allow her to make incredible connection. It's the recipe for an accurate and long ball."
It will need to be long this week. At 7,047 yards, the Broadmoor is the longest in U.S. Women's Open history. In contrast, the Detroit Country Club in Detroit Lakes, Minn., where Anderson became the first female to reach the championship flight of the Pine to Palm, plays at 6,106 yards. The Moorhead Country Club, where she was the first female to play in the KX4/Bank of the West Amateur, is 6,445 yards. The Broadmoor is also at an elevation of 6,400 feet above sea level, meaning shots go farther in thinner air. Her swing, however, doesn't care where she's at. "When I'm playing well," she said, "the only swing thought is keeping my head back at the top."