Swing Methods and the Fifteen Second Flameout

Butch Harmon

Have you ever noticed how various swing fads seem to come and go?  It seems like just the other day that Bennett and Plummer's "Stack and Tilt" swing was the only way to hit a ball properly.  How about David Leadbetter?  When was the last time you heard from him or one of his players?  Do you remember Jimmy Ballard and "connection"? What about Jim Hardy and his "One Plane Swing"It boggles my mind how these methods pop up, become the hot item and then flare out almost as quickly as they arrived on the scene.  They all have one thing in common that led to their 'success';  a tour golfer who wins an event or two with this 'new and amazing swing' they just learned.  The golfer, feeling indebted to the teacher, proudly proclaims that they could not have achieved their success without this newly discovered way to swing.  Please!
Understand that most of these ideas are thought up by very intelligent and well educated golf teachers.  The problem I have with these methodologies, however,  is that they set their own style of swinging the club.  In other words, the club must be swung in a certain fashion for it to work or function correctly.  I say an emphatic, "Nonsense!" I do not claim to know everything about the golf swing, but I do know that every great player has a different swing that produces fantastic results - or they would not be great!  There cannot possibly be one 'correct' way to swing the club!            

David Leadbetter

 It's a classic case of putting form before function!  "If you swing this new and amazing way you will achieve desired results!"  The best players of all time have always had a knack of getting the club on the ball correctly and the game today is no different.  A feathery needed to be stuck the same way a ProV1X needs to be hit.  Well almost!  If every golfer out there could understand impact and physics that make the ball go in the right place AND the wrong place they would be far better off.  What difference is perfecting the wrist angle at position seven in the moveaway going to make in your game and ability to compress a golf ball!  Form will always follow function.  Just ask Lee Trevino, Arnold Palmer, Raymond Floyd, Bobby Jones, Nancy Lopez, Walter Hagen, Bobby Locke.......
Function must be King when you work on your game.  Get the ball to sound, feel and fly like you want it to and you are a happy, and very good, golfer!
Things to Ponder:
  • Watching the AT&T on Sunday looked like the King (Tiger) was taking his young Prince (Kim) out for a little schooling.
  • Anyone got an over under on the number of days before Carolyn Bivens is out as the LPGA commissioner?
  • Why when a golfer sets up with their body aiming left it is an 'open' stance and when their clubface is aiming right it is an 'open' face?  Blame the Scots and single malt whiskey for that one.
  • I have a feeling Paddy Harrington will be back in contention at next weeks 'Open' Championship.
  • A claim could be made that Phil has choked away both majors so far this year!?

Hey, thanks for reading and please tell your friends about this amazing new website that is the latest and greatest golf blog in the whole wide world!!

Release the Putter

Tiger Woods A pendulum swings around a fixed point and in order to release the face of the putter correctly, so should your putting stroke.

Jim Hardy, the noted 'One-Plane' teacher, has gone on record as stating that the majority of great putters are invariably 'hookers' of the golf ball in their full swing.  They all release the putter face the same way they release their club face - aggresively! And when looking at a sampling of the greatest of all time; Faxon, Crenshaw, Locke (as in Bobby!), George Archer and Ballesteros;  I certainly can concur with his reasoning.  Of course Jack and Tiger aren't too bad but let's just stick with the formula for now!

In order for the face to release the stroke needs to work like a pendulum.  Notice in the pictures of Tiger Woods above how the butt end of the putter in each frame points at the same spot on his torso.  So often I see golfers, in an attempt to not use their wrists, push the hands through the stroke, thus discouraging the wrists, hands and face to release freely.  This leads not only to poor direction and ball striking, but most importantly decreased distance control.

An excellent little teaching aid to overcome this common flaw is the Perfect PendulumThis device attaches to your own putter and telescopes up into your belly. (Unless your belly happens to telescope into it!)  Once it's anchored make a few strokes to get a sense of the putter head swinging beyond the hands into the follow through.  It ensures a correct release.

I love simple teaching aids that convey the correct feel while using your own club and this one takes care of everything for you!

Here are a few keys to remember:

  • Assume your normal address position and note where the butt end of the putter points.
  • As you stroke try to sense the butt end pointing at the same spot on your upper body.  This should be maintainted from address to the back of the stroke and on into the follow through.
  • Feel the putter head SWING to either side of your center.
  • A light, soft grip will aid in the putter face releasing freely.
  • Roll a few putts with your dominant hand only to feel the correct rhythm of the stroke.

For better distance and direction (is there anything else?) with your putting try these ideas.  They will help!

Things to Ponder:

  • John Daly's career can be marked by either upward or downward trends.  Over the past few years the lows are lower and the highs are not quite where they once were.  He is clearly on an upward trend at the moment, I just hope he has the sense to survive the next low.
  • I have had a few responses to my All-time Heart List.  After reconsideration, I must add Lee Trevino and Tiger Woods to the list.  Tom Watson is waiting in the wings.
  • Why do Davis Love and Ben Crane have to qualify for the British Open?  They are both in the top 60 players in the world and are both having relatively good seasons.
  • It's about time Vijay Singh has showed up again on a leaderboard!  Where has he been?

Thanks for reading and please feel free to make abusive comments about the author.

The Driver: Hit Up or Hit Down?

henrik-stenson-getty1For many years I have believed that the irons are struck with a descending blow, the fairway woods and hybrids are swept off the ground and the driver is hit with a slightly upward hitTee it high and let it fly! In recent months it has come to my attention that that is not necessarily the case; certainly amongst the top golfers in the world. Trackman is a company that collects a tremendous amount of data on the tour golfers and their shots. Essentially everything you did not need to know about your club and ball in the swing, but importantly, a few things that are very important.  Trackman, in their January newsletter, stated that the PGA Tour average for attack angle with the driver  (up or down at the moment of impact) is -1.3 degrees.  That means that a collection of the greatest drivers on the planet actually average out with a downward hit on the big stick! Pay attention to how high tour golfers do not tee their ball.  It is almost always medium to low height.  As I researched further I found that long drive champions tended to have an attack angle of anywhere from +7 to +12 degrees.  Bubba Watson and J.B. Holmes, two of the tours longest, regularly measure out at around +6 degrees.

The primary reason why all these top golfers hit down is because they hit the ball so far already that they have no need to learn how to hit up.  If you drive the ball less than 250 yards on average then you need to learn how to hit up on the ball. If any of you watched Henrik Stenson's magnificent round yesterday at the very major-like TPC Sawgrass you will have noticed how often he took a divot while hitting three wood off just about every tee.  There is only way way to take a divot after impact and that is to hit down.

There is nothing in physics that indicates a downward hit is more accurate than an ascending hit other than that the generally lower trajectory will get on the ground sooner and thus stay more on line.....

Make sense?

Things to Ponder:

  • In my book Henrik Stenson played the round of the year yesterday. Congratulations!
  • I like Ian Poulter a lot and I find myself rooting for him to break through more and more.  Great outfits too!ian-poulter
  • How about my two picks for the week; Boo Weekley WD and Brian Gay WD. Sensational selecting there....
  • Jim Hardy, of One-Plane fame, believes that most of the great putters of all time were hookers of the ball; Crenshaw, Ballesteros, Watson (in his day), Locke, Archer.  The one exception is Nicklaus.  Release the face of the putter.....
  • I thought that TPC Sawgrass showed some much needed teeth, but it was a little tricked up in places.  I thought the 13th was a joke!  You had to land it front right to have chance to get close, well Goosen did that and his ball rolled into the water?!
  • Did anyone notice that four out of the top five finishers at the Players played in sunglasses?  Stenson, Poulter, Na and Davis!
  • I remember when Strange and Kite had a Monday playoff for the Tour Championship many years ago and the winner would be the first player to break the $1million mark for the season.  Ian Poulter did that yesterday, by finishing second!