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Thursday, 9 July 2015

Byron Nelson and Top Hand Golf

Byron Nelson was undoubtedly one of the greatest players ever to play the game. He holds two records that will surely never be equalled. In 1945 he won eighteen tournaments, including eleven in a row. 

There are those who might try to argue that, given the war was on, the fields Byron played in were weak. That is not really a valid argument if you understand that, while amassing these victories, Lord Byron had a scoring average of 68.33. That stood for more than fifty years, until bettered by Tiger Woods. 

Mr. Nelson is credited as being the father of the modern golf swing, developing a swing that worked with the advent of steel shafts. That swing was more upright. The club was taken straight back and included a lateral move with a strong leg drive. But what was Byron's real secret?

Kathryn brought me home a second hand book today entitled Golf's Greatest Players, Courses, and Voices by Golf Digest. In that book there is an article  Shape Your Swing the Modern Way by Byron Nelson with Larry Davis from April, 1976. In that article, when talking about his swing Byron said:

"So I kept working on this theory of keeping the face of the club square with the back of the left (top) hand, just as though I was trying to hit the ball with the back of that hand.

I felt I was controlling the swing from the left side. But I knew I was getting some power from the right side, not early in the swing, but late. That was something that just kind of happened. I wouldn't recommend that anyone deliberately try to hit with the right side, because if you do you'll be in trouble. Even though I felt I pushed off the right foot, I don't believe you should think about this, because you'll do it too much ahead of time. The right-side power builds up because of the proper use of the feet and legs. When you move to the right side in the backswing and then back to the left, you automatically generate the proper use of the right side.

Finally, in 1937, I had developed this style of play to my satisfaction... I never tried to change anything in my swing from that time on."

Bobby Jones also stressed the left arm and side controlling the golf swing. So did Sam Snead. Lee Trevino teaches that where the back of the left hand goes, the clubface goes. They were all Top Hand golfers. So was Moe Norman. If the greatest players, ball strikers, and swingers of all time played top hand golf, if you're struggling, perhaps you should consider giving it a try. 

Take the club back with your left, or top hand, if you're a right-handed golfer, then strike the ball with the back of your left hand, letting the right side add power naturally. Golf is played best as a top hand game. Try to hit with your right side, and you're in for trouble. Don't believe me, believe Byron.