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Saturday, 28 November 2015

Right-Arm Action According to Jack Nicklaus

Ken Venturi said, "Golf is a game of finding what works, losing it, and finding it again."  Bobby Jones said pretty much the same thing, suggesting that he always had one or two things he thought about to keep his swing in good working order.  But those one or two things were always different, needing to be changed as they lost their charm; often because he began to exaggerate the move until he over-did it at the expense of something else.  

While there are times when you don't have to think too much about the swing, and you can just look at the target and let it go, those times tend to be few and far between for most players, even the really good ones.

I've been thinking lately about how I might be able to get the zip back in my swing.  Just like everyone else, I suppose, every year I seem to be losing a few more yards.  My back and neck troubles have made things worse.  A big turn is now pretty much out of the question.  Also, the fact that the past year and a half or so I've been forced to ride a cart, means my legs aren't as strong as they were.  Put the two together and it's a recipe for a serious loss of power.

I have decided I need to focus more on using my hands to get the zip I want.  In using the hands rather than the big muscles to generate speed, there is always the danger that the stronger right hand will take over and ruin the shot.  I was a softball pitcher and have been figuring lately that I need to use that pitching motion to get the club head firing at the target.  I find that I can still pitch a softball with lots of pop, and accuracy, despite my wonky back.  So I've decided to give it a whirl.  Actually, I remember Harvey Penick talking about a fellow he taught who was a former softball pitcher and used that under-handed pitching motion in his golf swing to some success.

Yesterday I found a new copy of Jack Nicklaus' Golf my Way at a thrift shop.  I already had an old one, but as I read through the new one again, I discovered what Jack had to say about the right-arm action, which tended to confirm what I've been thinking.  Jack said:

"In most good golf swings the right arm is slightly bent and the right elbow pointing down, not out, at impact.  Otherwise there's a danger that the right side will grab control of the swing, invariably with dire results.  Past impact, however, the right arm does straighten and extend toward the target.  To me, the movement feels very similar to that used in bowling or in pitching a softball.  It's a "sweeping-through motion from which I get the feeling I could reach out and retrieve the flying ball with my right hand."

I had tried using my softball pitching motion the last few holes the other day after my back started really giving me some grief.  The results were very promising.  It's 34 degrees out this morning, but bad back be damned, I'm going out to try that under-handed pitching motion again today.  Thanks, Jack.  I knew I was on to something.  

It may just work for awhile.  At least until I over-do it at the expense of something else.  That's the way this game is.  What worked like a charm yesterday stops working today, and you must find something else--something you probably already knew but had over-looked in favour of your latest swing thought.  That's golf.  There are lots of swing keys that work.  It's just that none of them work every time.  If they did, this game would be easy.