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Thursday, 24 March 2016

Sam Snead and the "Force-Type Swing"

While all I have seen are videos of Sam Snead--and him hitting the opening tee shot at the Masters into his nineties--I think I am safe in saying he was the best swinger of the club we've ever seen.  Johnny Miller played with Sam and recently stated that he has still never seen anyone, including McIlroy, Day, and Woods, hit it any better than Sam did.  Say what you like about Johnny, but he knows golf and the golf swing.

I just read an article by Sam Adams in which he talks about the danger, especially to the back, of the "modern" swing.  Sam Snead called this " modern swing" a "force-type swing."  He did not recommend it for handicap players and called it a young man's swing.  In essence, the modern swing includes a big shoulder turn, a restricted hip turn, a shorter backswing, and a great deal of body rotation and torque.  It is a powerful move.  But it is definitely a young man's swing.  Most of those who employ it, Harvey Penick asserted, won't be playing on the Champions Tour unless they learn to make some adjustments.

Look at some of the classic swingers, like Tom Watson, Vijay Singh, Colin Montgomery, Freddie Couples, Phil Mickelson and Ernie.  Those guys have stayed competitive, kept their length, and have had success well into their forties and fifties.  Their swings are all long, loose, and rhythmic.  Sam referred to keeping his swing "oily."  These guys swing the club.  They hit the ball with the clubhead.  They don't try to apply force to the ball with the shaft of the club.

Sam Snead said he swung the club straight back with his left hand, gripping the club firmly in the last two fingers of his left hand to avoid over-swinging, or losing control at the top of the backswing.  His left arm, shoulder, hip, knee, and foot just naturally followed along.  He began the downswing with his left hand and arm pulling the club through impact and down the target line.  Once again, the rest of the body followed right along naturally.  In his swing there was no effort to restrict anything.  It was a loose, oily, rhythmic action that placed minimal stress on his body.  He was the ultimate swinger of the club.  His action was as simple and free of idiosyncrasies as it was fluid and rhythmic.  I think I'm going to watch as much video of the Slammer as I can.  

No one has managed to figure out a way to swing the club any better than Sam.  Just ask Johnny.  If you haven't checked out Sam Snead's swing, I suggest you look on YouTube.  If you prefer, you might want to check out Tom Watson if you want a more modern example.  While his rhythm is quicker, Tom's swing has to be as good as we've ever seen.  Hell, he was almost sixty when he lost the Open in a playoff.  There's a swing to emulate and try to copy.  No idiosyncrasies there either.

In fact, I don't think Tom Watson gets as much credit as he should.  Not many guys went toe to toe with Jack in his prime and won.  Tom is one of the all-time greats.  He was helped to refine his game by none other than Byron Nelson.  Now, you want to talk about great players, Lord Byron...