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Thursday, 25 August 2016

Choosing a Method

While the only thing that really counts in this game is impact, there are obviously many ways to get there.  Goodness knows I've tried just about every method of swinging the club.  And at one time or another, I've played reasonably well with all of them.  But eventually we all really need to choose a method of swinging the club that works and feels the best and then stick with it.

I was raised watching the great Jack Nicklaus.  Naturally, I tended to imitate him.  My swing was long and upright, and my miss was always a pull, or a slice, but never a hook.  And, as Lee Trevino said, "You can talk to a slice, but a hook won't listen."  Any method that doesn't eliminate the hook is a dangerous one.  I seem to be coming full circle, after years of experimenting, and am going back to Jack's style of swinging.  

Jack wrote about different methods in his book, Golf My Way, and explained why he preferred his method.  After explaining that any method had to have as it's goal achieving the perfect impact position, Jack wrote:

    "My own means of achieving this goal (perfect impact) are, of course, distinctive.  I have a very personal method of swinging the club.  For example, although my method is designed to achieve the same objective as Arnold Palmer's and Gary Players' and Lee Trevino's--to name three of my favourite adversaries--it is different from each of theirs, both in over-all form and in particular components.  It is very different, too, even from the methods of the two golfers who, as idols in different ways, most influenced my development as a player, Bob Jones and Ben Hogan."

Jack described two basic ways that the game is played: the open-to-closed method and the closed-to-open method.  Lee Trevino was one of the few greats of the game who employed the closed-to-open method, as did Arnold Palmer early in his career.  A modern example is Zach Johnson.  In terms of the greats of the game, Jack noted that history favours the open-to-closed method.  Harry Vardon, Sam Snead, Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan later in his career, and Byron Nelson were all open-to-closed players.  Jack wrote:

    "What I will say, however, is this.  There is a relatively easy and a relatively difficult way to achieve the common objective at golf--which let me remind you yet again, is not a particular pattern of swing but proper impact of club on ball.  I believe that my style is closer to the relatively easy way than it is to the relatively difficult way.  I think that my style is easier to learn initially and to play with fruitfully as the years advance.  In that sense I'd certainly be happy for my game to serve as a model--but only as a rough model, mind you, not as a working blueprint."

Once again, the key is impact.  If whatever method you choose allows you to have the clubface square to the target line through the impact area, it is a good method.  But, as for me, I'm with Jack.  It was how I learned the game and it is easier on my body than many of the other methods I've tried.

I highly recommend that you seek out a copy of Golf My Way.  Even Brandel Chamblee believes it is one of the best instructional books on golf ever written.  And Brandel may be opinionated, but he knows his stuff.  It was the book Vijay Singh used to build his game.