Is there really, a ‘right’ or a ‘wrong’ golf swing?
By Ian Hardie
A while back I was talking to a golfer who said something that I’ve heard too many times over the years.
They were complaining how most of the things they did to hit their golf ball, weren’t ‘right’.
Now, I’ve heard and seen just about every theory on how golfers should hit the golf ball, and most of these theories stem from (what I believe to be) the false idea that there is such a thing as a ‘right’ or a ‘wrong’ golf swing.
These theories are generally developed using ideas that come from three separate directions:
1. An explanation of what famous golfer ‘X’ did or does.
Even though they may have been or are a genetic freak of nature, unless you are a near exact physical double of that golfer their golf action is irrelevant to you.
2. An extremely technical explanation of the golf action.
When in reality it’s essentially a couple of fairly simple body movements, not to mention the fact that good golfers aren’t thinking anything about how they hit the ball when they are playing the game.
Or the one I think is the most destructive of them all – a set of ideas based on the assumption that you are in some way able to:
3. Control many parts of your body during the less than two seconds it takes to hit a golf shot.
Ideas like trying to control your wrists, transferring your weight, keeping your left arm straight, keeping your head down, keeping your head still or taking the club straight back.
Now, let me make one thing clear before I go any further. I’m not saying that my opinions and ideas about golf are the ‘only way’ to play and learn the game. What I’m attempting to do is get you to let go of the idea that there is a ‘right’ or a ‘wrong’ golf swing by thinking about what the most important part of a golf shot is.
Any idea what that might be?
Most golfers, when I ask that question tell me things that they have probably heard from other golfers or just think may be relevant like the grip, how good the back-swing is, the follow through, weight transfer.
In reality, even though some of those things may influence their golf shots to some degree, all the golf ball can do is react to the influence that you impart on it with your club face at impact.
Read that bit again as it was the important bit!
The nicest or most ‘right’ golf swing in the world that doesn’t hit the golf ball, doesn’t do much for you on the golf course, apart from creating the effect of your hand going into your pocket to buy a round of drinks for the other golfers you are with after the game!
It’s entirely up to you as a golfer to make the golf ball go and your golf ball isn’t the slightest bit interested in how ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ your golf swing supposedly is as you do it.
So instead of filling your brain with theories and things that you think you can control, I suggest that you are better to spend some time on your practice area or at your local driving range, focussing entirely on hitting the golf ball and attempting to influence it in the best way you possibly can.
To help you with that, I happened to come across a great little video that was put together by the PGA Tour, that’s a collection of what someone there thought was the 10 most unusual golf swings they had seen on the PGA Tour over the years.
Your first reaction to that idea will probably be something like: I bet the golfers shown weren’t that good, as an unusual golf swing means they will be doing all sorts of things ‘wrong’.
So before you go take a look at it, I’m going to run you through each of the golfers shown.
10. Bubba Watson
Bubba’s self-taught golf swing has made him one of the longest hitters of all time. At this point in time he has a mere eight PGA Tour wins and two majors to his name but plenty of years of golf left to win more events.
9. Paul Azinger
Paul Azinger racked up 12 PGA Tour wins with a total of 17 wins worldwide, while spending over 300 weeks in the top 10 of the golf rankings.
8. Arnold Palmer
Known as “The King”, Arnold Palmer is one of golf’s all-time greats with 62 PGA Tour wins out of a total of 95 wins worldwide. He was encouraged by his teaching pro father to ‘swing hard and hit it far’.
7. Hubert Green
If you want to talk about a golfer that does things ‘wrong’, Hubert Green’s hands didn’t connect on the grip at all, combined with a short swing and a fast action. It must have been somewhat useful though as he had 19 PGA Tour wins out of his total of 28 worldwide (note the video says 26).
6. John Daly
I’m not sure if John Daly really qualifies as having an unusual golf swing. Throughout all of his troubles over the years he has managed to put together 5 PGA Tour wins out of 19 wins worldwide and in 1997 became first PGA Tour player to average over 300 yards driving distance for the whole season.
5. Calvin Peete
This guy certainly qualifies as having as unusual golf swing. A broken arm at a young age gave Calvin Peete something that, according to all the golf experts around the world, ‘is completely wrong’: a bent left arm at impact.
12 PGA Tour wins out of 14 wins worldwide would suggest otherwise and I find it especially interesting that in ‘doing something so wrong’, he led the PGA Tour in driving accuracy for nearly 10 years, hitting 80% of fairways from 1981 – 1990 with his bent left arm!
4. Allen Doyle
This is the only guy on the video I hadn’t heard of before and have since found out that he was a hockey player in his younger days, meaning that he did not turn professional until he was 46 years old. In his first full professional season he won three times on what was then called the Nike Tour.
Once he became eligible to play on the Senior PGA Tour Allen Doyle won 11 times on the Champions tour with his unorthodox ‘low swing’, which he said was developed by practicing in a room with a low ceiling. I’m not sure if that’s right or not but it sure was effective.
3. Jim Thorpe
Probably my favourite golf swing to watch on the video. Jim Thorpe played the PGA Tour for four decades – yes, you read that right! Over that time he had three PGA Tour wins and 13 Champions Tour wins out of a total 19 worldwide wins. If his golf swing was as ‘wrong’ as most would say it was – how did that happen?
2. Lee Trevino
Another one of the all-time greats of the game with 29 PGA Tour wins and 29 Champions Tour wins out of a total 89 worldwide wins. The golfer known as ‘The Merry Mex’ had one of the biggest slices ever seen. But despite playing the shot that most golfers would tell you is ‘the worst’, his golf ball continually ended up on the green and then found its way to the hole way more than most other golfer’s balls did.
1. Jim Furyk
Still plying his trade on the PGA Tour, Jim Furyk currently has 17 PGA Tour wins out of 27 worldwide wins so far. Another golfer to have a golf pro father, Jim was encouraged at a young age to learn everything by feel and let the golf ball tell him how he was doing.
Once you have watched the video, I suggest that you take a few minutes to decide that it’s time to let go of the idea that there is such a thing as a ‘right’ or a ‘wrong’ golf swing
It will enable you to get on with focusing entirely on hitting the golf ball and attempting to influence it in the best way you can, which is what every one of those guys in the video who played and won on the PGA Tour for many years understood was of more use to them than getting their ‘wrong’ golf swings ‘fixed’.
You can find this great little video here: golfhabits.com/the-top-10-unique-golf-swings-on-the-pga-tour
Ian Hardie is Golfer Pacific’s Golf Professional contributor. He is Club Professional at Omanu Golf Club in Mount Maunganui. Ian’s time is split between the pro shop at the club and helping people to improve, while enjoying their golf more as a result of his golf coaching. Over the past few years, in an effort to help as many golfers as he can, Ian has been sharing his common sense golf advice with golfers around the world through his website golfhabits.com. With over 500 articles to read, it’s a great resource for any golfer looking to improve their golf game.