The Goofy Game of Golf Searching for the Answer

Today’s blog will be about one of the all time greats Slammin Sammy Snead. If he had won one or two U.S. Opens, he probably would be in the discussion of the all time greatest golfers. Even with the Open blemish Snead is always mentioned in the top 5 or 6. His graceful swing was a thing of beauty and allowed him to win 3 Masters, 3 PGAs and a British Open on his only trip over there. Hogan also won the British on his only trip. It makes you wonder how many majors these two would have had if they had made the trip yearly like everyone does now. Even though Snead’s swing was graceful and powerful he did have some flaws. In the book The Venturi Analysis, here is Ken Venturi’s take on the Snead swing.

On strictly the technical side, Sam’s swing is not as classic as it looks. He sets up with his feet a little closed and the clubhead aiming slightly to the right of his target, then gets the ball onto target by delivering the club to it on a path a little outside than on which he took it back. This is a pull, and you probally know from experience that a pulled ball is a stronger more powerful shot than one hit with clubhead moving from in to out. Sam can make this move without hitting many shots off line to the left because he gets his right shoulder lower at impact than it was at address and because he clears his left hip a little more than ususal. Other golfers who swing this way might look a little jerky, but Sam does it smoothly and almost effortlessly.

Venturi also goes on to write that Snead benefitted from having longer arms than normal and being double jointed. Last week I wrote about how the average golfer will aim right of the target, and then make what I called a violent move over the top, but jerky will do, which results in a pulled shot. What I find interesting is that Venturi says the moves that Snead makes keeps him from missing the shot left. Nothing is ever said that aiming right, even if it is “slightly”, will cause him  to have to do something from missing the shot to the right. Sam Snead in the early sixties wrote 3 instuctional books. In none of those books does he acknowledge that he has that type of swing. He does talk about having a closed stance for the driver, but Hogan did the same thing for a fade with the driver. In fact, in all of Snead’s books he tells the reader that the best shot is the straight shot. When I teach beginners, and I ask them to aim at a target that is only about 50 yards away, about 80% will aim right of the targer, 10% will aim left, and 10% will be right at the target. So whats the point of all this. I am not too sure. I always thought that the reason most people aim right of the target is because they are to the side of the ball and that causes the illusion of aiming at the target. We have all felt the power of the slightly over the top swing and the increase distance it produces. So could aiming a little right of the target be a more natural way to play the game. I don’t know. Did Snead know he was aiming right. In other words did he have a good mind body connection, or was this just the way one of the greatest self taught golfers of all time, just happen to hit the ball.   We’ll never know. Next week I am going to discuss another great one, which will lead us to what I think is the biggest problem in golf instruction today.

The Goofy Game of Golf Searching for the Answer

Well, here we are on Super Bowl Sunday, and yes I will give my fearless prediction at the end of the blog. Last week I discussed what I called the biggest mind-body disconnect in the history of golf, at the 86 Masters. Today the subject will be a much more common disconnect that the average golfer makes. If you don’t buy into the problem that I am about to discuss, then I suggest you find a golf course where you can sit at a clubhouse that is directly behind the 1st or 10th tee and watch about 10 to 15 groups tee off. What you will see is what I consider one of the most common problems in trying to hit the golf ball at the target. The golfer aiming anywhere from 10 to 30 yards right of the targer. Then when making the swing, at the last minute there is a violent over the top move, which results in a shot that lands left of the target. So, what is going on here.

One assumption is that the player is not aware that he is aiming that far right. However, I have had two instances where trying to correct this, the player said ” I can’t believe that now I am aiming at the target, and the most famous quote which is heard many times, ” I just can’t do this. Maybe there are other players that are aware that they are aiming that far right and just try to make the correction with the swing. Now lets look at the possible results when starting at this position.

Make a good swing: The shot will end up the appropriate distance right of the hole

Make a good swing but make a roll of the wrists: This might create enough of a draw to get the ball on target

Make an over the top move with the upper body: This will either get the shot back on line or result in a shot that ends up left of the target.

Make an over the top move combined with an open clubface: this will result in a left to right shot that may get the shot back on line.

At the outset I make the assumption that most players are not aware that they are aiming that far right. Most of them will try to make a correction move anyway. So where does this come from. Some might argue that it comes from the subconscious mind and they may be right. I think it is the body trying to make the correction. If it was the subconscious mind, then I think the result would be consistantly better. This is the obvious mind-body disconnect. The mind thinks it is aiming at the target but in reality the body is aimed right of the target. In other words the mind has no idea what the body is doing. If the mind has no idea what body is doing at address, how is it going to know what the body is doing when it is in motion, consciously or subconsciously. However I still think this is open to debate. In order to correct this the mind and body have to stay connected. That is the problem to be solved. Next week I am going to write about one of the all time greats who made a career of aiming right but did he know it.

Now for the mandatory Super Bowl prediction. I think it is going to be a much lower scoring game that anticipated. Seattle 16 Denver 10. But I did not ask my body.

The Goofy Game of Golf Searching for the Answer

This week I am going to discuss the mind-body connection. First lets look at one of the biggest mind-body disconnects in the history of golf. It happened in one of the most memorable majors of all time, the 1986 Masters. We are going to look at only two players, Jack Nicklaus and Seve Ballesteros, and one hole, the par 5 15th. So lets look at the timeline.

Nicklaus is on the 15th tee and Seve is on the 13th green with about an 8 foot eagle putt. At this moment Jack is -5 and Seve is -7.

Jack hits a great drive right down the middle and as he is walking down the fairway, Seve makes the eagle putt to go nine under par.

Jack is 204 from the pin and hits a 4 iron within 12 feet and makes the putt for an eagle to go to -7

Seve hits the drive of the day on 15 and is only 198 yards from the hole. Nicklaus has birdied 16 to go -8 and is trailing by 1 shot.

Seve also takes out a 4 iron and makes a horrible swing and pull hooks the ball right in the middle of the lake, not even close and goes on to make a bogey, which is a 3 shot swing on this one hole.

Jack Nicklaus goes on to win the Masters with a birdie on 17. Even though Seve and his caddie, who happened to be his brother, had plenty of time to make the decision on a club selection for the second shot into 15, there was enough doubt to cause the mind-body disconnect. The result was a very bad swing and an even worse result. Lets say that Seve was absoulutely sure that 4 iron was the right club. He was totally committed to the shot. His mind and body were perfectly in sync. What would have been the result. He would have smoked that 4 iron and quite possibly would have flown the green and maybe would have even put the ball in the back lake. But he would have hit a solid shot. That is the difference when the mind and body are connected and when they are not. The mind-body connection does not mean that you are never going to hit a bad shot or miss a putt. It does not mean that you are going to go out every time and be in the mythical zone. The Zone is another subject all together. What the mind-body connection does mean, is that it gives you the ability to execute the present shot or stroke to the best of your ability. How is this accomplished? I do not know. Over the next few weeks, I am going to give more examples of the mind-body disconnect, discusss if this mind-body connection even exists, and talk about a lot of theory.