Friday, December 11, 2009

Tommy Armour Talks About Simplicity

Many of you may not have heard of Tommy Armour; the name is familiar to you because of his grandson, current player Tommy Armour III. The original, known as the Silver Scot, was a contemporary of Bobby Jones and won 3 majors: the 1927 U.S. Open, the 1930 PGA Championship, and the 1931 British Open. He also taught the legendary Babe Didrikson Zaharias.

The Silver ScotIn a twisted turn of fate, I think it's also cool that he holds the record for the highest score on a single hole in PGA history, a record also set in 1927: a 23 on a par-5. That's 18-over on a single hole! According to Wikipedia, this is called an "archaeopteryx" (15 or more over par).

The first lesson: Take heart, folks! This game can bite anybody!

Jack Nicklaus said that Armour "earned even more fame as a teacher than his fine playing record won for him." And one of Armour's books, How to Play Your Best Golf All the Time, is still very popular. Ironically, the book is pretty thin, and Armour said it took some effort to make it that way. But he had his reasons:
While trimming my manuscript down to the form in which it now reaches you, I often thought of men and women who might have been great champions had they only been able to master the simple and indispensable elements of good golf I have set forth in this book. The frustrated ones lost their way to glory by wandering in a maze of detail.

That never has happened to any of my pupils, and it never will, whether the pupil is a beginner or one who already has won national championships. (p.3)
Simplicity. The frustrated ones lost their way to glory by wandering in a maze of detail. Armour laments that high-speed cameras break the swing down too much, showing too many things that don't really matter. (You might find it interesting to know that the book was written in 1953! Obviously this is not a new problem.)

There are only a few things that really matter when you swing that club. Remember that most of golf's greats had what were considered "funky" swings at the time; it was only after they became dominators that others tried to copy them.

Don't over-complicate your swing. You'll play better and have more fun.

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