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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Trevino Returns!

I know you thought I'd forgotten about this, but I wanted to wait until the golf majors were over. We're going to go back and look at some of Lee Trevino's driving advice and see how well it stands up to today's standard teaching.

First, here's the video again:

In the following comments, I've explained things for a righthander and put the lefthander's version in parentheses right after it; the first two times specifically say "for lefties" so you can see how I'm doing it. And I've included the time on the video where each segment starts so you can find it quickly.

1) Drawing the ball: Trevino says you need to pull your right foot (left for you lefties) back a little from your target line and roll your hands at impact. You guys know I don't like rolling your hands for a standard shot (recovery shots from funky lies are a different matter), but if you've read any of my December 2010 posts on the "new ball flight laws" you know that just squaring the clubface up from a closed stance will give you a slight draw. So far, so good.

Lee says you have to stay on the right side (left side for lefties) a little longer to get the proper result. Remember, this is being done from a closed stance, which puts your body just a bit farther behind the ball anyway. From a closed stance you have a tendency to try and make up that distance too fast, so you lurch forward and get ahead of the ball; when that happens, you push the shot. (Remember, a closed stance makes you swing more in-to-out.) What you want to avoid is lurching forward to make up the distance too soon. That closed stance gives you a longer backswing and downswing, so you don't have to move forward quite so quickly to get back to the ball.

Once you understand that, Lee's advice makes perfectly good sense. Since your downswing is coming more from the inside, your grip should be turned slightly stronger on the club's grip (remember, that side is a bit farther away from the ball now, and Trevino had a stronger grip to begin with) and your right (left) hand and arm will automatically feel like they're a bit under their normal downswing position.

2) Why You Slice, First Reason (1:20): Is stopping your slice really as simple bending your left (right) knee toward the target and keeping your right (left) knee behind it? Well, the key here is his explanation about your right (left) shoulder. Look, if that shoulder gets closer to the target line before the other one turns away, you'll swing from out-to-in; if it stays behind the shoulder closest to the target, you'll swing from in-to-out. If you get stiff-legged during your swing, your hips can't move well either and you'll fling that back shoulder out in front of your hips in order to turn.

You don't have to flex just one knee. If you keep both knees flexed during your swing, you should avoid this problem. Not only can your hips move more freely, but your weight doesn't get thrown toward the ball. That should let you keep the club more on plane so you swing it down the line better.

3) Why You Slice, Second Reason (2:24): OK, this one sounds contradictory to what we're being taught. Aren't you supposed to lead the club head into the hitting zone? Again, the key is Lee's explanation: The left (right) arm is too fast and the right (left) arm is too slow. What does this mean? You aren't turning your shoulders all the way through the hitting area. As a result, your hands are just sliding past your body through the hitting area without body rotation to help them square up.

This happens a lot to people who "chicken wing" their followthrough. When you "chicken wing," your elbow is pointed toward the target; but when you swing the club properly, your elbow should point at the ground. A real good thought here is that if you bent your elbow when you hit the ball, your elbow would hit you in the side of your stomach. If you're in the wrong position and you bend your elbow, it will probably point to your left (right), about halfway between your side and the target line.

4) The Correct Takeaway (3:46): Essentially Lee is teaching you the one-piece takeaway I detailed in the "Dexter's Coming Over the Top" series, for which you can find the links on the Some Useful Post Series page. That third error Lee shows -- the right (left) elbow bent too soon -- is exactly the problem Dex was having. The only problem I have with Lee's explanation is that some people might try to keep that arm and club stiff when they can actually stay relaxed as long as they turn their shoulders early in the swing.

If you look at Lee's arm just before his halfway back position -- right about the 4:58 position on the video -- you'll see his right arm has just bent. Ideally neither arm would bend before this point, but Lee is only 5'7" so his swing plane is a little flatter and his arm has to bend a bit sooner. But even if you're taller, if your backswing looks like Lee's, you'll be in good position.

And that's it. Trevino's basics aren't so different from what anybody else teaches -- he just explains things a little differently, that's all. If you're struggling with an unwanted slice, I hope the video and comments help.


  1. Do you happen to know what video series this is from? I would love to get it if is still available. I like the way Trevino teaches. Even though he is shorter than I am(I'm about 6'2"), I think I'm more of a feel player like he is. That's just the way I think.

    Michael Hunt had me looking at Hunter Mahan, Justin Rose, and Luke Donald. All great ball strikers, but I think those guys are too technical and analytical with the way they explain their swings. Trevino and the old school players just makes more sense to me. Am I wrong for thinking that way?

  2. Dex, I'm guessing it came from this video:

    although I'm not sure. The description sounds about right, though. It's a VHS tape, and some of the other volumes are apparently out-of-print.

    But be sure to check YouTube. There are some other Trevino clips out there, and they're bound to be from this series. You can copy the url, then go to this site:

    and you should be able to download a copy of the video from there. You paste the url into a text box at the Zamzar site, choose the format you want the video in (you'll probably want .mpg), and enter your email address. Zamzar emails you a download link once they convert it, which usually only takes a few minutes. You'll have to do it one video at a time but once you've downloaded them, you can view them anytime you like.