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Friday, August 19, 2011

A Two-Fisted -Gloved Swing

The Wyndham Championship is almost in my backyard -- Greensboro is just 30 minutes or so away -- and Tommy "Two-Gloves" Gainey is tied for the lead after the first round. Seems like a good time to take a look at one of the most... "unique" swings on Tour.

I've been a fan of Tommy since his first appearance on Big Break. He describes his swing simply as ugly, but it's one of the most beautiful ugly swings I've ever seen! It repeats better than a lot of the textbook swings out there, and I consider that a prime requisite of a good swing. Tommy followed one of my beliefs about good swings -- you've got to build them around moves that are natural to you.

Tommy's swing is built around his old baseball swing. Let's take a quick look at it. First, face on, complete with commentary by Peter Kostis:



And then a look down-the-line:



Tommy bends over more than most players, but he stays in that position from setup until that ball is out of the park. (You don't want to be motionless in a good swing, but you need to be stable. If you're stable, you're balanced. You'll hit the ball more solidly that way.) This is more than just not swaying away from the target; he also keeps his height. Look at how steady the back of his neck is. This is where your stability during a swing really shows up -- it shouldn't move up and down during the swing. The second video shows this clearly.

He gets a good one-piece takeaway, which means he turns his shoulders early in the backswing. That gets him in a good position to hit the ball. (Remember: Good things happen when you turn your shoulders early in the backswing.)

Of course there's a lot of "unconventional" movement also. For example, I don't guess there's anybody who moves their legs quite the way Tommy does. That's a baseball player going for a low pitch if I've ever seen one! But that's what happens when you tailor a swing to your own moves. Don't forget that, for all the grief Lee Trevino took about his homebuilt swing, few if any of his critics ever matched his 6 majors; now players go to him for lessons because they know he could score. Likewise, both Jack Nicklaus and Ben Hogan's swings were considered a bit "funky" until they started dominating their opponents.

Ultimately, success becomes the arbiter of convention. (That just means that successful people are the ones everybody wants to copy.) And who knows? Maybe someday Tommy Gainey's swing will be considered a standard way to swing...

Ok, probably not. But Tommy continues to improve, and I wouldn't bet against Two-Gloves to win a few before it's all over -- maybe even this week at Greensboro.

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