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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Jack on Tom

I picked up the October Golf Digest today, the one with Tom Watson on the cover. There’s a lot of good stuff in this issue, and I’ll probably be commenting on some of it in the coming weeks.

But what immediately caught my eye was a short article called A Swing for the Ages: How Watson Got Straighter that Jack Nicklaus wrote. It’s accompanied by a foldout showing Tom’s swing in both 1980 and 2009, which is one of the coolest things I’ve seen in a long time. I’ll come back to that in a moment.

Jack says the secret to Tom’s swing is his shoulder turn, which I generally refer to as a coil. His coil today is not quite as big as it was in 1980, but it’s very close. He also mentions that Tom lets his body react to the swinging of the club to generate power, rather than swinging to positions. Both are things which weekend players can learn from.

But what struck me most were the pictures comparing the downswings. You can look at the complete sequence here at the Golf Digest site, but I’ve clipped the two frames that caught my eye. (I hope they don’t mind!)

Tom Watson's wrist cock in 1980 & 2009These two frames are taken at the halfway-down point in the downswing. Look at how much more wrist cock Tom has at 60 than he had as a strapping young lad 29 years ago! This is why Tom Watson still pounds the ball out there with the young guys. This is part of what Jack calls “letting his body react to the swinging of the club.” He feels the change of direction at the top of the swing, then smoothly starts his downswing. As a result, the club uncocks later in the downswing without him trying to “hold the angle.” Tom makes it look easy… and for him, it is. He’s working with his equipment, not against it.

Don’t believe it when they say your game has to deteriorate as you get older. Tom Watson is proof that it doesn’t.

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