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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Swing of the Birthday Boy

Today Arnold Palmer turns 84. It's hard to believe, isn't it? In honor of the King's birthday, I've decided to post this video by teaching pro Brian Manzella that shows what he believes are the 3 keys to Palmer's power.

Unlike Brian, I wouldn't recommend copying this swing. It's not because I think it's a bad one -- I don't --but this isn't the kind of swing that most people do naturally. If you narrowed Arnie's stance, it would look remarkably like the swing of another legendary player, Bobby Jones. (Not the helicopter finish, of course, but the rest of it is amazingly close.)
  • The takeaway creates a loopy over-the-top backswing that never really gets over-the-top because the loop is so flat. (I tried to copy the Jones swing early in my golf career. It felt really cramped to me so I ended up going high and over-the-top. That's bad news!)
  • The straight trailing leg requires a dramatic hip move to create club head speed. (That hip move might work for you as long as you don't get your upper body too tilted. That straight trailing knee is more likely to reduce your hip turn than increase it, though, and could result in a reverse pivot.)
  • And that "full release" can easily result in a duck hook if your timing is off. (If you uncock your wrists too early, you may hit the ball thin and lose distance. If you uncock them too late, you may hit push-slices.)
This swing worked so well for Arnold Palmer because Arnie "owned" it. It was natural to him. Unless you're as athletic as Arnie was, you're unlikely to get the same results. But there is one thing I think you can definitely learn from this swing...

The greatest players take the fundamentals of the swing and make them their own. There will never be another Arnold Palmer... and that's why he's one of the greatest ever. HAPPY 84TH BIRTHDAY, ARNIE!