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Thursday, November 30, 2017

Peter Kostis on Jonas Blixt's Golf Swing (Video)

This is a clip from CBS coverage of the 2014 Greenbriar Classic but anytime Peter Kostis compares your swing to Sam Snead's, it's worth a look. Jonas Blixt has been playing well down in Australia so this is as good a time as any.

I'd like to add a couple of observations to what Kostis says.
  • Snead's swing looks more flexible than Blixt's in part because of his equipment. Snead began his career with hickory shafts, which means he learned to create clubhead speed through rhythm rather than power. He focused more on motion than leverage, which is why his swing had a greater range of motion than Blixt's.
  • Facts are, Snead was far more flexible than most modern players, even into his later years. Snead himself said he used yoga stretches as part of his training, and the stories about him are legendary. I've heard more than one of his contemporaries say he could kick the top of a doorjamb from a standing position underneath. (Just for the record, Snead was the first player to use weight training, not Gary Player. The difference is that Snead kept it quiet; he liked to keep his training methods to himself.)
Snead used his flexibility to his advantage. In his teaching (he was originally the Greenbriar's teaching pro, you know) he stressed the need to remain relaxed during your golf swing. That also contributes to the extreme "lag" at the top of his backswing; being so flexible, he could start his downswing while the club was still going back. And by staying so relaxed, he didn't put the stress on his back that so many modern players do.

But there certainly are a number of similarities between Blixt and Snead. While Snead's hips turn more in his backswing and open more in his finish, the movement is rotary not lateral. This is more clearly seen in face-on videos, of which there are many on YouTube. Both men are rotating rather than sliding during their swings, which allows them to return the clubface to the ball more consistently. They don't move back and forth over the ball, so the ball position doesn't change between backswing and downswing.

Blixt is struggling a bit this week at the Australian PGA, perhaps because of all the rain they've had down there. (He was -3 at one point but fell back to even on the back nine while I was watching.) But his swing is fundamentally solid and it surprises me how streaky he is. I suspect he tends to think too much about his mechanics so he's never as relaxed as Snead was. When you have as good a swing as Blixt does, sometimes the best thing you can do is just trust it... and focus on where you want the ball to go.

As he proved with his runner-up finish last week, he's more than capable of getting the job done.

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