Monday, December 8, 2008

The Impact Zone by Bobby Clampett

A book I recommend as a "must read" for beginners and can help players of all levels is Bobby Clampett's 'The Impact Zone.'

Most people recognize Clampett as an announcer for CBS and then hear about this book and think "those who can't, teach (and announce)." But in reality, at one point Clampett was one of the greatest players in the world and had an incredibly bright future. He has Hogan-esque ball striking with arguably an even better short game. Early in his career, it seemed like he was a sure thing to win a few majors and become a Hall of Famer.

But as well all know, there are no sure things in golf.

One of Clampett's problems was he had a very flat swing. Seeking some instruction when he started to struggle a little, he wound up going to all sorts of swing instructors who focused on his swing plane and other issues (Clampett calls it "swing style") instead of working on his Impact Zone (Clampett calls it "swing dynamics"). Clampett grew up under the tutelage of Ben Doyle and had his greatest success with Doyle focusing more on "swing dynamics" than "swing style." Once he got away from Doyle's instruction, his game took a turn for the worse and he wound up being known sort of as the Ian Baker-Finch of his time (great golfer who suddenly had the full swing yips). Eventually Clampett went back to Doyle and his game turned right around. However, by then he was a lot older and with the effect Tiger Woods had on the game, he didn't have the distance and time to dedicate himself (he's a family man) to compete with the young guys on a consistent basis.

Anyway, here's a look at Clampett's swing today.

Looks pretty darn good, right?

This book has three excellent aspects to it, IMO.

1. It teaches what the clubhead is supposed to do through the impact zone so it's easy to understand (down, out and forward)>

2. It teaches how to get to master the impact zone.

3. It teaches how to practice.

While #1 is important, I sort of believe that #3 is just as important. If I've said it once I'll say it a million times. This game needs to be taught from green to fairway to tee, not the other way around. In any walk of life, when we are learning something we learn the easy and simple stuff first and once we have a good grasp of that, we move on to more difficult and complex stuff.

Except for golf...

In golf so many golfers and instructors have us learn the difficult and complex stuff first (full swing) and the easy and simple stuff is almost an afterthought. And after reading 'The Impact Zone' (and seeing some of Ben Doyle's teaching videos) it drives me nuts whenever I see somebody getting a lesson and they start out by pulling the driver out of the bag and giving a few rips.

The "Green to Tee" teaching method is how the old time golf instructors used to teach the game. Harvey Penick was a big believer in teaching chipping first because in his words it was a miniature version of the game. Now it seems like instructors are worried about swing plane and length of swing which only causes more confusion, no improvement in play and shelling out more money for new clubs that won't work and more instruction that won't work.

I've actually had this notion that the game should be taught this way for some time, but couldn't exactly justify the reasoning. The Impact Zone justifies the reasoning for you. So while this is a GREAT book for beginners and mid-handicappers who really don't know much about the swing and are looking to improve, it shows that even low handicappers should practice in this fashion as well.

'The Impact Zone' can be found at almost every book store for around $19.99.



Golfgal said...

Great post! I think I'll buy the book for myself and then give it to my golfguy as a "slightly used" stocking stuffer :)

I just discovered your blog, but after reading this...I'll be back!


Rich H. said...

Thanks for the kind words. You should really enjoy the book.

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