Saturday, February 13, 2010

3Jack's Top 10 Swings of All-Time - #2

My #2 swing of all time belongs to Sam Snead.

It seems on the internet that Snead has lost some steam in his claim to the greatest ballstriker ever. But when I was growing up playing junior golf I was always told that the main great ballstrikers were Snead, Hogan and Knudson. Trevino was usualy left off that list and considered as the greatest 'shotmaker' ever. Looking back now I would consider Trevino one of the great ballstrikers and Hogan aso a great 'shotmaker' (as well as Moe Norman - who I didn't know about until the early 90's). The other golfers like Grant Waite and Mac O'Grady were introduced.

Anyway Snead was beloved by many older golfers that I looked up to and had watched him play in part because he was tremendously long off the tee and made it look easy.

In fact, Mac O'Grady has told students that his 'model swing' is about 80% Snead and 20% Hogan as well as rating Hogan's swing a '99' on a scale up to 100.

Fellow pro Gardner Dickinson once wrote that he never saw shots (windows) hit from a golfer like Snead and even Hogan couldn't compare. Furthermore, the one guy it was reported that Hogan admittedly 'feared' was Snead.

When I think of Snead I usually harken back to an old TV special in black and white where they follow Snead playing a round of golf by himself. He made it look quite easy the entire round of golf and on one par-5 he went for in two and wound up in the creek, he calmly hit out of the creek to about 5-feet and made the putt for birdie.

Snead had a very long swing which was propelled by his big shoulder turn. He then double shifted down to the elbow plane releasing the clubhead very late with a snap release. Because he had such a big pivoting action and a snap release he was able to maximize his clubhead speed and make it look relatively easy doing so.

What can we learn from Sam's swing?

Well for starters, I think the length of the backswing is overblown in its importance to striking the ball well. It's generally thought that there's no way one can consistently control the ball with a long backswing. Not only did Snead have an extra long backswing, but Hogan's swing wasy always quite long...even after his car accident.

I think length of the backswing in large part is reliant on the golfer's ability to turn their shoulders. Snead had around 130 degrees of shoulder turn, so his backswing should be ong. Whereas somebody with about 90 degrees of shoulder turn should have a shorter swing than Snead. However, I don't see a lot of instances where a golfer should try to reduce their backswing shoulder turn.

It's also important to note Snead's impeccable footwork. Here's what Snead once said about footwork:

'Footwork is more important than most golfers realize. It's the foundation for your balance. I used to work on my footwork fundamentals by practicing barefoot in our backyard. When you swing barefoot, you experience the feeling of your feet anchoring or "rooting" you to the ground. At address, you feel as if your toes are almost up in the air and free. Your weight is established on the balls of your feet and somewhat back toward your heels--never out on the toes.' - Snead


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