Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A Look at Different Swing Instruction - Part VII

Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, Part VI

In this part of the series I discuss Jimmy Ballard’s instruction.

Jimmy Ballard rose to fame in the early 80’s teaching the likes of Hal Sutton, Sandy Lyle, Curtis Strange and others. Ballard was the protégé of Sam Byrd a former professional baseball player with the New York Yankees and later on became a professional golfer and playing on the PGA Tour alongside greats like Sam Snead and Ben Hogan.

Byrd was a believer in ‘left side connection’, something he learned from his baseball playing days where teammates like Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig would stick handkerchiefs under their lead armpit while they would take batting practice.

Byrd later worked with Ben Hogan and gave him his thoughts on the swing.

Ballard was working out of Pell City, Alabama and having great success with many tour pros…particularly Curtis Strange and Hal Sutton. Despite being in a small town in Alabama and at a small driving range, Tour pros sought him out left and right. Eventually he found himself at nicer ranges in Florida and wrote his instruction book ‘How to Perfect Your Golf Swing.’

Ballard had tumultuous relationships with the PGA and its instructors, particularly Jim Flick, Dr. Gary Wiren and David Leadbetter. Ballard’s teaching belief is that you use the big muscles in the body to hit the ball by incorporating and pivot that ‘hits the ball’ whereas Flick and Wiren were in the opposite direction of teaching philosophy. Ballard also doesn’t believe in a straight left arm in the backswing and wants *both* elbows pointing at the ground in the backswing.

Ballard wound up having an issue with David Leadbetter who took much of his teaching for his own work and created the ‘Swing Link’ training aid which was a direct ripoff of Ballard’s left side connection.

The Ballard swing usually features a sizeable move off the ball and the backswing is more or less a folding of the right arm and then thru left side connection the golfer will fire their right side.

PROS OF BALLARD SWING: In a recent chat Brian Manzella was asked if he had to pick a method instruction to teach he would take Jimmy Ballard’s method. I agree with this assessment because the left side connection (#4 Pressure Point) is a proven way to hit the ball well because it helps produce a pivot driven swing.

CONS OF THE BALLARD SWING: It’s not the most complete method of golf instruction and the big move off the ball is difficult to get down and can lead to problems with the low point.

PROS USING BALLARD SWING: Hal Sutton, Curtis Strange, Rocco Mediate, Sandy Lyle, Paul Azinger.


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