I took a lesson with Mr. William Rose, emeritus golf professional of Wakonda Club. He is a walking treasury of golf. He once spent two hours at Bobby Jones’ residence where they had a fascinating conversation about everything but golf. Mr. Rose has that knack for distilling golf knowledge into the simple facts. Thirty minutes on the range with him resulted in untwisting of that nasty duck hook and introduction to a controlled power fade, which I always thought was the better shot to have if you plan on trying to pinpoint your shots. With a slight adjustment, I still had my draw which I hammered out against the far fence on Fleur Drive. What I enjoyed immensely was the time spent with Mr. Rose who is a one degree separation from the deep roots of golf. Through him, I am only two degrees of separation from Harry Vardon, Francis Ouimet, and Gene Sarazen (through Bobby Jones). He personally trained club pros that went on to staff many of the elite clubs throughout the nation. And above all, he is a great human being.
Recently took a lesson from Josh Zander, who will teach students the one-plane swing where he feels it is appropriate. Now, my point is not to debate the relative merits of the so-called one-plane and two-plane swings, but to remark on the golf swing’s recent evolution. When I began playing golf in the 90s, there was a fairly established golf swing orthodoxy, and in many ways, the teachings of leadbetter, harmon and mcclean did not seem to vary so much from one another. Being a golf tinkerer, I took a lot of this in, and assumed that faldo, with his rotating left forearm, had a perfect swing (to be succeeded by tiger’s version of the perfect swing circa 2000). There was no debate in my mind as to whether some form of absolute golf swing perfection existed in nature. Enter Jim Hardy, Hank Haney and Tiger’s break with Butch Harmon. Many, many golf commentators (including Faldo on network) roundly criticized Tiger’s new laid-off looking swing, and his relatively abysmal performance seemed to support these views. But then, one looked around and started realizing that so many of the players on tour did not actually possess the high swing that virtually every publicly accessible golf instructor seemed to propound. Folks like Vijay, Zach Johnson, Trevor Immelman, Chad Campbell, all seemed to have much flatter swings that we would learn in our golf lessons. Then you would see things like the stack and tilt, which seemed much closer to a reverse pivot than one would obtain using the x-factor swing. Guys like Padraig Harrington were seen trying to emulate Tiger’s new swing and Tiger himself started to be one-upping his own impossible standards from his two-plane days. Mysteriously, the criticism started to fade away. Many instructors, understandably, were miffed because their entire school of thought was being challenged. I read one instructor indicating that he felt that the recreational golfer was going to be set back many years by the confusion that these “newfangled” (as newfangled as ben hogan’s swing) swings would create. I submit that the golfing public can only benefit by these evolutionary moves. It’s great to know that there are many ways to skin a cat. Golf is a tremendous sport because to the golf ball, there are no questionable reffing calls, no workplace politics, and no biased judges—whether your furyk or faldo, the golf ball only knows the moment of impact. The golf ball plays no favorites with phenoms like Michelle Wie or sentimental favorites like David Duval. And the ball certainly doesn’t care whether you speak English. So, whatever works for you should be your orthodoxy. For the record, the one-plane swing does work for me. I only took one shared lesson, and it may be psychological, but I feel that there are fewer things to worry about when I swing. If something is going wrong, there aren’t too many different places to look. What’s amazing to me is that my whole notion of what a beautiful swing looks like has been upended as a result of this process. It may change tomorrow, but I am psyched to play this weekend.