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"The Finest Golf Swing I Ever Saw"

Not my words in today's title - rather those of none other than Ben Hogan - re the recently passed Mickey Wright's golf swing (click above on the classic book cover for a 'live' view of this poetic, and powerful motion..).  Yet it wasn't just her swing that distinguished Wright as arguably the greatest female player ever.  Consider:

- She won 82 LPGA tournaments
- She captured 13 Majors in an eight year span
- She remains the only player in PGA Tour history to hold all four major titles at the same time

But, how in the name of ripped drives, flushed irons and holed putts did she do it - I mean - with no 'technology' at her disposition?

Read on, friends, and let's consider the facts (and a myth or two), accompanied by Wright's own words (taken from an interview with Golf Digest's Guy Yokom in 2017)...

FACT: Wright had no Doppler radar device, launch monitor, nor 3D motion capture system, spitting out projected angles, rotational speeds, yardages and data (supposedly essential for performance).

Wright: "My first teacher was a man named Johnny Bellante. During our first session at La Jolla Country Club, he broke off the limb of a eucalyptus tree and handed it to me. 'I want you to make this branch sing,' he said. To make a loud noise when I swished the branch through the air, I had to apply as much speed as I could, smooth but forceful. What a wonderful first lesson that was. It taught me the sensation of swinging through the ball, not at it.

When I was 12, I began taking part in clinics put on by a pro named Fred Sherman at Mission Valley Country Club in San Diego. They were at night, and a lot of people came out to watch. The range was lit by these enormous lights in the distance, similar to a baseball stadium.  At the height of the evening, Fred would bring me forward to demonstrate. 'Mickey, show the people how you can make the ball disappear,' he'd say, and I would drive the ball so it went out of sight, still climbing as it passed beyond the lights. Over the years, when I needed a big drive, I'd whisper to myself, Make it disappear."

Hmm... sounds, pictures and disappearing acts.  How's that for high tech?

"The finest golf swing I ever saw"

FACT: Wright had no access to pressure plates or mats.

MYTH: Ground Reaction Forces (and gravity & physics, for that matter) had not yet been invented, and simply getting stronger and more mobile will prevent injury.

Wright: "I've been trying the new swing ideas I keep hearing about, things I see players doing on TV. They leave me cold, to be honest. I watch the way players keep their feet planted, their backs perfectly straight and rigid with their lower bodies hardly moving at all, and just know they're going to get hurt. They look overly "leveraged," not the perfect word perhaps, but one all those angles bring to mind. It's just the opposite of how I learned, which is the swing happening from the ground up. I guess I just don't understand the modern way. One thing's for sure, I see an awful lot of players wearing medical tape. Hands, arms, legs, back, everywhere. That can't be a good sign.

I had one golf-related injury my whole career, a ganglion cyst in my left wrist. I did sprain my ankle twice, both times while wearing high-heels at cocktail parties. I don't count those."

"The finest golf swing I ever saw"

FACT: Wright received ongoing feedback via consistent and competent coaching and guidance.

MYTH: 'position' teaching is ineffective.

Wright: "The most influential teacher I had was Harry Pressler. Every Saturday, my mother would drive me 2½ hours up to San Gabriel Country Club to see him for a 30-minute lesson. My swing, which people have praised, really is Harry's swing. He was adamant that there was one good swing. Club square going back. Right hand under the shaft in the 'tray' position at the top, the club at a 45-degree angle. Clubface square halfway down, at impact and into the follow-through.

He would physically move me into these positions so I could train my muscles to flow into them naturally. My swing might have had style in terms of rhythm and tempo, but in truth it was somewhat manufactured. But it was a swing for a lifetime, and boy, did it work."

You looking for esthetically pretty, or functional?  The golf ball doesn't care what your swing looks like  - so best find & develop  a swing (and a non method/model-based teacher) that works for you.  One that makes your golf ball 'behave' better.

"The finest golf swing I ever saw"

FACT: Wright used no statistical programs, game management systems, green reading charts, nor ultrasound and/or high speed camera-based instruments, to assist her in measuring relevant parameters and matters.

In 1961 and 1962, Wright won 10 LPGA tournaments; in 1963, 13.  In a four-year period beginning in 1961, she won 44 tournaments, including eight major championships.

"The finest golf swing I ever saw"

MYTH: Reading greens with the assistance of your feet is a modern phenomenon, hence an unavailable skill and condition back in the day. 


The trendy (and highly questionable) statements I constantly hear from my golf brethren, and their overly dependent students:

"If you can't measure it, you can't manage it."

Amen.  And of course, the human mind, body, spirit system has ZERO capacity for measuring anything, right?  It's why, throughout your day, you incessantly stub your toes, bump into stationary objects and are unable to find & push those little buttons and icons on your blue-lit dumbphone.

"Why guess when you can measure?"

Amen, part II.  'Guess' you better think about & measure the amount of flexion and extension necessary in your knees, the varying rate of acceleration and negative acceleration of your entire body, and ideal positioning of arms and hands for counterbalancing purposes, when you squat to use the toilet.  Let alone the exact distance your unconsciously chosen finger is (and the perfect amount of pressure needed) from the flusher...

'Guess' you better spend 5-10 minutes reading the putt - even though via your five senses, you have in the neighborhood of 11,000,000 (how's that for a #, people?) bits of information live-streaming into your system every second. 

'Guess' you didn't ever realize that hitting the ball farther off the tee, then somewhere (anywhere, please - short-siding yourself makes those #'s BIGGER on your scorecard, as you've undoubtedly noticed) on the green, and better managing your distance on putts, were important aspects to shooting lower scores, huh?

FACT: The human system is the finest measuring device we've ever seen.  By far.  No comparison (kinda like Mickey Wright's golf swing).  Yet so many of us have chosen to flip its switch to "off" in favor of plug & play toys.  Pity... maybe it's time you learned to turn yours back ON.

That's where I come in... Live in my learning environment at Eugene Country Club, or via the virtual world (ah... there are some useful aspects to tech after all).

Virtual coaching available March 1 for a select few.  Golf swing video and stat review.  Development of an ideal practice regime for you.  Guidance and referral in the equipment domain - those sticks in your bag, and your physical body.  A consistent, competent and on-going feedback loop.  The (W)right approach. 


"Can machines think? ... make mistakes, fall in love, enjoy strawberries and cream?"

-- Alan Turing



          ~ CS ~
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