It was a long par 3 (at least back in 1983 you could call it long at 205 yards) at Rio Pinar CC in Orlando, as I stood on the tee with my old college roommate John Salamone and John’s buddy from Rochester, Jeff Sluman. Slu was just a little guy (I’m no giant at 5’8”, 145 lbs.-but I was bigger than Jeff), but when he took a 3 iron and hit it straight up in the air at the pin with about a one yard fade to about 10 feet I just stared at the green and commented that I had never in my life hit a shot like that. It was ball striking at its finest, and Slu has gone on to have a stellar career at every level, winning a major (the 1988 PGA), as well as 5 other PGA Tour titles and 4 more Champions Tour events.
Jeff’s swing is deceptively simple, and the reason I say “deceptively” is that the release action he employs is actually quite complex with regards to what the hands have to do to square the face from a high approach. He sets up amazingly close to the ball, and then creates space for his arms and hands by deepening his right leg in the backswing and keeping the hips deep in the forward swing. He employs quite a bit of extension in the backswing with a relatively late wrist cock, and rarely gets the club to parallel at the top. He keeps the clubface looking downward in the takeaway, which keeps the right arm above the left for most of the backswing and causes the shaft to be fairly vertical at left arm parallel and crossed at the top. From there he initiates his downswing with a hard leftward push of the hips and leans the club back onto the plane, setting up a perfectly synchronized impact with his left wrist bending the club down into impact while his hips fly through the impact area. You won’t find a better lower body move through the ball, which is probably why Slu is pound for pound among the longest hitters in the game.