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Swing Analysis: Tommy Bolt

Tommy Bolt, the 1958 US Open champion, didn’t join the Tour until he was in his 30’s, after serving in the army in WWII. He won 15 times between 1951 and 1961, and was known as one of the best ball strikers in his era, along with Hogan, Snead, Palmer, Middlecoff and a few others. There are not many swings of Bolt to be found anywhere so I was fortunate to find these, and they serve to give us a good idea of what Bolt’s swing was all about.
After watching him swing you should not be surprised that it is one of my favorites. He pretty much does everything I prefer to teach in a golf swing, and I use him as an example often in my lessons. We can start right off with his initiation of the swing with his pivot, from the ground up, which is counter to the conventional teaching to start with the upper body. We see a hugely deep hip movement in the backswing, with the right leg moving well back without fully straightening. The hands and arms move inward toward the body and arrive at the top with the left wrist cupped and the clubface somewhat open. In transition Bolt moves his hands well out toward the ball, indeed almost above the ball, in a sidearm throwing motion, which helps him recover from a slightly across the line shaft position at the top, and gets his right arm moving in front of his chest, utilizing the space that his pivot movement has garnered by keeping the hips deep in the forward swing. From there he uses a huge lateral drive to lean the club into the ball, as evidenced by the ending position of his left foot. All in all, one of the classic swings in golf history.


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