Over the years there are probably only a couple of people that I have taken advice from regarding my swing, my old friend Richard Kress and my best bud Mark Diamond. Richard is not a teaching pro but is a good player and a seeker of the highest order (he’s taken lessons from every teaching pro you could name) and has worked with me on his swing while playing with me and watching me play since the mid 80’s. I met Mark while playing the Goosie Space Coast mini-tour in the early 80’s and we have been friends ever since, playing and working together on our swings. Mark was out of the game for a time but has been working at Liberty for 7 years now teaching, playing with members and helping out with membership stuff. We see each other a few times a year (he goes to Brazil for most of the winter months) and always have stuff to talk about regarding our recent studies involving the golf swing. Mark knows my swing and the obstacles I face when trying to implement the things that I teach so I always listen to what he has to say when he has an idea that he thinks might help me. I don’t always end up executing what he describes but his ideas are original in nature and have at times helped me see things in a different light, thus helping me flesh out my own ideas and try different pathways toward prolonging my playing career and getting back to being more competitive.
In this case Mark watched me hit some shots, asked me what I was thinking, and told me that if I would think of moving the right hip both “upward” and deeper that it would cause less resistance in my hips and back and allow me to free up and increase my upper body turn for a longer swing and more power. His main example was Snead, and when I went to the Snead videos I saw exactly what he was talking about. I agreed with him because I had previously taught that the right hip moved up along the original angle of the pelvic tilt at address, although I had not been focusing on that point. We disagreed on the straightening of the right leg, although we eventually came to an agreement that the right leg can lose some of its flex, or “straighten”, without becoming completely “straight” or locked. I actually see Snead increasing his knee flex in his later swings (the Shell’s Hogan/Snead match) while in his earlier swings it seems as though he starts with very little knee flex at address to begin with and then maintains most of it. I have a particular problem of lifting midway in the backswing, so I am sensitive to the exact execution of this point, but I will keep an eye on what I am actually doing when I use different thoughts.
After going back again for a further look at what Snead was doing in particular (Jones is another great example of this type of lower body movement) I found that me previous assessment that Snead had “aimed right” might actually be Snead simply pulling his right foot well back off the foot line (parallel to the target line) and flaring it outward a considerable amount, much more than I had previously noted. The key to my change of opinion was focusing on Snead’s hip and shoulder alignment, which are both square to the target line, not his toe line, which indicates that he was not actually aligning “closed” but rather was pulling his right leg back (as did Hogan) and flaring his foot to open up the entire leg and hip and deepen it before the swing had even begun. When I tried this it seemed odd at first, almost like a drill in that it was aligned so radically different, but the freedom I found in the movement and the lessening of the stress on my back and hips was immediately noticeable. I am going to give this a try and I will report in on what comes of it. But I will tell you that I will do whatever it takes to prolong my playing career and to lessen the amount of pain I have to deal with when I play.