You would have some “greats” in a game that were not so much great athletes as they were highly skilled in the other aspects of a game or sport and therefore excelled.
For a player like Tiger Woods, his skill in the game is beyond question, but all of the things like putting touch, skill around the greens and the like, such as always choosing the right shot at the right time when in trouble, which was how he managed to win so much and dominate, is something that is beside athletic ability or greatness.
Tom Kite had one of the best games around from 100 yards and in (he was one of the first to put three wedges into his golf bag and his philosophy was to try to get the ball “up and down” from anywhere within 100 yards of the green), and was the leading all-time money winner when TW turned pro, but no one is going to call Tom Kite a great athlete. That’s the point I’m making.
And here, let me not confuse anyone who thinks I’m stating Tiger Woods isn’t a great athlete – he is. What he isn’t, is the greatest athlete ever to play golf, nor even close to the greatest athlete ever, period.
The first claim is disproved by his inability to figure out the golf swing, and the second would be laughable, however he swung, as I’ve said, when you look at other great athletes in sporting history.
Now, in the matter of Tiger Woods not being able to figure out a golf swing that wouldn’t damage his body, let’s look at one of history’s greatest athletes, the immortal Michael Jordan, and how he swings a golf club, and when I’m finished, I’m betting you will look at his golf swing in a different way.
As in, bad, perhaps, in the comparison with the greatest swings in the game, but a mechanically-sound swing nonetheless, and therefore one that won’t hurt him, which is the most important criterion for longevity, which is the one area (besides hitting fairways) which will prevent Tiger Woods from being the greatest ever golfer.
TW had the best decade of golf, no one will question, from ’97 to ’07 (in terms of majors, only his ’08 U.S. Open win at Torrey Pines comes outside of that time period), but Jack Nicklaus’ career is the greater one, which is the thesis I will repeat until TW comes back to win 18 majors.
If we look at MJ’s golf swing, I can see superior athletic “intelligence” in his golf swing than in any of Tiger Woods’ swing models, even when he was the world’s best.
Tiger dominated the world for years with different swings, but they wrecked his body, so while his skill at getting that ball in the hole was unrivaled, his lack of athletic intelligence (I’ve said before and I’ll repeat, persisting with an athletic motion that is destroying your body is not very intelligent, athletically or otherwise, when there are other and better ways to do it) led him to where he is now.
Looking at MJ, look at how short his back swing is, and I told you yesterday that the top position would tell you a lot when you looked closely:
- His short back swing comes from the ground up – he was taught a modern golf swing in which you nail down the leading heel and swing the torso against restricted hips, correct?
- Well, what MJ is showing you is that he’s no dummy – he is one of the world’s greatest ever athletes and by large acclaim, the G.O.A.T. in the sport of basketball, correct? So why isn’t he finishing that back swing by further twisting his torso against the barely-moved hips?
- Because he’s no dummy – it doesn’t matter what he was told in learning the swing – Michael Jordan is not going to break his back by trying to move his hands higher up and further behind him by doing it that way. He’s keeping his shoulders in relation to his hips in the maximum natural turn position and not rubber-banding past that point, which I’m sure he easily could.
- However, his athletic “self-preservation” instincts won’t allow it. I’m sure he tried a longer back swing at some point in his golf life, and discovered that he didn’t like what happened to his lower back when he did so, or he simply refused to even entertain the notion of rubber-banding.
So, let’s look at this action, and follow me, if you will, in the numbered stills of the sequence below the points:
- You’ll see how his hip turn will be restricted not only by the planed leading heel, but by the deep knee bend he has at address. So right off the bat, he will have a very restricted hip turn, meaning not much at all.
- The outside takeaway doesn’t really signify much, as he will drop the club inside very nicely on the transition.
- There, MJ has reached the maximum back swing turn if he allows his hip turn to dictate how deep his hands get, instead of forcing the swing past this point by rubber-band twisting his lower back to get the hands higher and further behind him. In short, that’s as long as you can safely make your back swing with hips that restricted from the deep knee bend and planted heel, but he’s “locked” the hands and hips together nicely, as you’ll see in the down swing.
- He’s dropped the club nicely on plane.
- Impact, nice right arm extension and a flexed leading leg, no sign of snapping of the leading leg or rolling/jumping to try to get more power.
- A “Swing Left” finish, but remember MJ played minor league baseball and it’s likely no one pointed out to him the difference between a baseball swing angle and a golf swing angle, and notice the lack of any straining in the lower back or hip/waist area, or in the legs, which is where most golfers are injuring themselves with the Modern Golf Swing.
Conclusion: MJ does the best he can with his athleticism, with a flawed and athletically un-sound golf model that he uses because he was taught flawed Modern Golf Swing mechanics, but does so in a very athletic way, and obviously refuses to do the one thing required in a modern golf swing, which is to gradually or quickly wreck various parts of his body with unsound moves once in motion.
So, at the end of all of this, you’re left with a great athlete who, not unlike Charles Barkley, has been taught an un-athletic way to swing a golf club but who follows the proper way to move the body and who even has a very connected and athletically sound down swing action from the flawed top position:
Watch the hands and the right knee work together to the ball and impact, his nice extension release and the total lack of violence in this action – smooth and athletic, and much like what you’d see in a baseball swing.
I’ve mentioned Charles Barkley, and he falls into the same position – a great athlete (or former athlete, as he doesn’t much keep up with keeping in shape) who was never going to be able to hit a decent ball with the Modern Golf Swing way of doing it:
What Charles experienced during his “Haney Project” time was what I call “Drilling to Fail.”
I went through it myself when I took up the game. I came from a lifetime of sports, from baseball to hockey, track & field and basketball, and I excelled at all of them.
The first time someone taught me how to hold a club and swing, I missed the ball completely and nearly fell over.
So, during the “Haney Project,” Barkley was swinging with that unnatural swing and stance thousands and thousands of times, almost like learning how to hit a ball blind-folded or in the dark.
That’s fine for the driving range, where it doesn’t matter where the ball goes and you can hit a dozen bad shots before you hit a good one.
You’re just going through the mechanical motions, and as long as you train your eyes to overcome what they’re seeing and follow all of the little adjustments to overcome the flaws in your stance, grip and ball positioning, you’ll begin to make contact. You might even hit some solid shots.
But the swing and the stance are flawed, and the minute you get out on the golf course, where every shot counts, you forget about all of the drilling and the little positions you were taught, and you revert back to athletic instinct and hand-eye coordination, as you would have done in a basketball game, or baseball, or whatever sport you played.
He can drill all he wants, but with the planted heel back swing and improper positions you get with that, Barkley’s athletic instincts short-circuit on the transition and he’s left flailing at the ball.
My take from this – Michael Jordan is a much better athlete than he is a golfer, but only because no one has taught him a proper, athletic golf swing motion, and if someone ever did – the man is 6’6″ (1.98cm) and still in fabulous shape – he’s be hitting the ball Dustin Johnson distances, just as Charles Barkley would be, if he found a way to properly leverage his own swing with an athletic model.
The point remains, say what you will about MJ’s golf swing, but it shows athleticism and great body awareness, and contains the most important element in a golf swing – the mechanical soundness to not risk injury due to breaking the rules of athletic motion – the first one being that a proper motion doesn’t cause injury in any but freak circumstances.
The way MJ practiced and drilled during his career (he obviously subscribed to Einstein’s statement that genius is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration, the man practiced longer and harder than anyone before him), I would say without fear of ridicule that Michael Jordan could have been every bit as great in golf as he was in basketball, given the proper swing instruction when he was starting out.
Sadly, he took up retired golfing in the Modern Golf Swing age, so we’ll never see what basketball’s G.O.A.T. could have done with a golf club.
We know already though, that he’s already better than Tiger Woods in one regard – he isn’t going to hurt himself swinging a golf club, however much he plays or however hard he swings.
He just won’t be winning any majors… but he’ll still be out there when TW has hung up the spikes due to his physical ailments acquired… from swinging a 13oz (369 gram) golf club.
nt to learn more about the MCS Golf Swing Theory? Try one of DJ’s “Secrets of the MCS” video shorts available via download.
Or you can download the very latest MCS Golf Swing video “MCS – Perfect Pivot“ based on the flawless pivot action of Ben Hogan.**
**”MCS – Perfect Pivot” is Part 3 of the “MCS Golf Swing Trilogy,” now available for download!