Back Specialist Calls Out The Modern Golf Swing – You’ve All Been Warned

rory mcilroy kneeWell, it seems no one will have an excuse after today – anyone who is trying to play a power game or hit the ball a long distance (which is, in essence, the “power game”) with a modern golf swing model is putting themselves at risk of back injuries.

The article I’m going to quote here from a Golf Channel online piece by Matt Adams describes the doctor I’m about to reference as:

Dr. Sandy Kunkel, Indiana Orthopedic Surgeon, independent examiner for the NFL, team physician for the Indiana Pacers from 1988 to 2004 and one of the nation’s leading back specialists

OK?  Does this man have the requisite authority to comment on sports motion?  I’m betting you’ll say he does, and he condemns the “modern golf swing” in no uncertain terms.

First, this is about Rory McIlroy, but the doctor opines that:

… stress fractures of this nature are “extremely rare” in golfers, even those of McIlroy’s caliber.

“They are typical in rowing or upper body weight bearing athletes,” Kunkel said. “Stress fractures are caused by an accumulation of micro-trauma. They are tiny fractures or cracks in the bone. Usually the body just heals them. If you do not give it time to heal, it can result in a full fracture. Typically, an injury of this sort will take a minimum of six weeks to heal.”

Accumulation of micro-trauma – as in, hundreds and thousands of swings, repeated over time, that are not mechanically-sound, and produce a tiny degree of damage with each repetition.

I have been saying for years that you can play golf with any swing,  you can win tournaments with any swing, but if the swing is not mechanically-sound, then you’re going to suffer the consequences down the road, and they really aren’t worth it.

“Why aren’t they worth it, DJ?”

Because – if you can play golf and win tournaments with any swing, then what is stopping people from swinging in a mechanically-correct manner that won’t cause them these types of injuries?

Answer me that, modern swing apologists out there – if the swing doesn’t matter, and the score is what matters – why is everyone refusing to change their swings if it’s causing injuries?

Any insurance specialist will tell you that avoidable risk is unacceptable, and anyone looking for insurance who refuses to avoid those risks will pay steeply for insurance, if not be rejected altogether.  In fact, if I were offering sports insurance, modern golf pros would not be able to afford my premiums – because I’d know exactly what was coming.


And remember, – the good doctor didn’t say that ALL golf swings are hard on the body:

“The modern golf swing is hard on the body,” he said. “To have athletes in their 20s experiencing these types of injuries is very concerning for the long-term.”

Jack Nicklaus was winning majors in his 40’s after being one of the longest players ever, and he did it with a classic golf swing.  Arnie Palmer was a long hitter in his day and played into his 80’s, as did Sam Snead, who would out-drive many modern players with a persimmon and balata, and Vijay Singh, Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson, all modern players who use a classic swing, will be playing golf as long as they want to play golf…

Because they use a mechanically-sound golf swing model.

The end!

The modern golf swing is not more powerful than the classic golf swing action, because the classic golf swing action is mechanically-correct for creating maximum power and leverage – if you swing with a modern golf swing model, you can play very solid golf without hurting yourself if you stay within the parameters of said swing model.

Meaning, if you want to play golf, it doesn’t matter what swing you want. However, if you’re using a modern golf swing and you find yourself not hitting the ball as far as you’d like to – then you had better change to a more mechanically-correct model so you don’t hurt yourself as you start swinging harder and harder.

There is no excuse.

I read on a certain golf blog, the following comment:

I think this just shows how athletic golf has become and how close to the red line these guys have to push themselves. Careers will become shorter over time and more injury prone but the standard should continue to improve. I think we are being naïve if we think that fitness, strength work etc. isn’t an important part of the game these days.

I’m not going to identify the commenter, nor the blog, because this paragraph above is sillyJack Nicklaus didn’t have an athletic swing?  Arnie Palmer didn’t? Sam Snead didn’t?  Jimmy Thomson (once drove it 400 yards with balata and persimmon, back in the 40’s, people!) didn’t?

Jimmy Thomson’s “Unathletic” Swing

Every sport has bigger, stronger and more athletic players than it used to, but you don’t see other sports’ players falling apart simply from performing the athletic motions in their sports.

Football and hockey players are suffering an epidemic of concussions and they’ve always suffered pretty gruesome injuries, due to their being contact sports – but when’s the last time you saw a hockey player throw out his back with a slapshot, or a quarterback’s arm fall of during a throw?

You don’t, because they are taught mechanically-sound motion, in fact, all they do is work on their fundamentals, which are mechanically-sound, while modern golfers are out there breaking their backs with swing models they don’t even have to use!

What on earth is wrong with Vijay Singh’s, Phil Mickelson’s, Bubba Watson’s swings that people can’t swing with a similar model?

How do the greatest golfer of all time (Jack Nicklaus), the all-time winner in Tour events (Sam Snead) and the greatest amateur of all time (Bobby Jones) all get ignored with regards to their swing mechanics when players can’t stay healthy with the modern swing?

If any swing will do, as modern swing proponents keep saying, then fine – pick one that doesn’t break your back!

It’s as simple as that.





4 thoughts on “Back Specialist Calls Out The Modern Golf Swing – You’ve All Been Warned

  1. targettom

    Not to mention Tom Watson and his exploits.

    Invariably when they show Bubba Watson’s swing on TV they will start with, “You wouldn’t want to teach this swing” and/or “…too many moving parts…”. Didn’t the guy win the Masters? And he ain’t in his 20’s either

    1. D Watts Post author

      Invariably when they show Bubba Watson’s swing on TV they will start with, “You wouldn’t want to teach this swing” and/or “…too many moving parts…”.

      Whoever says that, while praising the harpoon-dropping, jumping/snapping/twisting of the planted heel guys, is frankly, lying or a fool. No one has more moving parts than these restricted-hip guys, and all in the wrong places.

      Tom Watson, yes! Thanks for the reminder, “Ol’ Tam” certainly deserves a mention. 😀

  2. Justin Case

    You’ve been saying this for years DJ. One wonders how many more years it will take. Keep up the good fight

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