Golf Digest Pays Lip Service To the Greats

The Modern Golf Swing industry (and Golf Digest’s Alex Meyers) are whom I’m referencing here, of course – they always pay lip service to the greats of the Classic Golf Swing era while completely ignoring what made them greats to begin with.

Before I get to the Golf Digest laugher, what made them great? The way they swung, either in the game or how they taught it, and Harvey Penick is one, in his first Little Red Book on the swing.

Thanks to MH for providing this quote from the Little Red Book:

“I am of the old school, not because it produces a more classic swing — which it does — but because letting the left heel come up is the best way to get the job done….

Keeping the left heel flat on the ground throughout the swing will shorten the player’s period of success.”

Hmm… you’d think that passage was from a letter he might have written to Tiger Woods, and it’s too bad it wasn’t Penick who taught TW how to swing as a youngster, because he’d almost assuredly still be playing and still be winning majors.

That is exactly what happened to TW – he’s a great player in history, probably the 2nd greatest ever after Jack Nicklaus, but he’ll never pass Nicklaus because the way he swung shortened his career, by at least a decade (last major won at 32 years old).

Another quote that MH found, but only summarized for me, from Tommy Armour’s “How to Play Your Best Golf All the Time,” back in the 1950s, in MH’s words:

… said to raise the heel and swing the left knee behind the ball, and warned of back injuries if you didn’t.

And this, friends, is why the modern golf swing industry is in such shambles – they have tried to re-invent the wheel, but they keep running up against the greatest of the greats of the classic golf swing era, and the quotes against swinging with restricted hips and planted leading heels are damning to their whole business.

They keep talking about the greats, but I don’t see anyone in the modern industry emulating the swings nor the teaching methodology.

Of course, the G.O.A.T. of all time also said, in his book “Golf My Way” (and I’m talking about Jack Nicklaus, if you didn’t know already), of swinging with a restricted hip turn:

I understand that there is a theory in golf today that the hips shouldn’t turn on the backswing.  The idea seems to be that the less you turn your hips, while still turning your shoulders, the more leverage you’ll generate.

It’s hogwash… you should never try to restrict your hip turn if you want to hit the ball a long way.

You know what impresses the modern swing guys more than anything about Jack Nicklaus’ career?

His longevity.

Because they all know that the clock is ticking on their bodies and careers, with the modern golf swing.

They just don’t know, because they’re being lied to by the people telling them how to swing, why the clock is ticking so fast.

“It’s the price of playing pro golf,” they shrug.


It’s the price of playing golf with a flawed swing theory that didn’t work when Harvey Penick and Tommy Armour were playing and teaching, didn’t work when Jack Nicklaus was winning majors, and doesn’t work now.

Just because guys are winning tournaments and majors with the modern golf swing doesn’t tell you anything, because they’re all playing that way, and someone has to win.

And the guys with mechanically-correct swings in the modern era?

Vijay Singh?

Phil Mickelson?

Bubba Watson?

All multiple major winners and Hall of Famers, either now or future.

And speaking of Golf Digest and Alex Myers, this latest piece doesn’t tell the whole story:

9 facts that will cheer up even the saddest of Tiger Woods fans

So there you go, Tiger Woods fans, you can rest easy! No? That doesn’t cheer you up much in this dark time? Well, here are some stats that should.

There have been 22 majors won by golfers 42 or older.

That’s good news for Woods, who will turn 42 in December.

Julius Boros won the 1968 PGA Championship at 48.

FORTY-EIGHT! So Tiger has plenty of time to add to his total of 14.

Tom Watson nearly won the 2009 British Open at 59.

FIFTY-NINE!!! Again, plenty of time.

Vijay Singh won 22 PGA Tour titles after turning 40.

A remarkable 65 percent of Singh’s wins, including the 2004 PGA Championship, came after the Big Fijian hit the Big Four-Oh.

Phil Mickelson turns 47 in June.

And do you see him slowing down? OK, so maybe a little, but Phil says he doesn’t even think about his age and that he plans to qualify for (at least) the next two Ryder Cup teams. That would put him in his 50s.

My response to this would be, “Not so fast, Mr. Myers…”

The modern swing guys are always pulling this apples vs oranges bait and switch deal, and here’s why it is:

Here’s another list, with the same names and one other fact about them to disabuse anyone hoping for the same outcome for Tiger Woods:

Julius Boros – Classic Golf Swing

Tom Watson – Classic Golf Swing

Vijay Singh – Classic Golf Swing (he has in recent years dabbled in planting his heel and has suffered injuries and won nothing while doing so – when he was winning in his 40’s, he was a classic swinger).

Phil Mickelson – Classic Golf Swing (again, like Vijay, has dabbled in restricting his hip turn in recent times and has won nothing, but did have two hernia surgeries recently for his troubles).

Tiger Woods – Modern Golf Swing

Now – which one of those names doesn’t belong there?

Yup… the guy who has won nothing in his 40’s, no majors since 32 and no Tour events since 37.

“Three Words – Classic Golf Swing…”

For what it’s worth, TW is finished, and certainly not going to join the names in Myers’ article for its “Greats In Their 40’s” list.

Not today, not next year, not ever.

Not while swinging in the Modern Golf Swing style, that is…



6 thoughts on “Golf Digest Pays Lip Service To the Greats

  1. targettom

    These classic players of old were not only more efficient swingers. When you see the footage of the greens they played on, they were very bumpy and slow, they appear to be not even as smooth as the fairways nowadays. Perhaps someone who was playing in the 60’s or 70’s could comment on whether that is an accurate observation. But seems to me that if they played on modern surfaces the best players from the 60’s and 70’s might have won even more majors.

    1. D Watts Post author

      They played on lower quality surface conditions and with lower quality equipment, and still managed to hit more fairways than today’s pros…

  2. doubou2014

    Play Lower Handicap Golf (1986) by Phil Rodgers:
    “Another aid to making a complete turn of the upper body and hips is to raise the left heel so only the forward third of the foot is on the ground… There will be less raising of the left foot when swinging the shorter irons, but there should be some movement. In any case, let it happen. Everyone needs some foot motion. It controls the pace and rhythm of the swing, aids balance and making full turns.”

    1. D Watts Post author

      Couldn’t have said it better myself, doubou.

      The modern golf swing is not going to be around forever, and when it’s gone, those who participated in its foisting upon the unsuspecting swinger will not look good in the glaring light of history.


  3. Mike Divot

    Some research ideas for Golf Digest. To help sell more … I mean, cheer up sad Tiger fans.

    Has anyone won a major while requiring a walking stick? How about two walking sticks?

    Anyone won a major in a wheelchair?

    Anyone won a major while lying flat on a gurney?

    Anyone won a major while in a full body cast?

    If so, there may be hope yet for Tiger!

    1. D Watts Post author

      I don’t blame Tiger’s fans for wishing he could do yet again what he did so many times in the past.

      I blame the modern swing gurus, and of course I lay some of the blame at his feet. He had Nicklaus posters on his bedroom wall as a kid growing up, I read somewhere.

      He should have studied that back swing a little more than he did…

Comments are closed.