Who Said It – Harvey Penick… Or MCS?

I received some quotes from Uncle JJ taken from Harvey Penick’s “Little Red Book” (20th Ed.), and I have to admit, just about every one of them would nail some MCS principle or concept.

I don’t think there are two better-known books about the golf swing than Hogan’s “Five Lessons” and the “Little Red Book.”

Especially interesting is the quote about the down swing you’ll see in there, which is pertinent to the down swing “Drop & Pop” treatment from earlier in the week.

Here are some nuggets of sound swinging from one of most respected golf instructors from the 20th century:


On the Modern Golf Swing’s Worst Feature, The Planted Leading Heel:

“… a Seasoned Citizen must let the left heel come off the ground in the backswing….  Some modern teachers demand that their students keep the left heel on the ground.  I don’t agree with that teaching for players of any age, but especially not for a Seasoned Citizen.” p.56

“Don’t raise the left heel, just let it come up as it will want to do.” p.57

“In my opinion, keeping the left heel flat on the ground throughout the swing will shorten the player’s period of success.” p.61

On the Right-Biased setup:

“Before you can stay behind the ball, you must get behind it.  I mean set up with your head behind the ball and keep your head behind the ball.” p.75

On the Back Swing Pivot:

The Turn: “Turn your body to the right with your weight shifting to your right foot, and let your left foot gently come up about an inch.  It’s like turning to say howdy to someone on your right….

Now let your weight shift back to your left foot at the same time your right elbow starts back toward your side, and continue turning as if to say howdy to someone on your left.” p.87

On The Down Swing:

The Magic Move: 

“… to start your downswing, let your weight shift to your left foot while bringing your right elbow down to your body.  This is one move, not two….  Your head will stay well back.” p.96


Now, how many of you have watched the “E = MCS” video (or even some of the previous MCS works) and are scratching your heads, saying “DJ must have read what Penick wrote about the down swing with the feet and the right elbow!!”???

Well, I can tell you that it is coincidence – it’s simply a matter of the proper mechanics being the proper mechanics, and you’ll find much of MCS in the greatest players’ and teachers’ swing philosophies, whether in very similar language or not.

What I found gratifying was JJ’s comment to me (which I’ve said more than once) that:

At this point in my understanding of your work, I realize that many of your conclusions are resurrections of standards from the greatest golfers and teachers in history – standards that have been discarded like common trash by the modern swingers.

What you have done, however, is synthesize these standards into a remarkably simple, safe, and fundamentally sound swing.  With one caveat – the exaggerated right leaning setup is your truly original thought.

I’ve said just about what he said above several times:

Most of MCS principles are exactly what the Classic Golf Swing players did themselves back in the day, that Modern Golf Swing convention has robbed today’s players of the benefits of these principles, and the only thing I really put into MCS that wasn’t a bedrock of the Classic Swing is the right-biased address, which is more right than the players of old, who were closer to center-biased.

However, if you look at a young Jack Nicklaus and myself about a year ago…


It seems that the G.O.A.T. had at some point in his playing career the same right-biased setup as MCS, and his later instruction on how to swing definitely adopts the right-biased setup:


If you have read Brandel Chamblee’s seminal “The Anatomy of Greatness” book – which I reviewed at his publisher’s request (and heartily recommended of my own volition) last yearon returning the golf swing to the Classic Golf Swing days, you’ll find many of these same principles were nearly universal in the bygone age – and that’s why many golf fans were able to enjoy seeing their favorite golfers play extended years into their 50’s and 60’s on the Senior/Champions Tour.

To be honest, I think people would get far more out of books such as Chamblee’s and Penick’s than anything found in the “Five Lessons.”


Today’s players are struggling to make it through their 30’s without suffering career-ending injuries.

Sadly, Tiger Woods, the greatest player ever in the modern golf swing age, will likely never play a Champions Tour event, as he’s been finished with regular golf now for the better part of the last four years (his 1st back surgery was in April 2014 at the age of 38, and he really hasn’t played much since, let alone do anything of note), so he didn’t even make it out of his 30’s in one piece.

And Tiger is merely the forerunner of many shortened careers due to Modern Golf Swing-incurred injuries, trust me – the MGS wasn’t so dangerous as it was just difficult for the slower swingers

With Tiger’s advent however, working out and gyms became part of many young players’ careers, and we have yet to see the full toll of this swing method on the back of the power swingers currently in their 20’s and 30’s…

There’s an old saying that I find apt, when talking about golf swing models and instructors – “They don’t make’em like they used to!”


Back Pain or Back Injury Swinging a Golf Club?

Lacking Power, Speed, Distance and or Consistency? 

Need A Swing That Is More Easily Maintained?


If You Answered “Yes” To Any Of The Above Questions, The Answer Is In The Formula For The Golf Swing:

“E = MCS” The Swing Video

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10 thoughts on “Who Said It – Harvey Penick… Or MCS?

  1. Harleyweedwhacks

    As you’ve told me, MCS isn’t really new. You’re simply restating what the proper mechanics are from long ago, that have been lost to today’s standard of swinging.

    Who’s idea was it to make a new golf swing? Especially one that isn’t proper, not only that, it doesn’t work, considering how many people never improve at the game.

    I think it’s all corrupt business, to be honest. The more the players struggle, the more they pay to get better, or try to.

    1. D Watts Post author

      Many theories on the origin of the modern swing, HWW. There’s the Ben Hogan angle (where Hogan’s instruction not to let the right hip slide was translated into not letting the hips turn), and more… at this point, we may never know, but I’ll be content to just see it slide into the obscurity that it deserves, to be frank.

  2. John kunesh

    I have been a big fan of Penick’s books and I have noticed for a while the consistencies between Penick’s teachings and MCS, and those mentioned in the article are not the only examples. Penick was a master one on one teacher who taught thousands ranging from major champions to beginners with minimal athletic ability, and his books reflect tips, feelings, etc that consistently worked over time.

    MCS is unique in that is a complete overview of a golf swing from setup to finish. The fact that it is entirely consistent with Penick’s teachings is support that DJ has found the model we should all be using. Penick’s books are complimentary to MCS and presented in such a different way, but still very relevant.

    1. D Watts Post author

      Thanks for popping in, John – I couldn’t ask for anything more from my readers than what you wrote above. Much appreciated! 🙂

  3. targettom

    yesterday Kostis “analyzed” the swing of Thomas Pieters. He has the firmly planted lead foot, restricted hips. PK used his worn-out phrase “this is the swing of the future”. So anyone dumb enough to listen to him is going to regret it. I suppose Pieters can be put on the future disabled list if he doesn’t change his ways.

    p.s. PK seemed to forget Jason Day’s name when he was interviewing him after the round. CBS needs to retire him and McCord, they ruin the show IMO.

    1. D Watts Post author

      Kostis praises whatever swing he’s looking at, because he has to be “neutral,” apparently:

      Too bad his viewers don’t know what he really thinks of Pieter’s modern swing and others like it:

  4. targettom

    What a phony. If he really was a professional or a swing expert, he could analyze TP’s swing, note the restricted hips, and just say “this may cause back problems down the road because the lower back is DESIGNED to turn with the upper back, not against it”.

    How hard would that be? Honestly I think for most golfers turning the hips probably requires more instruction than restricting them, partly because most people can’t do the turn without swaying or sliding; golf teachers should be in favour of it.

    1. D Watts Post author

      If he really was a professional or a swing expert, he could analyze TP’s swing, note the restricted hips, and just say “this may cause back problems down the road because the lower back is DESIGNED to turn with the upper back, not against it”.

      I really can’t argue with your logic here, Tom. The analyst’s job is to analyze, not cheer-lead. At least, that’s the way I see it.

      And proper/improper technique does not change based upon the swinger being looked at. That’s the way I see it…

  5. Terry

    As a caveat Kostis did say that Pieters is very flexible and recommended that people not as flexible may want to release the front heel on the backswing. I was surprised when I heard this and thought DJ may be rubbing off on him a bit LOL.

    Pieters has a very good modern type swing , similar to Dustin Johnsons IMO and uses his legs/hips well, and doesn’t jump out of of his shoes on the downswing/ stable lead foot .

    1. D Watts Post author

      The only problem is that he calls the modern swing “the swing of the future.” No, it’s not – it’s the swing of today, and will be gone one day, or have faded into little-used obscurity.

      Unfortunately, people like Kostis are delaying that day every time they say anything positive about it.

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