Overhead View Of Jack Nicklaus Shows Interesting Things

Thanks to BM for reminding me of  the existence of overhead video showing Jack Nicklaus’ driver swing.

If you’re interested in Jack’s “Golf My Way” video, you can find it here on Youtube. The overhead part from which I took the below shots to make a couple of Gif.s is at 45:00 of the video.

I like this view for what it shows, and it proves three things about a proper golf swing, because Jack’s was as close to the optimal swing as you’ll likely find from the PGA Tour, with just some setup flaws that affect the motion.

First off, before I even address the points I intended to make about this overhead shot, note how stable Jack’s head is on the back pivot – anyone who advocates moving the head on the back pivot did not win 18 majors on the Tour.

Just looking at the swing from above shows you one very noticeable thing if you look for it – Nicklaus releases the club into the ball and if you showed anyone else doing this in the Modern Golf Swing world, this move would be denigrated as “flipping” or “flippy” through the ball.

No attempt to hold off the release or create a bowed left wrist – he simply cocks the wrists on the back pivot and then releases the club at the swing bottom.

When I draw target lines, you’ll see something else that BM mentioned – the clubhead moves inside the target line right at the beginning of the pivot, so there goes the whole “increase the swing arc by taking the club up the target line going back” nonsense as well:

Note as well that if you draw a line 45 degrees down from the ball to the stance line, that is approximately where the clubhead is as it passes the stance line – those of you who remember my “swing angle” concept will remember that I said the optical illusion of the club traveling in an arc actually makes it appear to be going back on a 45 degree angle:

… which is why I said that your “swing angle” watching your hands would be about 45 degrees!

Another thing you can see is that Jack used a power fade instead of opening his stance and cutting across the ball – this is why a power fade flies nearly or as far as a straight shot.

You can see that Jack did exactly what he said to do when hitting a fade – pick a target left of the actual target, then set up to that left target and swing straight at it with a slightly open club face, which then fades the ball to the actual and intended target.

12 thoughts on “Overhead View Of Jack Nicklaus Shows Interesting Things

  1. Jeff

    I love these overhead views. I think they are a much better representation of what a golfer “feels” as opposed to discussions of what happens when looking at the swing from face on or DTL. The overhead view puts me in the center of the swing plane, which is where I am when I actually swing. So much becomes clearer!

    1. DJ Watts Post author

      You’re absolutely correct about that, Jeff! Watching the swing from above literally puts you in the swinger’s shoes.

      I will have to find a way to get this shot for my next video. How, I have no idea 😂😂

        1. DJ Watts Post author

          The obvious choice, PA – except my range doesn’t allow drones on the premises. I suppose I could call around or simply take a drone shot somewhere on a quiet golf course… I definitely want an overhead view in my next video.

  2. Rick

    For years people would negatively comment on how I take the club inside on the backswing and how my right foot would slide forward on its toe in the through swing. The more I read your postings and the more I go back and reread the books and postings of some of the older-time champions, the more I realize that I listened to the wrong people in an effort to change my swing over to the more modern concepts. I should have left well enough alone and stayed with those older-time concepts. I have started to intentionally revert to yours and the older teachings and as I do so my swing and shots are getting better. Thank you and keep it up.

  3. Mr. McJohn

    It’s interesting how across the line the club was at the top. With this modern “Club parallel to target line at the top”, I wonder if being across the line is more optimal, given Snead and Jones did it. Of course, you do have to note that their swings are past parallel, so that does contribute to the image of being across the line. However Nicklaus wasn’t past parallel, in fact he was short of it. Thoughts on this?

    1. DJ Watts Post author

      I think the parallel club is simply something that people like to see for aesthetic reasons. Not aware of any study or research that shows past parallel is bad, period.

      Many of the greats were past parallel so I’m not sure it is or should be a hard and fast rule.

  4. BM

    I love in Jack’s video when he booms a drive out there with an effortless swing and turns back to the camera and says, “Frankly I prefer that one.”

    Second, Jack was a long driver. He came back from the British to the PGA in Dallas in 1963 and removed all those sweaters they were wearing in Scotland and promptly belted a 343 yard drive to win the long drive contest.

    There are stories of his first exhibition (at 18) with Arnie where the organizer hastily arranged a long drive contest between the two on the first tee. Palmer smoked one out there 290 and Jack stepped up and flew the 350 yard green.

    1. DJ Watts Post author

      Jack was long. He was accurate. He was consistent.

      How anyone thought they could dream up a swing model (Modern) different from his and the other Classic bangers is lunacy.

  5. BM

    DJ, reading your recent posts and returning back to observing Jack. One thing the down the line on Nicklaus shows is an interesting move as his swing start. Take a look at his Golf My Way on youtube at 6:54 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ExaR8DUSFGw

    Just as he begins the swing he makes a move either moving backward or turning the hip before we can notice anything else move. What do you see? I see the same move in the #2 LPGA distance Bianca Pagdanganan. She has a setup that resembles Nicklaus’. Look here at 2:00 https://youtu.be/AkpkFsSa1EE?t=119

    Just curious what you think this move does for the swing. It seems like it aids in the inside takeaway. I don’t recall reading much in your blog about the swing trigger.

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