Tee It Up with The Little Pro: Ch 8


Life’s greatest mysteries are those that conjure the most diverse opinions, theories, and beliefs. The golf swing, throughout the history of the game, has stimulated multitudes of proclamations that are fraught with omissions and inaccuracies. Why is the golf swing so difficult to understand and internalize?

The greatest players and most famous instructors are often at odds when it comes to dissecting the elements of the golf swing. The position at impact is the only element where all of these experts find a consensus. This diverse set of educated opinions makes it extremely difficult for all golfers to learn the most effective way of delivering the club to the ball in a manner that can be repeated time and again.

Let’s embark on our journey together to understand the golf swing by seeking telltale signs and two living examples that will enable us to assemble the evidence in a simple yet comprehensive fashion.

  1. Peter Thomson
  2. Tiger Woods

Our first subject is the great Peter Thomson, World Golf Hall of Fame inductee and winner of 5 Open Championships (1954, 1955, 1956, 1958, and 1965), and arguably the greatest Australian golfer to ever grace the world stage. Mr. Thomson is the only player in the 20th Century to win the Open Championship in three consecutive years. When asked why he had never written a book on the golf swing, he replied, “How can you write a book on something so simple as swing the club back and swing it forth?” In eight words he described the swing profoundly. In fairness to the rest of us, for someone as talented as Peter Thomson, it seemed that simple and easy.

Tiger Woods, certainly in the greatest player ever conversation, as he nears 40 years of age, is entering a fourth decade in his never ending quest for the perfect golf swing. In his junior and teenage years, he was taught a classic, high swing by Rudy Duran and John Anselmo; two great southern California Golf Professionals.

In his 20’s Butch Harmon gave Tiger a wide swing of incredibly beautiful proportions.

Hank Haney then moved Tiger to a rounder and deeper swing.

Tiger will be back in top form as soon as he settles into a swing that delivers each in the correct proportion.

The 3 Swing Dimensions

We all swing in three dimensions: Wide, High, and Deep. A great way to relate to the 3-D motion is; swing back and forth, swing up and down, and swing around and around while blending all three into a single graceful movement.

  1. Swing Up and Down – The forearms and wrists raise the club up on the backswing and down to the ball on the forward swing.
  2. Swing Back and Forth – Swing the handle of the club to one side of the body and then all the way to the other side:
  3. Swing Around and Around -The shoulders and hips rotate clockwise (for the right handed player) on the backswing and counterclockwise on the forward swing.

These three dimensions will and should occur without manipulation. The swing travels from one side of our body to the other without stopping in the middle. If we concentrate on the forearms and swinging the handle of the golf club, we will bring all the elements together in a way that is easy to understand and execute.

Swing to New York in the backswing and all the way forth to Los Angeles in the follow through, without stopping in Chicago

All swing variations, and there are many, are controlled by the forearms. You can alter length of the swing, how far back and through the club extends from one side to the other. We can vary the swing tempo or meter of the swing, how quickly the swing takes to perform. We can change the strength of the swing to match the distance we want the ball to travel. All of these variations share a common denominator, the forearms are controlling the movement of the club from one side of the body to the other. Knowing this will allow us all to fine tune our golf swings while maintaining the simplicity to learn and improve.

Can it really be that simple? Well, yes is it! Until the next tee, where we’ll discuss cause and effect, keep swinging the handle!

Miss a lesson? It’s ok, you can catch up on the entire series.

Eddie Merrins "The Little Pro"

Affectionately known as “The Little Pro”, Eddie Merrins has long been revered as a golf guru. “The Little Pro” has had success at every level throughout his career.

During his 14 years as UCLA men’s golf coach, the team reached #1 and won an NCAA National Championship. Eddie also had a stellar professional career playing in over 200 PGA Tour events including 8 US Opens, 6 PGA Championships, and 2 British Opens. While playing professionally he managed to leave his mark as a Club Professional at some of the most famed clubs in the United States, including Merion and Bel-Air Country Club where he is currently the Golf Professional Emeritus after a 40 year run as the Director of Golf.

Throughout his career he’s had the opportunity to instruct some of the biggest names in entertainment, as well as some of the highest-level professional and amateur golfers. His teaching philosophy propelled him into a class of few peers. He’s listed as a Top 100 Golf Magazine instructor and has been elected to numerous Halls of Fame, and most recently, as an inductee to the PGA of America Hall of Fame.

“The Little Pro” has a unique ability to effectively communicate the golf swing, as he displayed by authoring a best-selling book “Swing the Handle, Not the Clubhead”. This book led to the success of the “Swing the Handle” video series. You can purchase both here.

"The Little Pro" is passing along his knowledge through these articles with the help of his longtime friend Rick Oldach.