Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Tom Watson Teaches The Timeless Swing

In Tom Watson’s new instruction book – ‘The Timeless Swing’ – the Hall of Famer has taken a complicated game and done a masterful job of demystifying it.

That’s not to say Watson has made it easy to play. He’s good but not that good. What he’s done is make it easy for players of any level to understand the unchanging principles of the game.

“The point was to try and simplify the swing so everyone can read it from a beginner to an expert,” Watson said.

Watson has taken the principles he leaned, explained them and illustrated them with photographs in ways that are easy to understand. About the most complicated element of Watson’s book (written with former Golf Digest editor Nick Seitz) comes early when he talks about the importance of the bottom of the swing arc.

It’s his version of Hogan’s old mantra that the answer is in the dirt.

In Watson’s words, “If you can swing with a consistent divot, you’ve learned to swing it properly.”

He addresses familiar problems he sees and offers solutions. He stresses the importance of maintaining a consistent spine angle and building a solid grip. Too many amateurs, Watson said, have weak grips which make swing problems almost unavoidable.

Watson learned the game from his father, Raymond, as a child. As a six-year old, Watson learned the basics of working the ball in both directions. It was his father who taught him the holy grail of swing thoughts – keep your head still.

“My dad would put his hand on my head like Jack Grout did with Jack Nicklaus,” Watson said. “He would do that and say, make a swing. After I did it a few times, he said that’s the way you swing.

“I had a good model in my dad.”

Watson’s new book ($29.95) has six Microsoft tags in the book which allows readers to put them into their mobile devices and see lessons demonstrated.

In 1994, Watson made a substantial swing change, one that has extended his career, putting in position to nearly win the British Open two years ago at age 59.

“When I made the change in my swing, my swing got very easy,” Watson said. “I was 46 years old. Until then, I had done it with Band-Aids and swing keys. Talent had a little to do with it along with hitting a ton of golf balls.”

In ‘The Timeless Swing,’ Watson explains what he learned and why it continues to work for him today.