Tom Watson’s Secret to the Golf Swing

It’s Saturday, I have my Wall Street Journal in front of me, and I am as always, reading John Paul Newport’s column. In it, he reviews the big golf stories of the year. We all know what the number 1 story was and is, so no need to rehash it here. But the #2 story was the headline: “Tom Watson nearly wins the British Open.”

This was without a doubt, one of the most exciting tournaments of the year. I watched mesmerized as a 59 year old Tom Watson nearly won this tournament. It all came down to a eight-iron approach shot, which was struck brilliantly from a golf swing perspective but landed in just the worst possible spot to try and get up and down from. This happens in golf, which is why no matter what anyone tells me, there is a lot of luck in this game, no matter how good you are!

This article reminded me of one of my favorite clips on You Tube, which is Tom Watson sharing his golf swing secret. He explains at the front of the clip that he knows the date and time in 1992 when he discovered the secret that changed his life. Needless to say, I decided to watch this clip all the way through!

To Watson, according to this clip, it was learning to  maintain his spine angle that changed his game. By the laws of physics, you can understand why this would be important to do. By keeping your swing plane consistent and not moving up and down or “off the ball” your consistency has to improve.

Virtually every golf instructor I have ever had has told me “Matt, you need to maintain your spine angle.” The Watson clip boils the swing down to a simple “Turn, then turn” of the shoulders. Seems so simple!

The more of these things you can make instinctive, the less you have in your head when you try to make a swing. Unfortunately for me, I have a real problem with this, especially on my backswing. I “raise up” on my swing, causing me to have to come back down to the same spot in order to be consistent. This is very difficult to do. Therefore, this is one of the many swing fixes on my list that I am going to work on this winter.

I am 52, so I have 7 more years to match Watson’s feat of being a challenger in the British Open! But as my friends would tell me, Matt, there is positive thinking, and then there is delusional thinking. You need to learn the difference!


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