Book breaks down swings of golf greats
Brandel Chamblee wants to make golf instruction easier.
The former PGA Tour player-turned-Golf Channel analyst’s book, The Anatomy of Greatness: Lessons from the Best Golf Swings in History, tries to do that by examining the game’s top players and discovering what they have in common.
“The average golfer can learn a great deal from it,” Chamblee said. “Golf instruction has gotten very technical and hard to digest.”
The book details all aspects of the swing, from grip to posture to completing the backswing. It also focuses on the greats of the game from Harry Vardon to Tiger Woods.
The biggest takeaway is that the overwhelming majority of top players lift their front heel (left for a right-handed player) during the swing. That allows for a bigger turn that generates more power.
Chamblee points out that of the 17 players to win multiple Masters titles, 15 lifted their front heel. The two exceptions? Woods and Nick Faldo. Of the top 50 tournament winners of all time, 47 used that move, Chamblee said.
The analyst takes issue with some of the game’s current teaching philosophies.
“Most of instruction today centers (on) resisting the lower body and torque,” he said. “I think it’s a big lie. I think this book was my attempt at swinging golf instruction back to a more rational narrative.”
None of the current top players is included in the book.
“This era has suffered from a permanent blind spot,” Chamblee said. “You’re seeing injuries at a younger age among professional golfers. I think they are hindered by it. It’s sort of me telling this generation that you’re making a mistake by not paying attention.”
Chamblee points to the classic swings of Sam Snead, Byron Nelson and Jack Nicklaus as among his favorites. Of golfers still competing, he likes the swings of Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson and Woods circa 1996-97.
“Sam Snead and Byron Nelson do more of the things (in the book) than anyone else,” Chamblee said. “Sam Snead does every one of them. There is a reason why his swing’s so beautiful, so rhythmical.”
Chamblee will be busy this week working for the Golf Channel. He’ll speak from experience; in 1999, he opened with 3-under-par 69 to share the lead with three others. He finished tied for 18th in his lone Masters appearance.
“Just playing in the Masters is at the top of every professional player’s experience,” Chamblee said. “I still look back very fondly on that week. I had a lot of fabulous moments in my life, but that is still certainly in the top 10.”
THE ANATOMY OF GREATNESS: LESSONS FROM THE BEST GOLF SWINGS IN HISTORY
AUTHOR: Brandel Chamblee
SYNOPSIS: The outspoken Golf Channel analyst breaks down the swings of the best players and shows how the common swing positions can help players of all skill levels. Armed with dozens of photographs and illustrations of the top players, Chamblee takes the reader through the complete swing from grip to impact and finish. Chamblee shows how golfers can take the lessons of the greats and improve their game.
QUOTABLE: “If you find yourself struggling, take solace that the best also struggled. Their struggles, however, have led to the discoveries and commonalities in this book, so take your time, and this may well be the last instruction book you will need.” – Brandel Chamblee
OUT OF THE ROUGH: INSIDE THE ROPES WITH THE WORLD’S GREATEST GOLFERS
AUTHOR: Steve Williams
SYNOPSIS: Williams was on the bag for 13 of Tiger Woods’ 14 major victories, including three times at the Masters, and caddied for Adam Scott during his 2013 Masters victory. Williams has helped his players to 150 worldwide wins. He dishes on a variety of topics, but much of the book is devoted to his time with Woods and their relationship.
QUOTABLE: “A (caddie) is like a jockey on a horse, or a navigator in a rally car. In the same way a good jockey can be the difference in a close race, I’ve learned how to get my players across the line.” – Steve Williams
WIN AT LOSING: HARNESSING THE POWER OF SETBACKS TO SUCCEED IN WORK AND LIFE
AUTHOR: Sam Weinman
SYNOPSIS: Weinman’s book won’t be available until December, but it’s worth talking about now because a large portion of it deals with Greg Norman’s epic collapse in the 1996 Masters. Weinman, the digital editor for Golf Digest, wrote the book to help his two sons learn how to deal with losing. In an excerpt released this month about Norman’s collapse, Weinman offers insight into the biggest meltdown in Masters history. He tells how Norman entered the final round struggling, how he handled the aftermath and finally gained closure.
QUOTABLE: “On 18, after (Nick) Faldo holed out for the win and his third Masters title, he wrapped his longtime rival in the type of sympathetic embrace you normally see at wakes. It was all over, and Norman was left to somehow make sense of everything that just happened.” – Sam Weinman
EAST LAKE GOLF CLUB
AUTHORS: Sidney Matthew and Janice McDonald
SYNOPSIS: Matthew, the author of eight books on Bobby Jones, and McDonald, a journalist and historian, tell the rich history of the Atlanta club. Once the home course for Jones and other greats, East Lake fell victim to the flight of Atlanta’s well-to-do to the suburbs. In the 1990s, the club made a comeback and now plays host to the PGA Tour Championship.
QUOTABLE: “Over a span of 30 years, Bobby Jones, Alexa Stirling, and Charlie Yates won 17 major championships, more than any other American club. They became known as the ‘Champions of East Lake,’ a moniker that remains intact today.” – Sidney Matthew and Janice McDonald