Visions of a Grand Slam
Jordan Spieth has won his second major championship of the year to become the most celebrated player in golf. At 21, he is also halfway to one of the most difficult feats in sports, the Grand Slam, first completed by Bobby Jones in 1930. While the original set included two amateur championships, it was an accomplishment so bold, so difficult and so unexpected that it lifted the spirits of an entire nation still reeling from the aftershock of the stock market crash and the dawn of the Great Depression. At 28, with thousands of good swings left, Jones retired from competitive golf. The Grand Slam had left him so spent.
In its modern incarnation, no one has ever completed the Grand Slam, and no one has come especially close. Winning the Masters and the U.S. Open in the same year has however been done seven times. The first to do it was Craig Wood in 1941. Ben Hogan first did it in 1951. He did it again in 1953 and went on to win the only British Open of his career but couldn’t play the final major because the dates for the Open and PGA Championship overlapped. That was the closest anyone has come in the modern era.
Palmer won the first two legs of the Grand Slam in 1960. He came close in the British Open that year losing by a single stroke. Jack Nicklaus did it again in 1972 but missed a win at the British Open by a stroke, losing to Lee Trevino. After Palmer and Nicklaus, it took 30 years and the emergence of Tiger Woods who won the first two majors in 2002 only to wind up tied for 28th at the British Open. Although Woods amazingly won all four majors consecutively from 2000 to 2001 it was not considered by most to be a true Grand Slam because it did not take place in a calendar year.
That brings us to Jordan Spieth, who now looks forward to the British Open at the Old Course at St. Andrews starting July 16 and the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits in August. Can he buck history and win the Grand Slam? To win the Masters and the U.S. Open at 21 is an eye-opening accomplishment that will be celebrated for years to come. Some will say that he is significantly less experienced than the other golfers who won the first two legs. Woods was the youngest, at 26; the others, Hogan, Palmer and Nicklaus were all over 30. To ask Spieth to go on and win the next two majors is a tall order indeed. But that does not mean that everyone will not be watching to see if he can do it.
Improve your Swing: The Finish Position
by Head Teaching Pro Norm Moote
Most golfers focus on their starting position but neglect their finishing position. The finish position is extremely important and provides feedback on the result of the shot. Dissecting your finish is a difficult habit to get into, but it is something that all good golfers do. Whether your ball hit the target or hooked into the trees, the finish position always holds the answer. My advice is to begin analyzing where your body is facing when you finish each shot. Your entire body should be facing the target including your shoulders, chest, hips and knees. As you hold your finish position you should notice that all of your weight has shifted to your front foot and you should strive to achieve this.
Eight-time PGA Tour winner, George Knudson once told me about a conversation he had with major championship winner Johnny Miller regarding the importance of balance in the golf swing. Both Knudson and Miller agreed that a great swing had everything to do with balance and that a golfer could swing as hard as they liked as long as they maintained balance, the key for consistency, accuracy and solid contact.
Many people have a vague understanding of what balance means yet good balance is the key to your golf swing. Not only do you need to finish in balance, you need to be in balance throughout the entire motion of your swing from each sequence of actions.
Many golfers tend to roll to the outside of the front foot on the downswing and think that they are in balance. George Knudson once remarked that “since people don’t walk on the sides of their feet, how can a golfer finish their swing on the side of their front foot and think that they are in balance?”
Harvey Pennick, a famous golf coach that taught many professional players, once said that teaching golf is more about subtraction rather than addition. The student needs to eliminate or take away the movements in their golf swing which are holding them back from playing better golf.
Norm Moote is the Head Teaching Professional at the Legends on the Niagara Golf Academy. Visit niagaraparksgolf.com for more information on lessons, leagues, packages and tournaments.