Today’s blog will be about one of the all time greats Slammin Sammy Snead. If he had won one or two U.S. Opens, he probably would be in the discussion of the all time greatest golfers. Even with the Open blemish Snead is always mentioned in the top 5 or 6. His graceful swing was a thing of beauty and allowed him to win 3 Masters, 3 PGAs and a British Open on his only trip over there. Hogan also won the British on his only trip. It makes you wonder how many majors these two would have had if they had made the trip yearly like everyone does now. Even though Snead’s swing was graceful and powerful he did have some flaws. In the book The Venturi Analysis, here is Ken Venturi’s take on the Snead swing.
On strictly the technical side, Sam’s swing is not as classic as it looks. He sets up with his feet a little closed and the clubhead aiming slightly to the right of his target, then gets the ball onto target by delivering the club to it on a path a little outside than on which he took it back. This is a pull, and you probally know from experience that a pulled ball is a stronger more powerful shot than one hit with clubhead moving from in to out. Sam can make this move without hitting many shots off line to the left because he gets his right shoulder lower at impact than it was at address and because he clears his left hip a little more than ususal. Other golfers who swing this way might look a little jerky, but Sam does it smoothly and almost effortlessly.
Venturi also goes on to write that Snead benefitted from having longer arms than normal and being double jointed. Last week I wrote about how the average golfer will aim right of the target, and then make what I called a violent move over the top, but jerky will do, which results in a pulled shot. What I find interesting is that Venturi says the moves that Snead makes keeps him from missing the shot left. Nothing is ever said that aiming right, even if it is “slightly”, will cause him to have to do something from missing the shot to the right. Sam Snead in the early sixties wrote 3 instuctional books. In none of those books does he acknowledge that he has that type of swing. He does talk about having a closed stance for the driver, but Hogan did the same thing for a fade with the driver. In fact, in all of Snead’s books he tells the reader that the best shot is the straight shot. When I teach beginners, and I ask them to aim at a target that is only about 50 yards away, about 80% will aim right of the targer, 10% will aim left, and 10% will be right at the target. So whats the point of all this. I am not too sure. I always thought that the reason most people aim right of the target is because they are to the side of the ball and that causes the illusion of aiming at the target. We have all felt the power of the slightly over the top swing and the increase distance it produces. So could aiming a little right of the target be a more natural way to play the game. I don’t know. Did Snead know he was aiming right. In other words did he have a good mind body connection, or was this just the way one of the greatest self taught golfers of all time, just happen to hit the ball. We’ll never know. Next week I am going to discuss another great one, which will lead us to what I think is the biggest problem in golf instruction today.