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Monday, February 1, 2021

Byron Nelson Golf Swing / Frame-by-Frame (1945) and Drills to Help Build this Motion


Byron Nelson had one of the smoothest actions in the history of golf.  His active use of his legs and feet helped him build this great rhythm and balance.  You don't really see this kind of movement in the modern golf swing.  The last player on the PGA TOUR which possessed this kind of silky sweet movement was Tom Watson and following Tom, I would say Payne Stewart would be in the same category.  I'm not saying there weren't more players which had this trait in their golf swings, I just think these two stand out.  In fact, when I was the host professional for the Houston Open from 1988-2001, I watched Payne Stewart on the practice range more than any other player.  I would play some of my best golf after the tournament was over as his swing was locked in my mind.  I could visualize and feel his freedom of motion in my golf swing.  

Back to Byron Nelson, if you watch the video from the from the 6-12 second mark, you will notice a movement in Byron's swing which only a handfull of players have exhibited over time.  He started his swing with a slight right knee movement forward which would pull his right heel off the ground a little bit.  From there he would plant the right heel as the club started back.  As he reached the top of the swing his left heel would raise then the heel would plant as he started the downswing.  I would call it a right heel up, right heel down to a left heel up to left heel down move.  Along with the corresponding knee movement is how he was able to alway swing in sync.  

Many times I will have a student which is struggling with their tempo and timing and I will use a few "rhythm" drills which mimmick Byron's movement in the golf swing.

The first drill is the "Walk Through" and the goal of this drill is to swing with a very even tempo.  Use a 9 iron for this drill and tee up five balls in a row about one foot apart.  Start the drill with the front foot and club making a small forward movement then take a small step back with the back foot and begin walking and hitting one ball at a time without stopping.  Make a half swing back and through and strive to swing the same pace back and through.  Depending on your coordination or skill level, it might take several reps of five balls to get the correct movement.  Students say they lose their swing thoughts and the rhythm takes over in the swing and this is a good thing.  The biggest thing you should feel when performing this drill is to make sure the front foot re-plants before the arms start the downward movement to impact.


The second drill is the "Progressive 3 Ball".  In this drill you will use a 9 iron and tee up three balls about one foot apart and walk through them just as the first drill.  The difference in this drill from the Walk Through is the first swing is small, the next is a half swing and the third is a full swing.  Perform several reps of this drill as it will really translate to begin making full swings with improved rhythm.


The third and last drill is the "Forward-Back-Forward". In this drill you will tee up a 9 iron and take a normal set up.  Hold the club a little above the ball to start.  To start the swing you will simply swing the club forward about a foot or two and as you do this allow the right knee to move forward and the right heel to release slightly from the ground.  Then plant the right heel and swing to the top of the swing and back to the finish.  In this drill there is no stepping involved, you are learning to transform the feel from all of the drills to a real swing.  After several reps, modify to not swinging the club forward but allow the right knee and heel to start the swing as Byron did.  The last step is to possibly modify the move and make it less noticeable but you still feel there is just a little forward press of the knee to start your swing. 


When acutally playing, it's good to have some sort of swing trigger and I like this one.  I actually visualize the club swinging forward and as I do, that is when I have a slight right knee movement to the target.  I don't actually let my right heel leave the ground but I do feel a slight move to the instep of my right foot.

Give these drills a try and I think it will really help your overall swing motion and balance.
 

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