I have often wondered which was of the greater value, a good golf lesson or a good tip. Although I have taken hundreds of lessons, I have also received many tips of inestimable value. When I was playing at Winged Foot Golf Club recently with my friend Claude Harmon, who is the pro there, he gave me a really invaluable tip.
Claude is one of the most observant students of the game, as well as one of the finest teachers. I had not been living up to my newspaper reputation as the great iron player, and although I knew I was standing at the ball correctly, that my timing was good, and the groove of the club was good, I was still not hitting the ball properly. I could not seem to get the necessary punch into the shot. Hole after hole, I was short of the green. Not only was my game hurt, but so was my vanity. The alleged great iron player was not able to hit even a single good iron shot.
Then at lunch one day Claude said, "I know what you are doing, Tommy. Shall I tell you?" I said, "Please, Claude, please give it to me." He said, "You are separating your hands at the top of your backswing." Now that does not mean I was loosening my fingers, but as you will see by the illustration, my hands were not remaining in the same interrelated position where I started them. The separation made me snatch at the ball with my right hand, and instead of coming down with my hands ahead of the clubhead, they were actually behind it.
This is an extremely common fault. If your iron shots are not going out with their usual zip, I recommend that you check your hands at the top. It immediately cured my troubles, and I know it will help you.
TOMMY ARMOUR, pro at Boca Raton
top of backswing
NEXT WEEK'S GUEST PRO: CLAUDE HARMON ON ALIGNING THE GRIP