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POLL: Who Has The Best Golf Swing?

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Carl Spackler Caddyshack Golf Swing

Recently, I was working on some new DVDs for Swing Man Golf. During the process I reflected back on my journey, and noticed how my choice of a favorite golf swing has evolved over the years.

I forget exactly when I started playing golf — maybe junior high or early high school. But I do remember in those first few years that my Dad would take me out with him several times per season for 18 holes and I would mostly shoot between 110 and 120.

During my junior year in high school, breaking 100 on 18 holes was my barometer for having a good round, and those scores were actually good enough to play in the fourth or fifth slots on my high school varsity team.

Also during that period, Dad and I would watch a lot of sports together on TV. Depending on the season, it was mostly baseball, basketball, and football, but we would also take in other sports like golf when they came on, especially for a tournament like the Masters.

For some reason the swings that always stood out to me in those early years were Fred Couples and Greg Norman, the “Great White Shark.” I didn’t really know much about golf or technique at the time, but I could still appreciate how carefree Freddie looked with his buttery rhythm and super smooth swing.

As for Norman, I suppose parts of what made him noticeable to me were both his long blonde hair as well as his nickname, but I also really liked how confidently and aggressively he would go after the ball while still managing to stay in balance. With him, it seemed to be no-holds-barred when it came time for a full swing.

When I got in to college, Ernie Els was coming on the scene, and much for the same reasons I liked Couples’ swing I really loved watching “The Big Easy” swing. Again, with my knowledge back then, I didn’t really understand what was going on from a technical standpoint, but I sure enjoyed how pretty and effortless looking he was to watch.

Then after five years of working as a computer engineer, I quit my corporate job in Kansas City and moved out to California to pursue a golf career. Shortly after I arrived, I had the good fortune of having Dan Shauger take me under his wing and introduce me to his friend Mike Austin. At first mention, I didn’t know who Austin was but for some reason his name did sound familiar.

Later on, I remembered that as a young boy I had flipped through an old edition of the Guinness Book of World Records and that I had read about Austin’s 515-yard drive that he had hit in the 1974 U.S. National Senior Open in Las Vegas. Almost unimaginably, he was 64 years old at the time of the drive and he used a steel-shafted persimmon wood driver and balata ball to do it.

In a way it was magical for me to get to meet this mystical legend that I had read about as a kid. Shortly after, Dan introduced me to Austin and showed me some old VHS tape video footage of Mike’s swing, I had found my new favorite swing in Austin.

I’ve always been a naturally curious person, and in the years since my initial meeting with Dan and the now late Austin, I’ve spent a great deal of time studying many other great swings as a swing scientist of sorts, and I tried all kinds of different methods in and out of competition. Little did I know it, but both my background in anatomy, kinesiology, physics, patient case analysis, etc., from pharmacy school and also my work as a computer engineer would come in great handy.

In recent years, as a by-product of my research, the person whose swing I found to be my favorite evolved again. This time it would belong to PGA Tour player Ryan Palmer. In fact, some of the primary things I liked about Ryan’s swing are actually many of the same things that helped me go from 14-handicapper to professional golfer.

To me, it’s a low maintenance type of swing that doesn’t require great flexibility that you could just get up out of bed, head to the first tee, and put balls in play all day long. Overall, if you’re looking for a full swing to mimic, I think his is a great choice for both amateurs and professionals. Perhaps in a subsequent article, I’ll talk in more detail about why I like Ryan’s swing.

Anyway, all of that reflection about my favorite swings over the years and why I liked them got me wondering what swings other people liked the most.

As I couldn’t recall any significant poll ever being done to determine who has the best golf swing according to popular vote, I thought it would make for an interesting and fun article. So I did some initial research by asking my friends on Facebook and checking in with those on the Swing Man Golf mailing list to come up with a good list to vote on.

As expected, I got back a lot of nominations for guys like Fred Couples, a younger Ernie Els, Steve Elkington, Greg Norman, Luke Donald, etc, but I also was surprised at the diversity of other responses that came back in as well.

Of course, some of the golfing greats like Arnold Palmer, Ben Hogan, Bobby Jones, Byron Nelson, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, and Sam Snead came up.

Tiger was mentioned too, but different people favored certain swings of his over others (Ex. Pre-Harmon, Harmon, Haney, or Foley)

There were also home grown swings from guys like Bubba Watson, John Daly, Miller Barber, and Tommy Gainey.

From the women, Annika Sorenstam, Mickey Wright, and Na Yeon Choi got nominations.

A number of long drivers got the nod including Jamie Sadlowski, Landon Gentry, Mike Austin, Mike Dobbyn, Mike Dunaway, and Pat Dempsey.

Several teachers were mentioned, like Martin Chuck and Stack & Tilt’s Mike Bennett.

Count Yogi and Moe Norman made the list…and even yours truly got votes.

Carl Spackler, from Caddyshack was also suggested, which I thought was hilarious, but in all seriousness I decided not to include his weed whacking excellent-ness in the final poll below. It did, however, make for a great title picture for this article.

Interestingly, what became really apparent to me from everyone’s feedback is that people have very different definitions of what constitutes the best golf swing. Their favorite swing could be from someone who is smooth and rhythmic, it might look pretty or ugly, it could be powerful, it could have certain swing fundamentals or mechanics, it could be more or less optimal from a mathematical or scientific standpoint, etc.

It doesn’t even necessarily have to belong to a great player because there’s more to achieving a good golf score and winning than just the full swing. You could have a wonderful player with a terrible full swing and at the same time have someone that doesn’t play that much and/or isn’t even on Tour who has a lovely and very desirable golf swing.

All that being said, this article is about doing a poll, so let’s get to it without further ado.

Below are 72 choice for your favorite golf swing, which is absolutely crazy for any normal sort of poll. I thought about hand picking ones that seemed to get the most votes in my initial research to narrow it down to maybe 5 or 10 options, but I didn’t want to limit the selections to those of my own personal bias and/or marginalize someone else’s choice of best swing. And who knows? Maybe the results will also yield some surprises. Plus, we’ll actually be able to determine by popular vote which golfer has the best golf swing and be able to rank them accordingly.

Perhaps there are some other swings that deserve to be on this list, but at the least this is as inclusive of anything that’s ever been done before.

So…what about you? Who do you think has the best swing in golf?

Cast in your vote and feel free to comment below about whom you chose, why you picked him or her, if you think someone else deserves to be on the list, etc.

What golfer's swing is your favorite?

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Jaacob Bowden is a Professional Golfer, PGA of America Class A Member, Top 100 Most Popular Teacher, Swing Speed Trainer, the original founder of Swing Man Golf, the co-creator of "Sterling Irons" single length irons, and has caddied on the PGA TOUR and PGA TOUR CHAMPIONS. Formerly an average-length hitting 14-handicap computer engineer, Jaacob quit his job, took his savings and moved from Kansas to California to pursue a golf career at age 27. He has since won the Pinnacle Distance Challenge with a televised 381-yard drive, won multiple qualifiers for the World Long Drive Championships including a 421-yard grid record drive, made cuts in numerous tournaments around the world with rounds in the 60s and 70s, and finished fifth at the Speed Golf World Championships at Bandon Dunes. Jaacob also holds the championship record for golf score with a 72 in 55 minutes and 42 seconds using only 6 clubs. The Swing Man Golf website has more than 8,000 members and focuses primarily on swing speed training. Typically, Jaacob’s website members and amateur and tour player clients will pick up 12-16 mph of driver swing speed in the first 30 days of basic speed training. You can learn more about Jaacob, Swing Man Golf, and Sterling Irons here: Websites – JaacobBowden.com & SwingManGolf.com & SterlingIrons.com; Twitter - @JaacobBowden & @SwingManGolf & @SterlingIrons; Facebook – Facebook.com/JaacobBowdenGolf & Facebook.com/SwingManGolf & <Facebook.com/SterlingIronsGolf; Instagram - Instagram.com/JaacobBowden YouTube – YouTube.com/SwingManGolf – More than 2.8 million video views

104 Comments

104 Comments

  1. Cody flowers

    Mar 18, 2015 at 10:45 pm

    Bobby jones is by far the best ever. Anyone knows that the he who uses the least effort has the most efficient swing. No one knows what a good swing look like anymore they are all gone, all the pure swings. There may be a couple here and there but I don’t see how any of the modern players are very good when true lag cannot be created without the lifting of the left heel. People also do not have the proper take away anymore and they do not know how to achieve it. Most of these peoples perception of the game is all twisted and wrong. It’s sad really what has happened to this game. If everyone just watched those old bobby jones instruction tapes everyone would turn out to be a bubba Watson so that would be no good. This is all lost knowledge.

  2. Ron

    Nov 19, 2014 at 10:34 pm

    Ben Hogan had the best golf swing.Words can’t make someone the greatest golfer but the actions of Ben Hogan’s swing did make him the best ever.Even Jack Nicklaus said that Ben Hogan was the best.That’s coming from a man that had one of the greatest careers in golf.A very humbling thing to say of someone else in the same field of work.Others have said as much as well.

  3. charles

    Jul 18, 2014 at 12:41 pm

    TOM Purtzer WAS VOTED AS HAVING THE BEST GOLF SWING BY THE P.G. A. PLAYERS WHEN HE WAS ON TOUR . THEY WOULD KNOW,AND I AGREE.

    CHUCK

  4. charles

    Jul 18, 2014 at 12:36 pm

    tom Purtzer was picked by the PGA tour players as having the best golf swing on tour at one time. they would know and i agree.

    CHUCK

  5. Jace

    Jul 7, 2014 at 4:22 pm

    I like Gary Woodland. Simple, smooth and enormous power.

  6. Shaun

    Mar 26, 2014 at 6:38 pm

    Mike Austin hands down. If I couldn’t have that swing, give me Tiger in 2000.

  7. Matt

    Sep 7, 2013 at 8:48 am

    Billy Horschell and Adam Scott have the best swings on tour at the moment! How Horschell is not on the poll amazes me.

    See it for yourself http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=81zd65QgfnY

    Matt

  8. Chris arrand

    Aug 14, 2013 at 6:18 am

    What about faldo. His swing looked great shame about his putting

  9. Johan

    Aug 5, 2013 at 5:58 am

    Henrik Stenson ought to be on the list. When he has a good year his swing and his game is so good and so versitile. Mybe a bit quick but still

  10. Peter Reich

    Aug 3, 2013 at 1:34 pm

    I can’t believe that the mechanical swing of today has out shined the fluid and graceful swing of previous eras. I see Bobby Jones as having the best swing of all time! He has no wasted movements (a large leg kick on the backswing or an exaggerated dip on the down swing) like the swing choices above and he has the power and accuracy without being robotic or aggressive towards the ball. Overall when a lawyer from the 30’s addresses a golf ball with a slightly open stance, a posture that is at ease, and fluid controlling hands and then allows physics and gravity to coil the club back and then drop and release the club through the ball it can be nothing other than extraordinary!!!

  11. Clayton

    Jul 26, 2013 at 3:08 pm

    I really like Martin Kaymer’s swing

  12. Evan

    Jul 24, 2013 at 10:53 am

    Henrik Stenson is a really nice modern swing for a bigger frame/ bigger guy… many swings that are personal favorites or are being modeled need to have similar body types. One thing I always look at when comparing swings is taking body size/ type into account. Best big guy swings (6’2″+): Tom Weiskopf, Ernie Els, Vijay Singh, Davis Love 3, Nicolas Colsaerts (very similar to DL3)

  13. Sébastien

    Jul 24, 2013 at 9:04 am

    Great, really great article Jaacob!

    Do you play in Otelfingen?…I had to laugh when I saw the range and thought wow, really?? 🙂

  14. viper

    Jul 23, 2013 at 2:49 pm

    Sergio

  15. aliceryder

    Jul 15, 2013 at 12:52 am

    It doesn’t matter if who really had the best golf swing. What’s important for me is that my faves on the list! Adam Scott being on top and Tiger Woods!

  16. Jim.

    Jul 14, 2013 at 4:34 am

    Totally agree with JJMule…. Robert Rock has a fantastic swing in so many ways not least aesthetically.
    Another vote for Rocky here

  17. Dolph Lundgrenade

    Jul 13, 2013 at 6:30 pm

    Why wasn’t I on this list? I have the best swing of all these jokers

  18. Nicholas

    Jul 13, 2013 at 3:39 am

    Rickie Fowler**** not “Ricky”

  19. Sky

    Jul 12, 2013 at 8:46 pm

    Who the heck voted for Tommy Gainey? lol

  20. Boda

    Jul 12, 2013 at 7:47 pm

    Hubert Green?

  21. Sean

    Jul 12, 2013 at 6:43 pm

    I’m not really interested in who has the best swing, what impresses me is who has the lowest scoring average. It doesn’t matter how the club head gets to the ball, as long as it gets there the way it’s suppose to. 🙂

  22. John

    Jul 12, 2013 at 11:16 am

    There’s a lot on that list that aren’t great ball-strikers, and a ton of great ball-strikers that are on the list. Maybe update it?

    • Jaacob Bowden

      Jul 12, 2013 at 10:56 pm

      How are you defining someone as a great ball-striker or not?

      Of the 60 million or so golfers in the world, every one of these guys could be considered an upper 99th percentile ball-striker.

      But anyway, this piece was more about determining and ranking everyone’s favorite swings regardless of ball-striking skills. 😉

  23. Paul

    Jul 11, 2013 at 5:50 pm

    Sam Snead – Timeless and won more tournaments then any other player in the US. Not as many majors as Jack but proved he could win – over and over again…!

  24. K Biebs

    Jul 11, 2013 at 1:09 pm

    No love for Geoff Ogilvy?

  25. Ryan williams

    Jul 11, 2013 at 7:19 am

    Carlos Franco’s double eagle such a smooth epic swing.

  26. kiko

    Jul 11, 2013 at 6:56 am

    Frankie Minoza

  27. franc

    Jul 11, 2013 at 6:54 am

    jim mclellan

  28. David Schultz

    Jul 11, 2013 at 3:03 am

    Jim McLellan

  29. Lee

    Jul 11, 2013 at 1:43 am

    Noh Seung Yul. Hands down.

  30. Blaise

    Jul 10, 2013 at 8:30 pm

    tom watson!!!

  31. Rusty Cage

    Jul 10, 2013 at 8:27 pm

    No love for Lydia Ko?

  32. dario

    Jul 10, 2013 at 3:12 pm

    Where Is Hunter Mahan ?? He is definetly a top ten in that list !

  33. jjmule

    Jul 10, 2013 at 2:58 pm

    My personal all-time favorite is George Knudson (Hogan also loved his swing…)

    Recently, I’ve really been impressed with Robert Rock’s action – the best I’ve seen on any tour. Sort of a cult has grown up regarding his swing – check YouTube if you don’t believe me.

    He should be on your list

  34. dg7936

    Jul 10, 2013 at 1:36 pm

    Tom Purtzer has a great swing. Not many wins but a classic move through the ball. Stuart Appleby has a solid simple swing that lets him crush the ball. Lots of different ways to hit it, a lot depends on your body type.

  35. Joel

    Jul 10, 2013 at 12:41 pm

    How about a Canadian in the Mix, Graham Delaet, he swings the club so good! I believe if people mimic’d his shoulder turn alone, they would find themselves hitting further and with more consistency.

    • steven

      Jul 11, 2013 at 8:18 am

      Good call with Graham. I was following DL3 at The Barclays last year and Graham was in the group, little guy, but has some muscle to him, the kid hit it forever

  36. Jaacob Bowden

    Jul 10, 2013 at 12:00 pm

    Some great diversity in favorites here. Good learning.

    The “Other” category is sitting in 12th…and looks like it would now be filled up with a combination of Hunter Mahan, Tom Watson, Billy Casper, Raphaël Jacquelin, Marina Stuetz, Phil Mickelson, Retief Goosen, Jim Furyk, Bruce Lietzke, Billy Horschel, Robert Rock, Ryo Ishikawa, John Merrick, and Vaughn Taylor.

    So I’m guessing none of these golf swings would individually crack the top 10, but certainly still worth including in the overall poll.

  37. freddy

    Jul 10, 2013 at 9:52 am

    sam sneed. played longer than anyone. and everyone loves syrup!

  38. Steven

    Jul 10, 2013 at 8:17 am

    Billy Horschel or John Merrick

  39. Max

    Jul 10, 2013 at 6:04 am

    Ry? Ishikawa!

  40. Martin Chuck

    Jul 10, 2013 at 1:46 am

    Honored to be on the list. My mom must have voted.

  41. Ryan

    Jul 9, 2013 at 11:06 pm

    Robert Rock???

  42. Tom Miller

    Jul 9, 2013 at 10:29 pm

    If you didn’t pick Ben Hogan or Byron Nelson, then you are not a student of the game. I picked Ben. They should be tied for first place.

  43. John M

    Jul 9, 2013 at 9:06 pm

    Jeev Milka Singh… JUST KIDDING

    But seriously, justin rose or oostie

  44. Brian

    Jul 9, 2013 at 7:49 pm

    I’m going with Billy Horschel right now. Just about perfect.

  45. Jerry Crowell

    Jul 9, 2013 at 7:41 pm

    1950’s Mike Austin. Jack Nicklaus 2nd. DJ Watts 3rd.

  46. DJ Watts

    Jul 9, 2013 at 5:30 pm

    Jack Nicklaus. Nearly flawless and didn’t crack under pressure. 18 majors. My choice for best swing.

    • John

      Jul 12, 2013 at 11:15 am

      Your equating success with ball striking ability. Doesn’t work that way

  47. terry

    Jul 9, 2013 at 4:14 pm

    So are most people here picking the best swing based on what top instructors think is the ideal swing…? The best swing is one that produces the best results, especially under pressure. The best swings are ones that you don’t have to think about to execute, alla Jim Furyk. According to Trackman, Furyk has delivered the club head into the ball on all the proper angles more consistently than any other player on tour. Before trackman, Lee Trevino, Greg Norman, Fred Couples and Bruce lietzke come to mind. and finally, Moe Nornam deserves a mention. Not only were these swings consistent, they were poetry in motion, not like all the robots you see today. when i think of best swings, i think of poetry and art, not robots.

  48. Aeron Bowden

    Jul 9, 2013 at 3:31 pm

    My vote is for Charles Barkley!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NxLkEPb5DzI

  49. x125

    Jul 9, 2013 at 2:41 pm

    Retief

    • Jaacob Bowden

      Jul 9, 2013 at 3:28 pm

      Retief’s another good one from South Africa.

      Oosthuizen, Els, Shwartzel, Immelman, etc…what are they putting in the water down there?

      This list was 72 but it could’ve gotten to 75-80 good choices.

  50. JC

    Jul 9, 2013 at 2:36 pm

    I’m always mesmerized by Freddie Couples’ swing. At 53 he can still poke it out there 300 yards and he’s just so smooth and fluid. The club head looks like it’s moving through quicksand…and then he makes contact and the ball just ignites. Fantastic.

  51. Omar

    Jul 9, 2013 at 2:28 pm

    No Phil?! Such a beautiful swing, and the only lefty swing that doesn’t look awkward to me

    • Jaacob Bowden

      Jul 9, 2013 at 3:22 pm

      Phil has a crazy amount of club face rotation down through the hitting area…I think that’s one reason why he’s so streaky.

      But yes, it is a beautiful looking motion and not as awkward as many other swings.

      Weird that no one mentioned him either in my initial polling research. I probably should have put him in anyway.

  52. GCC

    Jul 9, 2013 at 2:26 pm

    Ol’ Neil Wilkins will be one proud dude when he sees this!

  53. anom

    Jul 9, 2013 at 2:16 pm

    LPGA rookie Marina Steutz has an absolutely beautiful swing. Currently it has to be her so I’m going with other

  54. Rob hogan

    Jul 9, 2013 at 2:11 pm

    John daly has to get my vote with Bowden just behind!!

  55. Sean

    Jul 9, 2013 at 12:07 pm

    To me, it’s not who has the best looking swing, it’s what is the best swing. The best swing is the one which will not injure your body over a period of time. A good instructor will not force/make you swing a certain way, just because the instruction book says to do it this way. A good instructor will help you develop a swing based on your body type and physical limitations. It may not look pretty, but it will be effective and not cause you to injure yourself. Yes, Fred has a great looking swing, just don’t ask him how his back is doing. Obviously golf is not a physical contact sport, but just look at all the pro’s who have to take time off to recover from injuries. If it wasn’t for
    golf, a majority of Chiropractor’s would be serving happy meals.

  56. Antonio

    Jul 9, 2013 at 11:10 am

    From Booby Jones, Byron said ” Bob´s golf swing was quite elegant – it was a long swing with great rhythm and it had a wonderfull pace -“

  57. Tommy

    Jul 9, 2013 at 10:29 am

    “Swing YOUR swing”
    Arnie, 2013

  58. Darrren

    Jul 9, 2013 at 8:27 am

    Id say GOD would be envious of Adam Scott, there no question his is the best, 2nd would have been woods.

    • G

      Jul 9, 2013 at 8:47 am

      You couldn’t be more wrong.

      • JC

        Jul 9, 2013 at 2:21 pm

        Based on the voting so far G, I’d say you’re pretty clearly in the wrong here!

        • G

          Jul 11, 2013 at 10:43 pm

          Ha! This is just opinion, not fact. Technically, Oosty has a better swing. So does Bill Haas.

  59. Cris

    Jul 9, 2013 at 7:08 am

    Really? No Hunter Mahan? You can’t be serious.

  60. Andy

    Jul 9, 2013 at 2:14 am

    How in the world is Ben Hogan sitting outside the top 5…? What are you people doing?!?!?!

    • Jaacob Bowden

      Jul 9, 2013 at 10:33 am

      Haha, certainly some surprises here, eh?

      As it sits right now, I would never have guessed Adam Scott would be #1. Top 10, yes…but I didn’t expect #1.

      It’s also interesting to see how the different versions of Tiger’s swing are rating.

      Fun poll. 🙂

  61. Gregor Reeves

    Jul 9, 2013 at 2:04 am

    When Ryan was in high school his parents were members at Tascosa CC in Amarillo. It is fun watching a nice kid grow up and become a great man. He hasn’t had many tweeks to his swing since high school.

  62. DJ King

    Jul 8, 2013 at 11:30 pm

    Ben Hogan has the best swing of all time, he makes it seem so fluid and simple

  63. tyler brooke

    Jul 8, 2013 at 11:15 pm

    Modern player I’d probably go with Adam Scott. Vintage would be Hogan

  64. Emilio

    Jul 8, 2013 at 10:43 pm

    I like Byron Nelson. Basically he design and redesign his swing to make it one of the most reliable under tournament pressure. Just 11 wins in a row, one of the biggest streak in history of any sport, made him enough money to retire early in his life. Even the golf club designer named their testing robot Iron Byron!!!

  65. Scott

    Jul 8, 2013 at 10:34 pm

    Where’s Hunter Mahan.

  66. Jim

    Jul 8, 2013 at 8:58 pm

    I didn’t see Tom Watson? Great swing with longevity, yes?

    • Jaacob Bowden

      Jul 9, 2013 at 10:29 am

      That’s true, Jim. I think Tom Watson should be on here as well.

      Similarly, to what I said above about Hunter Mahan, I’m surprised he didn’t show up in my initial polling.

      Thus far from the comments, between him and Hunter Mahan, it looks like those are the only two that were missed as significant voting options. Not bad!

      So far, with the “Other” category currently in 13th place, I would think those votes would mostly be taken up by Watson and Mahan.

      Although, perhaps Billy Casper would have been a good addition too.

      Anyway, I’m pleased at the comprehensiveness of the list. It’s a great list to choose from and I think it was covered well.

      We got almost everyone!

  67. Chris

    Jul 8, 2013 at 4:59 pm

    I didn’t look carefully. Elk is clearly on the list. My apologies!

  68. Derek

    Jul 8, 2013 at 4:49 pm

    Adam Scott. I think even God himself wants his swing

    • G

      Jul 9, 2013 at 8:46 am

      I totally disagree. It’s such a forced, showy swing. Bill Haas, all the way – totally natural and fluid.

  69. Chris

    Jul 8, 2013 at 4:44 pm

    Steve Elkington should be on the choice list. Flawless swing.

    • tyler brooke

      Jul 8, 2013 at 11:13 pm

      Agreed, was looking for him on the list.

    • Dolph Lundgrenade

      Jul 13, 2013 at 6:27 pm

      agreed

    • Peter Reich

      Aug 3, 2013 at 1:21 pm

      He is on the list. I’m amazed so many people can’t find him, lol.

  70. Adam

    Jul 8, 2013 at 4:38 pm

    Gotta have Hunter Mahan on here, it’s the swing that Foley says is the model for TW and JR to strive for.

    • dingleberry

      Jul 8, 2013 at 4:51 pm

      He has to much face rotation in his swing.

    • Jaacob Bowden

      Jul 9, 2013 at 10:21 am

      He’s not my favorite swing.

      However, I agree with you, he would’ve been good to have on the list. I’m surprised in my initial polling that his name didn’t come up.

      The “Other” option in the poll is currently ranked 13th, so it’s feasible he could finish that high in the voting.

    • Joel

      Jul 10, 2013 at 12:38 pm

      Couldn’t Agree with you more Adam!

    • c

      Jul 10, 2013 at 5:56 pm

      Chad Campbell over Pat Bates all day, I bet he’d be in the top 30 if you made him a selection

    • John

      Jul 10, 2013 at 10:21 pm

      Completely agree, one of the top ball strikers consistently. If you look, boo, hunter, and dufner have similar “foley,s&t,hogan,turn in a barrel” type swings, though with there own style and subtle differences.

    • Dolph Lundgrenade

      Jul 13, 2013 at 6:27 pm

      Seriously… the modern swing model is not even on the list? pssh.

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Opinion & Analysis

The History of Course Design is Yours to Play at Oglebay

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There is a much-talked about “New Golden Age” of golf course design underway that is driven by demand for ever-more spectacular courses at the top end of the resort golf market. Destinations such as Streamsong, Bandon Dunes, Cabot Links, Sand Valley and others provide the traveling golfer a spectacular golf experience; unfortunately, it comes at a price tag that is equally spectacular. When a week playing golf in Florida can cost as much as a week in Scotland, where do you go for a golf getaway that doesn’t require a second mortgage?

Oglebay Golf Resort in Wheeling, West Virginia, doesn’t just provide an affordable golf vacation option; with its three golf courses, it provides players the chance to experience a condensed history of American golf course design through its three courses. The resort sits on land that was once owned by a wealthy industrialist and is now a part of the city park system. Located about an hour from Pittsburgh, Oglebay draws the majority of its golfers from Pennsylvania, Maryland, Ohio, Virginia and West Virginia. It’s kind of cool that when you drive to Oglebay from the Washington, D.C., you hit all of those states except Ohio, which is just a few minutes away from Wheeling. The area is especially picturesque in the autumn months when the changing colors of the leaves are at their peak.

The property has a rich history in the business and sporting history of West Virginia, but the three golf courses, Crispin, are a special prize that taken together form a primer on the history of golf design in the past 90 years. The 5,670-yard Crispin course is a one-off design by local golf enthusiast Robert Biery that was completed in 1930 and is a fascinating study of design techniques of that era. The slopes and elevation are severe and extreme by today’s standards. A clue was the raised eyebrow of the assistant pro when I said that I would walk the course. Uneven lies are the order of the day, the product of a time when there was neither the money nor equipment readily available to create gentle slopes and even surfaces; the course is true to the original contours of the West Virginia hillside.  There is little relief on the greens, which run a little slower than typical greens but make up for it in size and slope. It is by far the shortest of the three courses but the par-4 8th hole and par-5 9th holes are a thousand yards of joy and pain.

Hole No. 6 at the Klieves course

The Klieves Course is a 6,800-yard, par-71 Arnold Palmer design that was completed in 2000. The design features broad fairways, mildly undulating greens and opportunities for heroics on short par-4’s, all the prototypical characteristics of modern resort golf courses. While some architects choose to torture and torment, Palmer courses put a premium on fun and this one is no exception. The par-5, 515 yard 6th is a great example of the risk/reward available without that challenges the resort golfer without the need to humiliate. The course is very well maintained tee to green, and you’ll want to keep a fully charged battery to take photos of the vistas from the elevated tee boxes.

Hole No. 13 at the Jones course

In my humble opinion, the true gem is the Robert Trent Jones course. The 7,004-yard, par-72 Course carries a healthy 75.1 rating/141 slope from the back tees. It utilizes a gorgeous piece of land that meanders across the West Virginia hills to give a mesmerizing collection of holes that are equal parts scenery and challenge. Both nines start from elevated tee boxes hitting down into valleys that offer classic risk/reward propositions. Usually I have no problem identifying a favorite hole or two, but on this course it’s difficult. Having said that, the stretch of No. 4 (par 3, 193 yards), No. 5 (par-5, 511 yards) and No. 6 (par-4, 420 yards) are among the best I have played anywhere as a show of nature’s beauty and the at of laying out a golf hole. And the four par 3’s are not the place to pic up an easy birdie. The only one less that 190 yards from the tips is the 158-yard 15th, which is protected by a small, undulating green. All in all, it’s a perfect representation of the genius of Robert Trent Jones.

The golf is good at Oglebay and the prices are better. You can get in 18 at the Oglebay courses for as little as $32…on the weekend. And when you’re not playing golf, you can take advantage of the myriad of outdoor sports activities, tour the Oglebay mansion, hit the spa or visit the Glass Museum on the property (I promise it’s a lot more interesting than it sounds). There’s a lot of great new golf resorts out there and that’s a good thing for the golf industry, but destinations like Oglebay prove that there’s a lot of life left in the old classics as well.

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