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Review: Butch Harmon About Golf instructional DVD

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If I could have dinner with one golfing great, I’m not sure who I’d pick.

I’ve wavered between Tiger Woods, Ben Hogan, Greg Norman and Phil Mickelson. At the 2012 PGA Merchandise show, I took part in a dinner with legendary instructor Butch Harmon, who has been a teacher or personal friend to every one of them, and many other of the game’s top names. It wasn’t the same as having dinner plans with each of my golfing heroes. It was almost better.

At the event, Harmon talked about his new instructional DVD, “Butch Harmon About Golf presented by Titleist,” and shared stories about some of the most memorable moments of his life — one which has been enmeshed with golf’s most legendary names since his childhood.

Golf writers like to debate how the players of each generation compare to one another, and who would win in a head-to-head matchup in each player’s prime. I doubt that there is anyone in the world as qualified as Harmon to weigh in on the discussion.

It was Harmon’s opinion that the players from the past — Hogan, Sam Snead, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Lee Trevino and Seve Ballesteros, to name a few, had more ability to work the ball and vary shot trajectories than today’s players, and would most likely rise to the top in today’s game because of those skills and the advantages of modern equipment. But he also said that had these players grown up in today’s instruction climate, where teachers are sometimes apt to change a player’s natural tendencies in favor of their teaching methodology, we might have never heard of some of golf’s founding fathers.

Harmon echoes his beliefs in his new DVD, saying up front that he does not believe there is just one correct way to swing a golf club. He talks at length about the importance of the fundamentals throughout the DVD’s  four hours and 57 chapters — things like grip, posture, stance and alignment, but also dives much deeper than these introductory lessons.

One of my favorite moments in the DVD came early, in Harmon’s discussion of the back swing. He said that a player’s weight has to move in the same direction as the clubhead throughout the swing. I’ve heard so many explanations of how the club and body work together, but none as simple as Harmon’s tip.

Harmon breaks down each part of the swing, and also covers specific trouble shots that golfers face such as when the the ball is above a player’s feet, below a player’s feet, the uphill lie, the down hill lie, fairway bunker shots, etc. For more advanced players, Harmon also covers specialty shots like Tiger’s famous stinger (a must watch lesson that seems almost too simple, but works), flop shots and buried bunker shots. He also shares remedies for two of golf’s scariest shots, the shank and the yip. Whether the segment is for the elementary or advanced, however, there is still something for players of all levels to learn from Harmon, including a segment about golf-specific fitness from Dr. Greg Rose of the Titleist Performance Institute (TPI) and chapters on proper club fitting.

The knowledge and drills Harmon has absorbed from the large stable of Tour pros he’s coached throughout his 40 years as an instructor are no doubt the most valuable part of the DVD, but its most impressive aspect may be that unlike many other instructional videos, it is not a swing-centric production. There are several segments on the proper mindset, practice routine, and short game and putting. After most segments, Harmon highlights the tips he shared in the previous footage with the help of a star-studded cast — Adam Scott, Nick Watney, Dustin Johnson, Natalie Gulbis and Phil Mickelson. There’s also interviews with these players about the impact Harmon had on their games, which features Harmon’s most famous student, Tiger Woods.

It was clear to me at Harmon’s dinner that he is a master communicator. This trait is obvious throughout in the DVD, which at many times feels more like a conversation than an influx of information. In the instructional segments on juniors, seniors and women, Harmon showcases his ability to put golfers at ease in the sometimes uncomfortable setting of a golf lesson, and instructs with a grace that PGA Professionals will be sure to notice.

The DVD will be available March 1, 2012, for $79.95 on-line at www.butchharmondvd.com.

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  1. Bryan Longlois

    Jan 18, 2013 at 7:04 am

    just as there are lots of great golfers there are also great teachers
    myself im still in the quest to play in the low 70s but i have to admit
    breaking 80 was a milestone.come an find out how to do it in two weeks
    youll be amazed

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Clement: How to stay with your golf shots and stop swaying

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Nothing better than being able to stay with your golf shots and create some powerful leverage to apply some compression through your golf shots like smashing through a door with a battering ram! Get a GOLF SWING WITH LAG, POWER AND SPEED!

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Shawn Clement analyzes Tiger and Charlie Woods’ new golf swings

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Man, I am SO IMPRESSED with the progress and polish Charlie Woods has made with his golf swing in the last year; and boy it’s nice to see Tiger swinging and playing golf! Charlie still has the strong grip but a bit more tempered which allows him to stay more connected to the ground and streamline the efficiency in his golf swing and never taking away his ability to find his targets! Check it out!!

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The Wedge Guy: Learning at home

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I feel blessed to have spent my life in South Texas, where we have the luxury of playing golf year-round. Sure, we have some bad winter weather, but it usually only lasts a few days, then it’s back to the course, maybe with a light sweater or windbreaker . . . but oftentimes in shorts, even in December-February. One of the first things I had to learn when I got into the golf industry 40 years ago, was that so many of you have genuine seasonality to your golf – and actually “hang ‘em up” for months on end.

If you are one of those, or just any golfer who wants to get better in 2022, the great thing about this game is you can work on many improvements without even getting the golf ball involved. So, here are some ideas how you can improve your golf game indoors.

I have made it a life’s work to observe golfers of all skill levels to see what they do that either helps them hit quality golf shots with reliability . . . or what they do that practically makes it near impossible to do so. To me, what separates the better players from those that struggle are several core fundamentals – some have them down pretty darn tight, while others just do not seem to grasp them.

I’ve long believed that you can learn and ingrain these core fundamentals in the comfort of your own home, without even swinging a club. So, with that in mind, let me offer you some thoughts that might help you shrink that handicap, regardless of what it might be.

Learn a proper grip. I see so many recreational golfers who just do not hold the club in such a way that allows proper rotation and release of the hands through impact. The great golfers before us pretty much nailed that part of the process very early in their own learning curves and have shared that with us for decades. While you might prefer an overlap, interlock or ten-finger (not baseball) grip on the club, the fundamentals do not change much from one to the other. The club has to be held in the fingers, not the palms, in order for it to move properly through the swing. It really is that simple. Learn a proper grip and make it instinctive and you are taking a giant step to better golf. There are lots of good guides to a proper grip that can be found online, and even some great training grips that guide you to the correct hold on the club.

Build a proper setup. Again, anyone can learn how to put themselves in an athletic position that gives the body a solid starting point for the golf swing. There is no reason at all for anyone to ignore this solid fundamental. Watch the tour players – PGA and LPGA alike, and you will see very little “personalization” of this preparation for the golf swing. They all look almost identical – save for differences in height and weight – at the start of the golf swing. Again, refer to the internet and photos in magazines to see how the body should be positioned to set up a sound, fundamentally solid swing.
Understand the roles of the body and arms. From my observation, the vast majority of recreational golfers control the entire golf swing with the hands and arms, rather than the body core. That’s only “natural”, because you have a ball sitting there in front of you, and a club in your hands with which to hit it . . . makes sense to fully engage your master hand . . . but that isn’t what golf is about. Golf is about learning a powerful repeating swing, then learning how to set yourself up in such a way that the ball will be precisely in the way of the clubhead as you execute that swing.

I strongly suggest you watch and study slow-motion swing videos of accomplished tour professionals. These will show you what is fundamentally correct. From the start of the downswing, the sequence of body core rotation releases power from the legs to the hips to the core and shoulders, and the arms, hands and golf club are the “followers”, getting to the ball last.
The easiest way to learn the proper rotation of the body core in the golf swing is to cross your arms in front of you, holding a club against your chest. Feet shoulder width apart for balance. Now, rotate your body into the “backswing” until your shoulders are rotated as far as is comfortable, and you feel your weight moving to the inside of your back foot. Then rotate back to your left (for right hand players), starting with the knees/legs, then hips, then shoulders until you feel your weight move to the outside of your lead (left) foot. Do this rotation drill over and over and over until you really “nail it” without thinking about it. As you do, then tilt your upper body so that the club points downward with the shoulder tilt.

As you learn this feel of the body core being the driver and the arms/hands/club being the follower, you will make giant strides toward building a much better and more powerful golf swing.

There’s just no way I can give “lessons” in this blog, but I hope this made lots of sense to all of you. The more “perfect” you can make your grip, posture, and body core rotation, the more power and precision you will build into your golf swing.

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