Snead's swing: The sweetest thing

By Mercer BaggsMarch 15, 2012, 1:15 am

Sam Snead doesn’t get the credit he deserves. It’s a curious statement, but true.

Lost tribes in Brazil know Jack Nicklaus won a record 18 major championships, but poll patrons at a PGA Tour event and see how many can tell you of Snead’s record haul of 82 Tour titles.

Snead won seven major championships, but most conversations focus on his four U.S. Open runner-up showings.

He captured three green jackets, yet there are no bridges or architectural features named in his honor at Augusta National.

And when you talk about golf’s greatest swings, it’s Hogan, Hogan, Hogan. Even Byron Nelson has a swing machine named in his honor – Iron Byron – by the U.S. Golf Association.


Baggs: Snead: Fact, fiction and legend

Photos: Hogan | Nelson | Snead


Ben Hogan is revered for his swing, because he “found it in the dirt.” Hogan worked to perfect his mechanics. Snead was a natural and therefore not worthy of as much praise, or some might think.

It’s true that Snead was gifted athletically. Instructor Jim McLean, who worked with Snead on the video “Sam Snead: Swing for a Lifetime,” once asked NBA legend Jerry West to name the greatest athlete he had ever seen or played with.

“I thought he might say Michael Jordan. Maybe Wilt Chamberlain, since he played with him. Maybe Jim Brown or maybe even himself. He said Sam Snead. He said Sam was the best basketball player, best baseball player, best football player, best at track and field in the state of West Virginia. He could do anything,” McLean relayed.

But to refer to Sam’s ability to hit a golf ball as little more than an innate gift is a discredit to a man who worked diligently to get the most out of what God gave him.

“When he wasn’t playing on Tour, he was back at The Greenbrier practicing. I don’t think he ever went longer than a week or two without playing golf,” said Snead protégé Del Snyder, who worked 19 years for Snead at The Greenbrier, starting in 1955. “He’d hit balls and have someone chase them down. He’d then find someone to play with and go out for 18 holes, and if his swing wasn’t what he wanted it to be, he’d go right back to the range and hit balls again.”

“Sam hated it when you called him a natural,” said William Campbell, a World Golf Hall of Fame member who first met Snead in 1936, “because he worked really hard. You couldn’t last and be competitive for as long as he was without hard work.”

Records give credence to Campbell’s logic. Snead is the oldest player to win on Tour (52 years, 10 months, 8 days). He shot 60, at age 60, in the 1972 PGA. He finished third two years later at 62. He shot his age (67) in the second round of the 1979 Quad Cities Open – then shot 66 in the final round. At age 71, he shot 60 at the Lower Cascades in his home of Hot Springs, Va.

Hogan said, “Sam Snead doesn’t know a thing about hitting a golf ball. He just does it better than anyone else.”

Hogan was right: Snead did do it better than anyone else. And Hogan was wrong: Sam did know what he was doing.

“Sam was very knowledgeable about the golf swing,” McLean said. “He was a player, not a teacher, but if you gave him a little bit of time he would really explain what he was doing.”

“I’ve hit two million practice shots,” Snead once said, “so I ought to know what I’m doing.”

Growing up, Snead would get off the school bus and run directly to the neighboring Homestead resort, where he would assemble hickory-shafted clubs. He’d have to cut each one precisely, making sure that the various clubs had similar flexibility.

“It was hard work, but it helped Sam get a feel for the club,” Campbell said. “As a professional, he was a human testing machine for the Wilson (Sporting Goods) company. Every time they’d come out with a new set of clubs, they’d bring it to Sam to get his feedback.”

Snead relied on feel and didn’t complicate his mechanics. But there’s a difference between ignorance and simplicity. He wrote several instruction books and, according to Jack, pros such as Nick Faldo, Ernie Els and Vijay Singh wanted to work with his father. Faldo even made a trip in the mid-'90s to The Greenbrier, where Sam served in various capacities for roughly 50 years, for some one-on-one time.

“He loved to teach people,” Jack said. “He’d see people hitting balls at The Greenbrier and he’d walk on over and help them out, for hours sometimes. Never charged a thing. Think about that, what a thrill it must have been for someone to have Sam Snead helping them with their game.”

Snead didn’t do everything pro bono, but if you wanted to learn from the best, all you had to do was ask. Unfortunately, few professionals took advantage of his wealth of knowledge.

“I’ve heard from other people that Sam was a little bit disappointed that we – the generation below him – didn’t seek him out for more advice because he had so much to offer,” said Curtis Strange, who met Snead as a 6-year-old, when his father was head pro at The Greenbrier.

“Sam was my hero. Everything I did growing up was related to Sam. ‘Did Sam do this? Did Sam do that?’ You know, with the golf swing. I thought the world of him.”

Fuzzy Zoeller was 14 when he first met Snead. They played several rounds together and spent lots of time in each other’s company on Augusta National grounds after Zoeller won the ’79 Masters.

“The talent that man had to hit the golf ball, to hit all the different shots – little hooks and little cuts. You go and see these kids today, they just whale away and they don’t care where it goes. The art that man had was outstanding,” Zoeller said.

“He was graceful,” said two-time Masters champion Ben Crenshaw, “just incredible to watch.”

Snead’s tempo can be attributed to learning the game by fashioning his first set of clubs from broken buggy whips. Hitting a golf ball with a club head attached to such a flexible shaft, you develop classic timing – or you smash your shin.

“His swing was poetry in motion,” McLean said. “Doing the video, we had some of the legends take part: Nicklaus, Player, Trevino, Watson. And they all talked about the same thing, it was that tempo, that rhythm, the gracefulness of Snead. Jack (Nicklaus) said that he always played better when he played with Sam because his swing would become smoother.”

Jack Snead noted that while his father’s swing produced great power, it centered on a soft touch.

“Let me see your arm,” he said, placing a very delicate grip on my wrist. “Feel how light that is? That’s how Dad gripped the club – you could pull it right out of his hands – and he hit it over 300 yards with persimmon. He would put lead weight on the back of his clubs, too. He wanted the weight of the club to take it back, not his hands.”

Jack also pointed out that his father played a couple of musical instruments, including the trumpet, and “swung with a waltzing tune in his head. Dah dah dah dah – dah dah – dah dah. Three times longer to take it back as it comes down.”

By contrast, Hogan’s swing was a full second quicker. Snead wouldn’t even watch Hogan hit a ball for fear it would disturb his own rhythm.

Tiger Woods once said, “Only two players have ever truly owned their swings: Moe Norman and Ben Hogan.”

But even Hogan knew who owned the sweetest swing.

“Ben once said Sam had the greatest, purest swing he’d ever seen,” said Campbell. “That was high praise.”

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Golf Channel to Deliver Worldwide Coverage of the 2018 PGA Merchandise Show, "The Major of Golf Business," Tueday-Friday, Jan. 23-26

By Golf Channel Public RelationsJanuary 22, 2018, 2:45 pm

Morning Drive, Golf Central to Give Viewers Insider Access to the PGA Show with Nearly 20 Hours of Live Coverage; Golf Channel’s School of Golf Instruction Program to Originate From On-Site

Golf Channel’s Portfolio of Lifestyle Brands – GolfNow, Golf Channel Academy, Revolution Golf and World Long Drive On-Site at the PGA Show Contributing to the Network’s Comprehensive Coverage

 

ORLANDO, Fla. (Jan. 18, 2018) – Golf Channel announced plans for its comprehensive coverage of the 2018 PGA Merchandise Show – the largest golf convention and business gathering in the world – with nearly 20 hours of news and instruction coverage Tuesday, Jan. 23 – Friday, Jan. 26. Golf Channel’s coverage will span across the four days, beginning Tuesday with the “PGA Show Demo Day” from the Orange County National Golf Center & Lodge driving range in Winter Garden, Fla., and continuing Wednesday-Friday at the PGA Merchandise Show from the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando.

With an insider look at the PGA Merchandise Show – a golf industry event that is not open to the public – Golf Channel’s coverage via Morning Drive and Golf Central will be delivered to a worldwide audience in more than 36 countries. Coverage will provide viewers live interviews with industry leaders, professional golfers from the world’s major tours, PGA of America members and a comprehensive overview of the latest products and trends for 2018 from some of the nearly 1,100 golf brands exhibiting on-site.

PGA Merchandise Show Week Programming Schedule: Jan. 23-26 (All Times Eastern)

Tuesday

Morning Drive

7-11 a.m. (Live)

 

Tuesday

Golf Central

5-6 p.m. (Live)

 

Tuesday

School of Golf

8-9 p.m.

 

Wednesday

Morning Drive

7-11:30 a.m. (Live)

 

Wednesday

Golf Central

5-6 p.m. (Live)

 

Thursday

Morning Drive

8:30-11:30 a.m. (Live)

 

Thursday

Golf Central

7-8 p.m. (Live)

 

Friday

Morning Drive

8:30-11:30 a.m. (Live)

 

Friday

Golf Central

7-8 p.m. (Live)

 

 

BROADCAST TEAM

Golf Channel’s expansive coverage of the PGA Merchandise Show will utilize several on-air personalities from the network’s news division, beginning with Charlie Rymer and Lauren Thompson offering coverage of the PGA Show Outdoor Demo Day on Tuesday. In addition to Rymer and Thompson, Wednesday-Friday coverage from the PGA Show Floor will include Matt Adams, Cara Banks, Lisa Cornwell, Matt Ginella, Damon Hack, Bailey Mosier and Gary Williams.

DIGITAL & STREAMING COVERAGE

Golf Channel’s PGA Merchandise Show on-air coverage will be available to stream via Golf Channel Digital Tuesday-Friday. Comprehensive online editorial coverage also will be available throughout the week, with contributions from writers Jay Coffin and Will Gray. Golf Channel’s social media platforms will keep viewers engaged in the conversation about what’s generating buzz at the #PGASHOW throughout the week via the network’s social media channels – @GolfChannel and @GCMorningDrive on Twitter, @GolfChannel and @GCMorningDrive on Instagram and GolfChannel and GCMorningDrive on Facebook. Golf Channel social media host Alexandra O’Laughlin will host Golf Channel’s digital and social media coverage throughout the week.

PGA SHOW DEMO DAY COVERAGE

Golf Channel’s coverage of “Demo Day” will begin Tuesday, Jan. 23 at 7 a.m. ET with Morning Drive airing live and on-site to highlight the latest in golf equipment from the expansive driving range at Orange County National. Rymer and Thompson will host Morning Drive on-site, featuring interviews and product demonstrations.

PGA MERCHANDISE SHOW FLOOR COVERAGE

Coverage of the PGA Show will transition indoors to the Orange County Convention Center, Wednesday-Friday, Jan. 24-26 to give viewers an all-access tour of the PGA Show. Morning Drive and Golf Central will provide on-site reports throughout the week, with featured interviews and segments originating from the PGA Show Floor. Coverage from the Convention Center will originate from a large, multi-purpose space elevated above the PGA Show Floor, with three set configurations for interviews, along with a putting green and a golf simulator for product demonstrations. Golf Channel also will feature a “Fly Cam,” a unique camera technology made popular in televising football and other sports. Suspended above the PGA Show Floor, the Fly Cam will span more than 700 feet, giving viewers an aerial viewpoint of the vast floor and the exhibitors. New for 2018 will be a “Jib Cart,” a mobile cart with a camera jib affixed allowing high shots of the booths throughout the Show Floor.

SCHOOL OF GOLF KICKS OFF EIGHTH SEASON WITH ONE-HOUR SPECIAL FROM DEMO DAY

School of Golf, Golf Channel’s signature instruction program that airs on Tuesday nights, will kick off its eighth season with a one-hour special at Demo Day on Tuesday, Jan. 23, airing in primetime from 8-9 p.m. ET. Originating from the Cleveland Golf/Srixon/XXIO booth on the Orange County National driving range and hosted by Martin Hall and Blair O’Neal, the show will include special guests and interactions with a live audience.

GOLF CHANNEL’S PORTFOLIO OF LIFESTYLE BRANDS ON-SITE AT PGA SHOW

In addition to Golf Channel’s on-air and digital coverage, the network’s lifestyle brands – GolfNow, World Long Drive, Golf Channel Academy and Revolution Golf will showcase their services at the PGA Show with special clinics, product demonstrations and on-site activations.

GOLFNOW EXHIBITING AT BOOTH #2173

GolfNow, the industry’s leader in golf-related technology and services, will be exhibiting Wednesday-Friday from Booth #2173. In addition to showcasing advanced technologies that have created the largest tee-time marketplace in golf, GolfNow also will be educating course owners and operators about innovations and services designed to help them run their businesses more efficiently and successfully. GolfNow Business experts will be on hand at GolfNow’s 2,400-square-foot booth, offering its course partners technology demonstrations, as well as consultation on any of the GolfNow Services: Plus, a top-line focused consultative performance system for golf courses, including marketing, sales and automated pricing; Answers, a call center for golf courses, answering customer calls day and night; and Ride, a no-cost purchasing program that saves course operators from 6-35 percent on items they buy day-to-day, such as food, office supplies and agricultural products.

WORLD LONG DRIVE BRACKET CHALLENGE

Thursday at 2 p.m. ET, World Long Drive competitors will be at the PGA Show to compete in a World Long Drive Bracket Challenge. Hosted by Golf Channel’s social media host Alexandra O’Laughlin and airing live via Golf Channel’s Facebook Live, the competition will take place at Golf Channel’s simulator on the Show Floor featuring eight men and four women, including World No. 2 Ryan Reisbeck, No. 3 Maurice Allen, No. 5 Trent Scruggs and 2017 Volvik World Long Drive Women’s Champion Sandra Carlborg.

GOLF CHANNEL ACADEMY INSTRUCTION

Wednesday-Friday, Golf Channel Academy coaches will provide on-site instruction clinics at Golf Channel’s simulator set on the Show Floor. Wednesday’s clinics will feature driving, full swing, wedge play and putting clinics. Thursday’s clinic will include the full swing and Friday’s clinic will feature the short game, all streamed live via Golf Channel Academy’s Facebook page.

REVOLUTION GOLF TO SHOOT DIGITAL INSTRUCTION SEGMENTS ON-SITE AT PGA SHOW

Revolution Golf, the industry’s largest direct-to-consumer digital platform delivering high-quality video-based instruction, travel content and integrated e-commerce will have a significant presence at the PGA Show. Golf Channel’s newest digital acquisition, Revolution Golf will be shooting digital segments at Demo Day and throughout the PGA Show Floor, including segments with its team of instructors.

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CareerBuilder purse payouts: Rahm wins $1.062 million

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 12:50 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry on the fourth hole of sudden death to win the CareerBuilder Challenger. Here's a look at how the purse was paid out in La Quinta, Calif.:

1 Jon Rahm -22 $1,062,000
2 Andrew Landry -22 $637,200
T3 Adam Hadwin -20 $306,800
T3 John Huh -20 $306,800
T3 Martin Piller -20 $306,800
T6 Kevin Chappell -19 $205,025
T6 Scott Piercy -19 $205,025
T8 Brandon Harkins -18 $171,100
T8 Jason Kokrak -18 $171,100
T8 Sam Saunders -18 $171,100
T11 Harris English -17 $135,700
T11 Seamus Power -17 $135,700
T11 Jhonattan Vegas -17 $135,700
T14 Bud Cauley -16 $106,200
T14 Austin Cook -16 $106,200
T14 Grayson Murray -16 $106,200
T17 Andrew Putnam -15 $88,500
T17 Peter Uihlein -15 $88,500
T17 Aaron Wise -15 $88,500
T20 Ricky Barnes -14 $57,754
T20 Stewart Cink -14 $57,754
T20 Brian Harman -14 $57,754
T20 Beau Hossler -14 $57,754
T20 Charles Howell III -14 $57,754
T20 Zach Johnson -14 $57,754
T20 Ryan Palmer -14 $57,754
T20 Brendan Steele -14 $57,754
T20 Nick Taylor -14 $57,754
T29 Lucas Glover -13 $36,706
T29 Russell Knox -13 $36,706
T29 Nate Lashley -13 $36,706
T29 Tom Lovelady -13 $36,706
T29 Kevin Streelman -13 $36,706
T29 Hudson Swafford -13 $36,706
T29 Richy Werenski -13 $36,706
T36 Jason Dufner -12 $27,189
T36 Derek Fathauer -12 $27,189
T36 James Hahn -12 $27,189
T36 Chez Reavie -12 $27,189
T36 Webb Simpson -12 $27,189
T36 Tyrone Van Aswegen -12 $27,189
T42 Bronson Burgoon -11 $18,983
T42 Ben Crane -11 $18,983
T42 Brian Gay -11 $18,983
T42 Chesson Hadley -11 $18,983
T42 Patton Kizzire -11 $18,983
T42 Hunter Mahan -11 $18,983
T42 Kevin Na -11 $18,983
T42 Rob Oppenheim -11 $18,983
T50 Alex Cejka -10 $14,025
T50 Corey Conners -10 $14,025
T50 Michael Kim -10 $14,025
T50 Kevin Kisner -10 $14,025
T50 Sean O'Hair -10 $14,025
T50 Sam Ryder -10 $14,025
T50 Nick Watney -10 $14,025
T57 Robert Garrigus -9 $13,039
T57 Tom Hoge -9 $13,039
T57 David Lingmerth -9 $13,039
T57 Ben Martin -9 $13,039
T57 Trey Mullinax -9 $13,039
T57 Brett Stegmaier -9 $13,039
T63 Scott Brown -8 $12,449
T63 Wesley Bryan -8 $12,449
T63 Brice Garnett -8 $12,449
T63 Sung Kang -8 $12,449
T67 Talor Gooch -7 $12,095
T67 Tom Whitney -7 $12,095
T69 Matt Every -6 $11,623
T69 Billy Hurley III -6 $11,623
T69 Smylie Kaufman -6 $11,623
T69 Keith Mitchell -6 $11,623
T69 Rory Sabbatini -6 $11,623
T69 Chris Stroud -6 $11,623
75 John Peterson -5 $11,210
76 Abraham Ancer -4 $11,092
77 Ben Silverman 4 $10,974
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After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard


On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

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Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

He picked up one more No. 2, too.

The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

“It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.