A history of golf's strange swings

By Randall MellOctober 22, 2012, 6:55 pm

Tommy “Two Gloves” Gainey reminded us with his victory Sunday at the McGladrey Classic how heart, guts and determination can trump textbook mechanics.

Gainey is a throwback.

In bygone eras, before teaching became so scientific, before video recordings standardized fundamentals, golf swings were more colorful and personal signatures than they are today. That’s not to say, like Gainey, the rebels with homemade swings aren’t still out there. It’s just that there aren’t nearly as many of them.

Here’s a look at the top 10 unorthodox swings in tour golf history (Click for GolfChannel.com debate on today's most unorthodox swing):

1) Moe Norman

Gone for eight years now, congestive heart failure taking him from this world, Norman’s legend lives on.

A two-time Canadian amateur champ and two-time Canadian PGA champ, Norman’s eccentric and shy ways doomed him in an abbreviated try on the PGA Tour. Still, Norman became famous as one of the game’s most unconventional artists.

Known as “Pipeline Moe,” Norman stood over the ball like a man with bolt cutters lining up to snip a chain. With straight, rigid arms and minimal hand and knee action, Norman could repeat his swing as well as any player who ever lived. His finish made him look like he was trying to stab a cloud, but he was famous for how straight he could hit the ball. Tiger Woods once said that only two players ever really “owned” their swings: Ben Hogan and Moe Norman.

“I am in a different world,” Norman once said. “I am in the world of the unknown.”

2) Eamonn Darcy

It’s easier to believe in leprechauns than to believe Darcy won four European Tour events with his swing.

Darcy, an Irishman, won on the tour in the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s with a swing that seemed to defy physics.

Darcy’s right elbow went beyond flying. It nearly went out of orbit on the backswing with his left arm folding like a chicken wing in the follow through. From chaos, he could produce some beautiful shots, good enough in ’87 to help him beat Ben Crenshaw in singles with the Europeans winning the Ryder Cup at Muirfield Village.

3) Miller Barber

Barber won 11 PGA Tour events as a contemporary of Arnold Palmer with a backswing that never came close to reaching parallel. At the top, Barber’s club was nearly bolt upright, like a lightning rod. Somebody once famously described his swing as looking like a man trying to open an umbrella in the wind. “After I loop the club to the inside on the downswing, I look like any other good player,” Barber once said. “The downswing is all that matters.”

4) Hubert Green

Green won 19 PGA Tour titles in the ‘70s and ‘80s, two of them major championships, with a swing that he didn’t even like. Well, Green joked he didn’t like it. “I looked at it once on film and almost puked,” he famously cracked. Green’s swing was compact and quick with a lot of wrist cock. The great Los Angeles Times columnist Jim Murray once said: “His swing looks like a drunk trying to find a key hole in the dark.”

5) Arnold Palmer

As signatures go, Palmer’s swing is a classic. If you only saw it in silhouette, you would instantly know whose swing it was. Really, though, Palmer didn’t swing the club. He hit the ball. He smashed the ball with a blacksmith’s lash and that crouching corkscrew finish. The swing helped him win 62 PGA Tour titles and seven majors.

6) Bob Murphy

If you were at an event watching Murphy begin his back swing, you could probably have bolted to buy a hot dog at a nearby concession stand and returned in time to see him finish his swing. With a slow takeaway, and a pause at the top of his swing, Murphy’s rhythm is what made his swing so unusual and distinctive. He won five PGA Tour events in the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s.

7) Raymond Floyd

He’s inside the line and laid off while taking the club back, nowhere close to being “on plane,” and then his hands redirect skyward toward the top of his swing before he drops the club back inside into more classic position on the way to the ball. Floyd’s homemade swing won him 22 PGA Tour titles, including four majors.

8) Jim Thorpe

It’s more a wicked lash than a golf swing that Thorpe used to win three PGA Tour events in the ‘80s and later to win 13 times on the Champions Tour. Nobody comes into the hitting zone more violently than Thorpe, whose corkscrew finish looks like it could snap a normal man’s vertebrae. Thorpe likes to say NBC’s Johnny Miller told him his swing has “more moves than Kung Fu.”

9) Jim Furyk

David Feherty is credited with saying Furyk looks like an “octopus falling out of a tree” when he swings, but Furyk’s homemade swing has won him 16 PGA Tour titles, including the 2003 U.S. Open. With a double overlapping grip, with a looping takeaway to the outside and a looping drop back to the inside on the downswing, Furyk’s action is the most distinctive of his generation of players.

10) Tommy “Two Gloves” Gainey

A man trying to kill a cockroach with a crowbar may be closer to standard golf fundamentals than Gainey, but the beauty of Gainey’s swing is that it works so well he now calls himself a PGA Tour winner. He won The McGladrey Classic with it. Gainey’s unorthodox swing starts with his unconventional address. He has an extremely strong grip, with his right hand almost palm up. He’s crouched so much lower over the ball than most players. His swing includes some lifting, then a dip, and a lot of hanging back on the follow through. He shot 60 with it Sunday at Sea Island.

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.