Greg Norman: Still a Hit
His turn and release remain legendary
By Brad Redding
Top 100 Teacher
Mark O'Meara once told me that Greg Norman hated to see his golf ball go left, that he preferred a slight fade to his shots. That's not surprising when you consider how the 53-year-old Australian idolized and modeled his swing after one of the game's all-time great faders, Jack Nicklaus.
I'm not the biggest fan of Norman's swing, but it was fun to watch it in action again at this year's British Open during his near-miracle romp through Royal Birkdale. Even though Norman has worked with many coaches most notably Butch Harmon in the early and mid 1990s his key moves have changed very little since he emerged on the world stage in the mid 1970s.
Amateurs should ignore the way his swing moves between planes, but pay close attention to the way Norman rotates his upper body going back while keeping his spine angle intact a move that's vital to hitting successful shots, regardless of your skill level.
• 89 worldwide wins
• 1986, 1993 British Open champion
• $14.5 million in career earnings (50th)
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Here's how you can shoot consistent scores for 35 years straight like Norman: Match the angle of your left arm to the angle of your shoulders in your backswing. This simple move makes your swing more compact, more rotary and more reliable.
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One of Norman's best moves is turning his shoulders a full 90 degrees without changing his spine angle. Compare his spine position here to the one in frame 1: It hasn't moved. His trick? He allows his head to drift slightly to the right during his backswing. When you try to keep your head still, you're likely to lean your upper body toward the target as you turn in your backswing. The result? A reverse pivot and a slice.
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10. His release is so full that the shaft literally slams across the center of his back. But notice how the shaft angle matches the one it held at address a great place to finish any swing.
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9. This is the move that Norman is famous for: a free-wheeling release. It results from his tendency to slide his lower body toward the target during his downswing (another "anti-left" move).
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8. Norman's rerouting move doesn't get him all the way back on plane. He's still above the one he established at address, but this effectively takes the left-side trouble out of play.
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7. Notice how his left hand is starting to bow with his knuckles turning toward the ground. This is a great move to copy to help square up the face at impact and prevent a slice.
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6. Norman drops his arms down with a bump and turn of his left hip while keeping his shoulders back. This reroutes the club onto an angle that more closely matches his original swing plane.
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5. Although his club moves across the line (it's pointing right of his target), he establishes two top-position musts: Shoulders turned 90 degrees and left arm matching the shoulders.
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4. Now that his shoulder turn is complete (notice how his shoulders and chest haven't moved from the previous frame), Norman lifts the club up to set it on a more ordinary plane.
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3. His club continues to move inside and his right elbow remains higher than his left. It's his secret way to make a full, 90-degree shoulder turn without changing his posture. Perfect.
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2. Norman takes the club away with his back and chest, evidenced by the fact that his right elbow is higher than his left. He holds off hinging his wrists, which is why the club moves inside.
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1. Norman stands upright at address to match his steep swing, but check out how his feet, hips, shoulders, arms and eyes are all parallel to each other and to his line solid for any swing.
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Norman's club moves on many different planes throughout his swing, but his body angles are dead-on perfect at the top, a by-product of his ability to keep his right elbow above his left in his takeaway (see frame 2). Once you allow your right arm to dip below your left, you're likely to swing too flat or come out of your address posture.
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