When I teach golf, I always keep Mike Furyk in mind. His son Jim,
winner of the Doral-Ryder Open, is one of the best players in the
world, although he has a highly unorthodox swing. Mike, a PGA
teaching pro, had the wisdom to leave in place what his talented
son did naturally. Too often, instructors do just the opposite.
The problem is, perfect doesn't exist. Look at Bruce Lietzke,
with whom I roomed when we attended Houston and who was tied for
the lead at Doral in the first round before finishing ninth. He
has a bad grip, takes the club way inside and loops it to the
outside on his downswing. Yet no Tour player requires less
practice to retain an effective, repeatable swing. That's
because all those strange moves are natural to Bruce.
Colin Montgomerie has a hip slide on his backswing that 99% of
modern teachers would change immediately. He takes the club back
outside, way beyond parallel, and finishes as if he's holding a
sack of laundry. He has also finished first on the European
tour's money list for seven straight years.
The list of imperfect swingers includes Nancy Lopez, Jack
Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Lee Trevino. Even Tiger Woods, who
has made some impressive swing changes in the last two years,
won a ton of tournaments with a closed club face and a left foot
that jumped sideways through impact.
Here's the point: A player with a manufactured swing usually
lacks one vital ingredient--athleticism. I believe that because
the unique moves that are part of so many of the swings of great
players are natural, the players have faith they will hold up
under the gun. As Trevino explained to me, "Nobody owns his
swing like I own mine."
We should remember that, by definition, greatness implies
difference more than sameness. Ask Mike Furyk.
Jim McLean is the director of golf at Doral Resort and Spa.