McGolf.com Home of 'The Perfect Swing' featuring Jim McLellan
Best of the Planet Awards 1998
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You ain't got a thing if you ain't got the swing

By TOM IERUBINO
Managing Editor, GOLFonline

Before he even starts talking in his video, McLellan catches your attention immediately, and not just because of the colorful Hawaiian shirt he is wearing. The video opens with him walking up to a golf ball, hitting it, then walking down the fairway after it -- pretty much all in one continuous motion. Then he hits a ball while sitting in a chair to show that your legs really aren't an important factor in developing a powerful swing. McLellan makes it look easy, and his goal is to show you how easy it can be to, in his words, "find your best golf swing."

McLellan believes that the golf swing is fairly simple, but the problem with most golfers is they find a way to make it complicated. He points out that the golf swing only takes two seconds from start to finish, and that most of it is out of our control. Therefore, he believes "we don't have to know about all these moving parts."

His is a minimalist approach. He says, "We don't want to think about the golf swing. We just want to let it happen." To this end, his teaching focuses on three things that he says make up a perfect golf swing: a good backswing, keeping the head still, and a good follow through. If you learn how to do these three simple things, you will be able to just let your swing happen.

The key to a good backswing is getting your hands "higher than your hat" at the top of the backswing. That's all there is to it, according to McLellan. He doesn't talk about the takeaway or the shoulder turn or the pivot. Just get your hands up high.

Then he talks about keeping your head still. "If your head moves, your swing moves." He illustrates this with a story about a game he calls "goob." McLellan tees up a golf ball with a flat bottom ("it's tricky to putt with," he says) on a stick about three feet high off the ground, and takes a baseball-type swing at it using a small axe as his club with the non-blade end serving as the clubhead. He shows that if your head moves up as you swing, the club will swing over the top of the ball. If your head moves down as you swing, the club will swing under the ball.

McLellan concludes by saying, "Goob never caught on. Golfers do not mind being called golfers, but people who play goob ..."

His "goob" story illustrates why it is important to keep your head steady during the golf swing.

Before he gets to the follow through, McLellan makes a point about letting the club do the work, and it reminds one of Perot's "I'm Ross and you're the boss" speech. McLellan says, "The club is smarter than you and me. It's the boss. It wants to go there (on the proper path). It wants to take us there."

As for the follow through, McLellan simply talks about finishing with the hands high. He then asks "Where have I seen that before?" (He asks himself questions throughout the video, usually as if he's the student, then answers them.) He answers, "at the top of the backswing. So they (the backswing and follow through) copy each other, that's what they do. That's neat."

While most instructors talk about the grip and the stance before the swing, McLellan doesn't talk about them until after he's gone over the backswing, head still, and follow through. He keeps this simple as well. The only thing of note is his calling the 10-finger or baseball grip by a different name: the unlap grip. He says it doesn't matter whether you use the overlapping, interlocking or unlap grip, as locks as you grip the club properly, which he shows you how to do.

McLellan wraps up the video by talking about practicing the the backswing, head still, and follow through, then just practicing your swing without thinking about any of the three parts. You do all this without hitting a ball. He believes it's a good idea to video tape yourself swinging so you can compare it to what you saw him doing. He believes the best way to learn a good swing is by watching someone with a good swing and copying it.

He illustrates this final point in unique fashion. He picks up a banjo and says "I learned to play the banjo by copying people, not from books -- and here's what happens." He then begins to play the banjo -- and well -- as the credits roll. His final words are "have fun."

GOLFonline, Tom Ierubino, Managing Editor