Jack Nicklaus (1963) Golf Swing Analysis

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Man, how far do you think Nicklaus would have been hitting it with this swing (circa 1963) and today’s technology? I’m guessing he would be Bubba Watson long, but infinitely more controlled. The most interesting thing here is Nicklaus’s backswing. Definitely not what is taught to young prodigies today: too much leg and hip movement (how about that left heel lift?), shaft inside, club across the line at the top. But what the hell, it worked better than anything anyone else was doing, and became the model for a generation of wannabe players. I still can’t get over the size of those thighs. Learn the Pivot Compression Golf Swing: Join The Wayne DeFrancesco Golf Learning Center Online today! www.wdglc.com


DASH1ful says:

The main difference between his swing here and the actual “Young Jack Nicklaus” video, taken when he was 15, is that he is level left at address here

spacefieldtime says:

Your analogy is close, Nicklaus did everything to not come over the top which could reduce accuracy and power; he gets away with some odd moves due to the stiff shaft technology of the time and probably one reason he tinkered so much with Jack Grout with different weightings. One fascinating factor is Nicklaus has a well thought out swing with more emphasis on keys like head back rather than an overall aesthetic swing even though the end product is remarkable. Great analysis revealing the flaws!

lardbodger says:

People talk a lot of bullshit about golf swings. Seems to me the best players just did what worked for them.

hirkala says:

I like to think of Jack’s swing as a baseball swing where instead of stepping towards the pitcher he simply stepped into the ground.

hirkala says:

I used to lift my left heel up like that and plant it down hard too. I hit the ball 40 yards further than I do now but far less accurately. I keep my left heel down now and get in a lot less trouble but I am currently suffering from an aggravated sciatic nerve. There is definitely a link to back trouble and keep the left heel planted.

the24thman says:

Yes there is. Just ask Lee Comeaux…

TheCrazedmuscian says:

I love the game of golf. One of the best ways to get rid of stress… But back to my point. I played baseball when I was younger, and it’s not that I’m old now ( 18). But baseball ruined my golf swing. And looking at this he has a baseball like swing. I mean rotate the hips, keep eyes on the ball, puts weight into front foot. Would this be a good swing ” style” to learn as someone who struggles Driving the ball?

kiwijohn01 says:

Wow – I am no expert in the golf swing (even though I have about 10 of em 🙂 but having some experience in human movement, and rehab after injury, I don’t see many “good ‘ golf swings being something to aspire to if you have poor fitness and flexibility ! Surely there is a more powerful and simpler motion?

fradaja says:

well jack and Arnie had very long careers! and they both lifted their left heel ! now Bubba does it, all the players who have had famous back trouble keep the left heel down! Seve, couples,etc……i do believe there is a link……im goin back to it!

fradaja says:

no not what im saying,what i am saying is that the courses are longer and harder than ever before,there are more pro golfers than ever,they are fit stong athletes……not someone who works in a chip shop all week and plays the occasional tournament!….so to say he would make a mockerey of todays courses is as idiotic as it is childish…..sorry i should have made myself clearer!

Wayne Defrancesco says:

While I also like hanging from a bar, I find that hanging out in a bar makes everything feel better, and the blood rushes to your head more gradually.

CaribSurfKing1 says:

P.S. loved your video on the Tiger body dip and how the greats do it to get leverage against the ground. Rory is the latest example!

CaribSurfKing1 says:

I lived in the DC area for a couple of years in the mid 2000’s, almost came over for a lesson. 3rd in the Mid Atl. Am. in my 30’s. But I cannot play more than 1 round without massive right hip pain ( back suffers trying to save my hips ) and left ankle pain. Hit way to many balls when I started in my late 20’s ( got to scratch in a year, but got first back injury a year later )
I have found that leg weights, roller blading and hanging from a bar helps the core, but the joints just wear out.

Wayne Defrancesco says:

I hurt my back when I was relatively young. After I made first team all-american with a “reverse-c” finish and tried to play as a professional my back disintegrated and I ended up having 3 surgeries, including a 2-level fusion in 1986. There really is no way to hit a golf ball effectively without stressing the back. If you have a bad back, or if it goes bad on you, you simply are going to struggle with the game. You can’t find a great player who looks like they have a “back friendly” swing.

CaribSurfKing1 says:

I have almost identical swing, except I have always brought it way to inside in the backswing, which I have slowly fixed as the years have gone by, like Nicklaus.
But I now have big problems in my lower right back and right hip due to the straightening of the body at impact, and too many range balls + age.
Maybe do a video on a few different swings and how they injured each player and how to avoid permanent injuries due to the type of swing you have as you get older.

Wayne Defrancesco says:

Are you saying that a massive hip turn is laughable? Bubba might disagree.

fradaja says:

go look at all the old players,they all generated power through a massive hip turn,how you can possibly say he would make a mockery of todays golf courses is laughable!

Andrew Luther says:

This is a self-taught type, steeper swing. Shows that it doesn’t matter where you are in the backswing so long as everything is good on the way down. BTW, Jack in his prime would make a MOCKERY of golf courses today if he was using new equipment. His swing speed is outrageous. Most guys would SERIOUSLY injure themselves with a full effort swing like the dirver swing shown here.

MrVerandus says:

You should do George Knudson

Billye Hollister says:

Wayne, it’s remarkable to me how these guys criticize your evaluations… I’ve seen about 15 of your videos now and think you’re spot on with your evaluations. You’re entitled to your teaching philosophy/opinions and I’d love to have a lesson from you. I’d actually like to see these so called experts give their eval to see how it “should be done.” I’m not a scratch but a 7 or 8 handicap and almost everything you touch on makes perfect sense. Keep ’em coming, thanks for taking the time.

sugarlandscott says:

Excellent as usual, Wayne. I could not find the ‘Channel Comments’ section, so apologies for the off-topic nature of this comment. What swing analysis software do you use? Thanks!

SnakeFeeder says:

I must apologies for my initial comments the other day….I think I was a little harsh! That day I had watch a lot of swings being analyses with the commentators drawing lines like spiderwebs all over the place, and by the time I got to yours I guess I unleashed an the whole lot collectively and unfortunately you copped the brunt of it. I’ve just had a look through several of your videos and it seems that at least to some extent we’re singing the same song. I especially liked your analysis of T

brad stecklein says:

is this sheldon from big bang theory?

Wayne Defrancesco says:

Thanks for taking the time. I have to chew on this for a bit but I would like to get into it further. Expect a question or two.

SnakeFeeder says:

…thus providing a greater margin for error and hence more consistency and accuracy. That’s my two cents worth anyway…

SnakeFeeder says:

…the physics of motion within dynamic situations such as a golf swing, we would not be seeing this modern trend (ie. ‘fashion’) toward flatter baseball type swings that involve, by definition, a far smaller margin for error when it comes to impacting the ball with the clubface square [and] travelling directly along the target line. Whilst all good swings meet this condition at some point (albeit momentarily), an upright plane maintains the proximal position for longer…(cont)

SnakeFeeder says:

…to make here is that incorrect measurement of swing plane – whether because of parallax error, misinterpretation of ‘laid off’ or ‘across the line’ due to observation of the shaft in non-horizontal positions, or simply defining the plane incorrectly by the shaft at address, will lead to some very poor assumptions being made about what is actually happening in a golf swing. For these reasons, I believe that if golfers had a better understanding of simple geometry and how it applies in…(cont)

SnakeFeeder says:

…are getting further from the real plane (left arm/shoulder/clubhead/ball) the flatter they get. This leads to a ‘plane’ that is not really a plane at all (rather imagine a flattish cone with the apex at the left shoulder and the rim being traced by the clubhead). Such a swing requires unnecessary manipulation – that may take many forms – in order to reach the impact square, and will most certainly be more difficult to achieve consistent accuracy. All that aside, the point I’m trying…(cont)

SnakeFeeder says:

…shaft and left arm would be on this line. Moreover, the left arm and hand would have tracked this line all the way from the top toward impact. Nicklaus, in particular, was very close to this idealised arrangement. The modern trend toward flatter swing planes is probably due (at least in part) to players and swing analysts measuring an irrelevant plane – ie. shaft angle at address. This will lead to a misplaced desire to swing flat, thinking that they are ‘on plane’ when in fact they…(cont)

SnakeFeeder says:

…that he couple play reasonable golf when ‘open’ but if ‘closed’ the ball could go anywhere – since this usually meant a buckled left wrist. Assuming the correct camera angle as outlined above, and a backswing that holds the shaft horizontal that the top, the most significant line that can be drawn (relating to swing plane) is one from the ball to the player’s left hand. In an idealised swing, this line would run directly along the centre of the player’s left arm, and at impact the…(cont)

SnakeFeeder says:

…just before the backswing completes and just after the downswing begins. From this ‘square’ position at the top, the player can initiate the downswing with no manipulation back toward the plane, however if ‘closed’ (laid off left) he must ‘drop’ the hands starting down, or if ‘open’ (across the line to the right) he must ‘push’ the hands out slightly to get back up to the level of the plane. In the case of Nicklaus, he always played his best golf when square. He was quoted as saying…(cont)

SnakeFeeder says:

…IF the shaft is horizontal at the top. Otherwise, it must be related to an imaginary disc (the plane) that has tangents at the ball and the player’s left hand…ie. if the shaft is short or long of horizontal at the top. This will make a shorter [on plane] swing appear to be laying off slightly left, and a longer swing slightly across the line and right, although in the latter case it can be observed as square when moving through the horizontal position….(cont)

SnakeFeeder says:

To observe the actual plane of a golf swing one must firstly do so from a [camera] position directly behind the player. The best approximation may be half way between the player’s heels and the ball, although there will still be some parallax error here. For zero parallax error the camera must be in line with the feet. From there, a swing that is on plane will have the shaft parallel to a line drawn between the heels (assuming a square foot placement) – however this can ONLY be observed…(cont)

Wayne Defrancesco says:

Please enlighten us with specifics. Everyone is interested in learning.

SnakeFeeder says:

I wish you guys drawing lines on videos would at least TRY to get a grasp on basic geometry! That way you would draw the right lines to illustrate your points. Almost every comment in this video that related to a drawn line or plane was incorrect due to a basic misunderstanding of geometry and perspective on the part of the self proclaimed ‘analyst’. What a joke!

ScruffyNick33 says:

My god, the power he had then was insane! I wonder how far he would hit it with the modern clubs…..great to see the great in their early years and like palmer, jack couldn’t half smack it

ryankklein says:

Jack kept his eyes on the ball at all times, that’s the point of the keeping your head still, can’t hit what you can’t see in sports, remember he was an athlete that played all sports and knew how important hand eye coordination is

eleteraider says:

Jack was big especially in the legs, the ball weighs 6 oz, jack weighed idk but a lot, so when you
take all your mass,weight,and add speed and momentum with that, the ball goes a lot further.
Especially when you get those hips turned and have weight transfer then you can even put more momentum and speed into that.

eleteraider says:

People today are RETARDED. Jack Nicklaus was the greatest player to EVER live. Everyone
thinks his swing is stupid
* The reason why he picked his foot up is weight transfer, when he picked it up all his weight on his right side then you can turn your hips and just crush the ball
* ALSO the reason y his swing is like this is because when you get the club vertical and the right elbow up, then your hands are always inside the swing plane.
* NEXT, use physics

watertonrivers says:

What’s really amazing to me is that most people back in day, giving Golf instruction would say that a flying right elbow is incorrect. I guess the were just thinking, well don’t do what Jack does, just believe us…lol. I’ve always had a flying right elbow, and I will never change. My two favorite players who do this; Jack Nicklaus and Freddie Couples.

bluffweta1 says:

hes doing it by feel i think

Wayne Defrancesco says:

Are you kidding? This is Jack Nicklaus you’re talking about, only the greatest player to ever walk the planet. Did you ever think that the fact that he had his foot turned out might mean that it is actually a good idea to do so? If not, then perhaps you should contemplate that idea for a few moments….

TheGolfSage says:

At address, Jack’s right foot is not set square to the target line. This makes it harder to keep your weight on the inside of the right foot as the backswing proceeds. If your weight transfers to the outside of your right foot, it is harder to stay balanced at the end of your backswing. This makes it more difficult to smoothly start your downswing move with the legs and quickly start transferring your body weight back to the left side to generate maximum power at impact.–GS.

Mark Sherer says:

Don Trahan uses the upright back swing and forward swing with almost none of the lower body movement.

johngolfi says:

I’m sorry but I don’t know if I should take that as a good or a bad comment.. (no joke) Anyway, almost everything you say as an instructor I really can’t complain about. you have good preferences and good stuff to back it up. As for me I have a problem with the swing when I lower my head, staying level through out the swing works best for me. And as Jack said himself “what works best for you is whats important. Have a nice day Wayne, nice talking to ya 🙂

Wayne Defrancesco says:

I always say that as well. Just about everything that can be done with a golf club has been used to win major championships. As an instructor I have “preferences”. Also, the videos are more like reporting on observations of what the best players do, not opinions about whether it’s good or bad. Obviously whatever the swing being analyzed is doing is working; otherwise it would be of no interest. There are very few things about which you can say “you can’t do that and be good”.

johngolfi says:

Another thing about Jack is that he dosen’t lower his head when he comes to impact. If you watch other videos of wayne, lowering the head is something that “almost” all good players dose. It seems that you can live without that…:)

as435943 says:

The key was his swing was same with every club. As even he has stated. Easier to repeat something if you do it every single time the same with whatever club you have in your hands.

Or be like the golfers of today. A diffrent swing with every club you hit. Is it any wonder one week they win the next they miss the cut.

Or be like Tiger and every year hire a new swing coach. I wonder if he could even play without one?

brad stecklein says:

Miller has the greatest round of golf played under his belt–period. Many believe he was the best iron striker of all time. Nicklaus is the greatest player of all time! that’s why there’s no comparison. and you want to bring Stallings into the argument? comical. Every successful instructor i’ve ever known or worked with taught footwork–including me. Ever heard of kinematic sequencing? playing golf from ground up? Walk away from this one–hopefully with proper footwork!

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