Hall of Famer: These are my 4 good ball striking keys that I still use
For most of the 1990s, Nick Price’s golf swing was the textbook. Golf swing nerds from the era will remember it fondly.
Starting in 1982, Nick Price underwent a swing transformation under the tutelage of legendary teacher David Leadbetter, just as his fellow Nick (Faldo) would do later that decade. Price describes his swing as “all over the place” before, with a shut clubface throughout the backswing, and a big steep-to-shallow loop that leaned heavily on timing.
When he hit his peak in the early 90s, Price’s re-tooled move had become the prototypical swing to suit the era, and it helped him become perhaps the best all-around driver of his generation. From 1991 to 1999 Price won two majors, and went 10 consecutive seasons inside the top 10 in Total Driving — the tour’s stat measuring both driving distance and accuracy — finishing inside the top two four times.
Hitting drivers on the range was what Price was doing when I caught up with him in December. He was the last player to leave the range at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club in Orlando, late in the evening before the first round of the PNC Championship.
“It used to be good,” the 65 year-old Price said bashfully about his own swing.
Humble as ever, I asked him what golfers can learn from his move, then and now…
1. Repetition is more important than appearance
“A lot of golfers have an image of the swing that they want to be in their mind, but repetition is the thing that you really want in a golf swing. And it doesn't matter what that looks like. Look at Jim Furyk and Lee Trevino. They’ve got different ways of getting from A to B to C, but they deliver the club with a square face into impact, every time. That’s what golfers should strive for.”
2. Drop your foot back for more power
“You can see me talking about the importance of a full shoulder turn [in this old Golf Digest article]. It’s something I still firmly believe in. The problem is I don’t play as actively as I used to, and I’m not as supple as I was. I’ve started dropping my trail foot back more, so my stance is closed, at setup. That pre-cocks my hips so I can get more turn, and helps me deliver the club a little bit from the inside which is natural for me. It’s something a lot of the older guys do."
3. Coordinate your upper and lower body
“When I was playing my very best, one thing I tried to do was coordinate my lower half with my upper half on the downswing. I wanted my upper and lower body to move together in unison, and my chest stayed on top of the ball. In reality I know that my hips face the target more at impact, but I never wanted one to outpace the other too much. When your hips spin out too much, all sorts of bad things can happen. It happens a lot nowadays as players try to get so much out of their driver. My generation was more about control.”
4. Start smooth, then snap at impact
“I’ve always had a quicker tempo than most. It’s perhaps the first thing people notice about my swing, but it always felt natural to me. I talk fast, I walk fast. I’ve always had a quicker tempo than most, but it felt natural to me. You can't ever change your own pace. That’s the real secret, I think. To know your tendency. If you’re a slow swinger, stay slow. Don’t try to pick up the tempo, because when you get under the gun, you’re going to revert back to your natural tempo. I never tried to slow down. The only thing I wanted to do was keep my takeaway smooth. If I could do that, then the rest was easy. Start smooth, then snap."