In the celebrity golf circuit, it seems as if hockey players are the ones shooting some of the lowest scores. Check out the photographs below of the Detroit Red Wings' Brett Hull, a 600-goal scorer and future NHL Hall of Famer, and it's easy to see why.
The pivoting and bracing in a good slap shot -- and Brett's is one of the best ever -- are similar to what a good golf swing requires. Add his athleticism and flexibility (and a killer competitive streak) and you get 300-yard drives and a near-scratch handicap. When Brett joined Royal Oaks Country Club in Dallas, we didn't have to do much work on his swing -- he already could go low. His swing is PGA Tour-caliber -- not bad for a guy who can't practice much and takes serious punishment on the ice eight months of the year. When he retires from hockey, look out -- and keep your wallet in your pocket.
On the back of his hockey card, Brett is listed at 5-feet-11 and 203 pounds -- a frame that's hard to push around on the ice. He's stocky and strong, with a barrel chest and legs thicker than my body. But as muscular as he is, he is still incredibly flexible. Check out his shoulder position in the third frame of the top row of photos. To be able to get his shoulders turned like that without moving his head or manipulating his arms to get around his thick chest is an impressive accomplishment.
His thick build keeps Brett from getting wide on the downswing the way Tiger Woods and Karrie Webb do. Instead, he generates power with lag and arms of steel. Even past impact, his arms and chest form a perfect triangle. Few players are strong enough to keep that triangle in place so late in the swing.
I was surprised just how similar the golf swing is to a slap shot. I always thought the slap shot was a more around-the-body move (hey, we didn't have hockey in Texas when I was growing up). The tops of the two swings look a lot alike -- a full coil, with the chin up to let the left shoulder turn under.
In both swings, the key to generating power is the braced left leg at impact. In the hockey swing, Brett even angles his skate to dig in and brace himself.
The same qualities that make his slap shot so good -- Red Wing Associate Head Coach Dave Lewis says Brett's is one of the quickest and most accurate in the history of the game -- make his golf swing good as well. Put his head onto the computer video screen and track it -- there's no excess head movement at all. At the finish, he's fully released (see his name on the back of his jersey?) and balanced. His swing has as much grace as it does power. Just don't tell his hockey buddies I said that.