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The genius of John Jacobs

February 16, 2011

In the March issue of Golf Digest, currently on the newsstands (white cover with Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell), there is an insightful article by John Jacobs, the legendary British player and teacher. It's written with Jaime Diaz, Golf Digest Senior Writer, and it contains nugget after nugget of sage instructional advice. Every page contains several revelations from the 86-year-old grand master of instruction that show why many of the game's great players owe so much to him. A two-time Ryder Cup captain, Jacobs was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2000.

Here I give you just five of those chestnuts, from the man Butch Harmon, David Leadbetter, Hank Haney and Jim Hardy credit with shaping their teaching and knowledge of the swing more than any other individual.

*Roger Schiffman

Managing Editor

Golf Digest*

In my first book, Golf by John Jacobs, I remember that the first thing I wrote down on paper was, "Golf is what the ball does." That was my breakthrough as a teacher. I look at what the ball's doing, and then I ask, "Why?"

The danger with golfers taking lessons is, whenever they try something new, their first instinct is to tighten up, and that starts with the grip. As Peter Thomson used to say, "Always grip lightly because you'll instinctively firm up at impact anyway."

If you're a top-level competitive golfer, nobody knows your golf better than you do. Only you know what's in your mind. You can hit a shot and say, "That's no good, but I reckon I can get through the round that way." And that's so key to being able to compete.

Jack Nicklaus was not an exceptional striker in that his shots were not pure in the absolute sense. But his swing was very repeatable when it came to controlling a slightly open face at impact, and I can't recall him ever flipping the club over. He didn't really have a danger shot, which was mostly due to his huge mental strength.

Many players never start in an address position that makes a windup back and through possible. If you set up right, it's all done; you don't need any more thoughts. Leave the rest to the good Lord.

You'll find many more great thoughts from John Jacobs in the March issue of Golf Digest. Also, check out the OnDemand video by Jacobs (click here to watch a video excerpt) Enjoy and learn from this. Tell me what you think, and remember to follow me on Twitter @RogerSchiffman.

(Photo: Golf Digest Resource Center)