Lee Trevino's Groove Your Swing My Way

“To Ben Hogan, a great golfer who unknowingly influenced me to consistently fade the ball.” Lee Trevino

I recently read Lee’s book and found it to be a very amazing, insightful and fascinating read. It was not surprising to find that Lee was a very deep thinker about the golf swing, and the game. As much as his public persona often seemed the opposite, and the public often painted him as an oddity with a home spun move that somehow just seemed to repeat, I can assure you than Lee knew exactly what he was doing.

Here are my thoughts, and how what Lee says relates to us here at ABS.


Nicklaus, Jones, Hogan, and myself all succeeded at golf because we all found a way to control our bad shots.
For the average player, that means teeing it up on Sat morning, after a week or so away from the course and maybe a few drinks on Friday night, and still having a pretty good idea where each shot is going to finish.

This is really some fabulous advice, and a lesson I learned out on tour rather quickly. There are always players who could hit stellar shots that seemed just loaded with talent and ability, but the guys that often did better were the ones that just didn’t hit really bad shots. I saw a lot of money won by playing very unimpressive golf… and I mean this in that some of these guys were not long, didn’t hit every shot flush, but would simply never get the ball too far off line and never out of play.

Trevino on Hogan:

I remember watching Hogan and how he moved his hips and legs. I got a clear impression that he controlled his shots with his lower body.

I’ve worked with a few of the ABS Tour Pros, and suggested to them to use our module #2 to feel and gauge their distances by feeling the force of the shot by the amount of pressure applied in their module #2 protocol.

I worked and worked to find a way to control the ball with my body, instead of my hands and wrists.

These would certainly be the words of a player seeking a pivot driven golf swing. Pivot controlled hands is what the greats did, not the other way around.
In this book, I’m going to tell you how to make four things happen to your clubhead through impact.

  1. I’ll show you how to keep it on the target line a little bit longer, before it starts back around your body.[/i]

This surely hints to a pivot driven swing with an no roll or angled hinge

2. I’ll show you how to keep the clubface looking in the right direction a bit longer before it turns back and to the left

This comment will suggest to us not to drive the right arm too soon, which shuts down the clubface prematurely, and that the club is going to be turning back to the left.

3. I’ll show you how to keep the clubhead moving at ball level longer

This reminded me of what Moe used to tell me about taking bacon strip divots and not pork chops divots.

4. I’ll show you how to control your clubhead’s speed to make your shots travel the right distance

This of course is how great strikers think. Hitting the ball the right distance is just as important and hitting it straight.
Lee will be talking about acceleration regarding this issue.

[i]The longer you keep your clubhead online, and at ball level, with the clubface looking the right direction, the better your chances of making solid contact. You reduce your chance of error. You reduce the need to make a perfectly timed swing on every shot, and this is particularly important if you don’t have the time to fine tune your game by playing and practicing every day.

I’m also going to show you how to get more acceleration, and I stress the need for this, and I am going to show you how to get some good out of the big muscles in your legs. Now for all these things to happen, you’ll need to make some changes.[/i]

Like Hogan, Lee quickly talks about the importance of acceleration, and this of course is at the heart of what we are striving for at ABS… and of course the importance of great leg work also.


[i]The thing about golf that makes the pendulum swing impossible is that you are always standing on the side of the ball. This makes the clubhead swing off the flightpath on the backswing because it must swing AROUND your body. The club then moves off the flight path again after impact on your follow through. The clubhead is moving along your flight path for a very brief instant. Even a good golfer only moves the club down the flight path just a few inches.

Now my clubhead moves maybe just an inch or two longer down the flight path, but that makes a tremendous difference.
It also means I don’t have to be quite so perfect about where I play the ball in my stance. I don’t need to make a perfect swing because I have increased my margin against making an error[/i]

This has all the markings of a rotary golf swing, flat entry and exits, and points to the advantages of hitting over swinging, as a swinger is much more tied to precision ball placement.

Trevino gets into talking about swinging on multiple rims, as he describes two dimensional footballs cut in half arcs to show clubhead path protocols.

I like to swing along one rim on the way back, then drop the club onto a LOWER PLANE rim on the downswing. This makes the clubhead approach the ball slightly inside the original. The main advantage of this is that it insures that we don’t come down looping to the outside rim. It’s far safer to try for the inside rim on all normal shots.

Another advantage of the inside rim is that it moves the clubhead into a shallower angle of attack. It makes the clubhead approach the ball more like an airplane coming in for landing rather than nose diving in for a crash. The shallow attack sends the force forward not downward, which would cost you distance with the longer clubs.

Again Lee acknowledging the inside quadrant or 4:30 on the ball, and the bacon strip divot idea of a shallow entry for more consistent strikes, and maximizing the efficiency of energy transfer.

I like to line up 30 to 40 degrees left of target. About one half a quarter of a turn. You are going to have to set up more or less the way I do if you want that clubhead moving down the line that extra inch or two. I take the club back square to my body which is aligned left, then I drop the club to the inside and swing down the target line. I like the inside rim to come down because it’s easier to control, because you can’t overloop to the inside rim as much as you can overloop to the outside rim because your body gets in the way of your arms, your body simply resists too much inward looping.

There certainly is some great logic going on here. Everything is working towards shallow and a very deep 4:30 line, and the idea of looping from out to in with the body always limiting that possibility by getting in the way makes great sense.

I slide laterally to the left so the clubhead doesn’t have the chance to move to the outside rim. A lateral slide forces the club to drop into a slot behind me, and this slot is what starts the club back to the ball on the inside rim. As you slide your hips, they will also be turning left. This is a natural reaction to the fact we have turned them back. The problem is that this can get them turning too much because the weight move to the left heel and not out to the ball of the left foot, creating more spin than slide. Most golfers need more sliding than turning.

Trevino was clearly very aware of his foot action, and how he was moving pressures around in his feet. He clearly warns against turning the hips too soon to the left. Hogan also initiated a slide left to delay the opening up of the hips. This is a very advanced move… but when done efficiently can be very effective in saving pivot rotation to create greater post impact pivot thrust.

I am all for people making a full backswing turn, and I can make as much backswing turn as anyone else.

Lee is talking here about making a full shoulder rotation… Lee also had a fairly short backswing as far as his actual hand travel, but the key is that the turn is there, so that when the torso rotates back it can then load into the arms. We see this same protocol with Hogan.

Lee regarding the Legs…

Our legs are the strongest part of our body. It’s really just a matter of learning to use the strength we’ve already got. It’s a matter of training our bodies to do something in the golf swing most people haven’t learned how to do. If you swing in your livingroom, do so until it becomes natural for you to shift your weight from your right foot to the outside ball of your left foot.

Lee used this foot pressure protocol to create stability in the lower body create opposing ground forces.

You must not be in a hurry to get the clubhead back to the ball by rushing your backswing or starting down with your shoulders. Take it slow so that your legs and hips have time to lead your downswing.

This is right at the core of what we are working with in our module #6 work, and what Hogan would refer to as “The Free Ride down”.

I do let my left arm move off my body after impact, but that doesn’t mean I let it come loose at the shoulder.

This arm action of Trevino’s is one of the really unique things about his golf swing. What he is doing here is much different than the TGM version of the arms flying passively off the body. Lee is saying here that he is driving the left arm off the body actively not from a relaxed shoulder joint. If you look at Lee’s swing, he moved through the ball with very steep shoulders. Lee was able to move the left arm forcefully in a way that also enabled him to keep his right arm bent much longer than most, therefore inhibiting the right arm shutting down the clubface and turning it over to the left. I suppose this is why Lee was not an extremely long hitter. Smaller guys like Ian Woosnam would turn their torso’s flat creating more velocity… but with Lee’s 30 degree left alignment, I can understand why he would go that route, and utilize this unique extra post impact power source. Lee would actively drive the left arm first, then tear it around left from there with still a very strong post impact pivot.

Lee describes this action of his:

One of the most important factors in golf is that you have got to feel you are acceleration the club, even on a two foot putt.

You will never be a consistent accurate striker if you are trying to hit the ball straight on every shot. I know for many this makes as much sense as walking backwards, but it’s not a problem curving the ball if you know which way it is going to curve before you play the shot. Ask Palmer, Nicklaus, Hogan, Player, Miller, or anyone else who has won a US Open, the last thing these guys are doing outside 175 yards is trying to hit a straight shot. Now to hit a drive with no side spin, you will have to have the clubhead moving at the target, and the face looking in exactly the same direction. If you can do that everytime at over 100 mph, you don’t need this book, and you just need a dime to call me collect so I can sponsor you on the PGA Tour.

We again see similar course management ideals with Hogan and may others… as we can simply double our margin of error if we can eliminate one side of the fairway off the tee… or one side of trouble working the ball into a green.

We can however, take a straighter aim at our target from shorter distances, because the increased spin rate from the lofted clubs can have an overpowering effect upon the amount of side spin imparted upon the ball.

It is this feeling of resistance to the closing of the clubface that you should feel in your left arm and hand when you actually swing the club. It’s this feeling of resistance that tells you that you are keeping your clubface looking at the target a bit longer through the impact area.

This I would describe as the orbit pull sensation that we work on here at ABS in our Module #3 and #4. The resistance in holding wrist cock thought impact is exactly what Lee is talking about here holding off release.

It is important that we have wrist action in the golf swing. The wrists are forced to react to the momentum and weight of the golf club, therefore it is impossible to avoid some bending and unbending of the wrists.

This is the evidence of active hands.

Most golfers have too much wrist action in the wrong way at the wrong time.

This is why we work very hard on our hand protocols throughout our module work so that they know what to do in the right way and at the right time.

I didn’t win a tournament until I learned to quiet my hands under pressure. Learning left hand pressure helps us minimize excessive manipulation of the clubface through impact. Too much right hand dominance or better yet, too little left hand control is a major reason why golfers find it so difficult to put the clubface solidly upon the golf ball with any real consistency.

This is what we are learning in our module #5 work. How to develop our proper hand attitudes… and also why we do so many independent hand exercises. I think Lee is really promoting a balance of both strength and control with each hand.

Th[i]e second element to keep from becoming too wristy is foward acceleration.

To stop the hand from breaking down at impact, the hands must win the race to the ball. The arms cannot come to a stop before you hit the ball. Acceleration aids left hand control. If you can learn to accelerate from your left arm, hips, and legs, as you swing into the ball, you leave yourself very little chance to overuse your hands and wrists.[/i]

This is also why we grind so hard on our module #3, because to take this concept just a step further, our arms are clearly attached to our torso, so to create good post impact pivot thrust insures us that we can win the race, and not flip the club through impact losing pressure impact dynamics. Just like Lee says here… if we accelerate the pivot, then we can really use all the hands we want through impact, and not worry about breaking down.

More to come…


Great explanation Lag…great interpretation of the goals behind what Trevino built his swing around in his own words

Lag - I was waiting for this analysis and (as always) you did not disappoint. I watched Trevino win in New Orleans in 1974 (by 8 shots) in what he called his greatest ball-striking performance of his career (2 fairways missed & 3 greens).The best display of shotmaking I’ve ever witnessed - by far. I can now see what you mean by using ground pressures effectively in a pivot driven action. I actually heard George Knudson explain this to a young pro on the practice tee. He told the guy he was always trying to “feel” the transfer from his right heel to the ball of the left foot. This ties into your mentioning that Hogan and Trevino “delayed” their downswing pivot to help achieve post impact thrust. Knudson obviously did this as well. Trevino did do something I thought was curious - he had a very convex left wrist position at the top (Calvin Peete - another great pivot driven ball striker - also did this). This probably does not have anything to do with this topic but I thought I would mention it. I once asked instructor Carl Lohren (knowing that he had seen a lot of Trevino and Hogan) whom he thought was the better ball-striker. Carl - without hesitation - answered that it was Trevino. Look forward to future installments of your Trevino “Groove Your Swing My Way” analysis.

Great stuff Lag, I am reading this book at the moment and your commentary makes it all the more illuminating.

Many Thanks,


Great stuff Lag, thanks very much… I gotta get this book…

I have just finished reading this book and have been struck by some fascinating insights some of which have been discussed by Lag in his opening post.

Trevino advocates a shallow approach that keeps the clubhead accelerating on the ball/target line and the clubface looking down that line for as long as possible. He achieves this by aiming his stance and clubface left, taking the club back outside, then dropping it inside by means of a lateral slide then a shallow strike after the club drops into the slot.

He describes classical teaching as requiring the club to describe a rim or near semicircle to get back to the ball while he describes his swing as more of along a ‘straight edge’ which allows him to keep the club travelling and looking at the correct path longer while remaining at ball level longer.

Lag’s module 5/6 hand attitude work is certainly compatible and indeed would lend itself to his methodology however, instead of attacking the ball from a deep inside 430 line to the ball, he advocates a more direct attack but less from the inside claiming that this shallow and direct approach allows him to keep the clubface on line longer while maximising the possibility of a clean strike.

In other words, he may well have dropped the club into a 430 line in relation to where he started at address but its more like a 3.30 approach line to the ball once the club has dropped into the slot because of his starting position being rotated one hour to the left.

Hope some of this makes sense, would be interested to hear what you guys think of Trevino’s methodology. Certainly, I found his idea of putting oneself on ‘the horns of disaster’ by aiming the clubface and stance left and then by necessity having to drop it inside to a shallow but more direct ball target approach to be very interesting. I know he was regarded as a very reliable ball striker and therefore his methodology must have significant merit.

Where the body is in relation to the ball is critical. Trevino’s way left alignment required him to find a very deep 4:30 line relative to his body - ball relationship. If you study Lee, you will see he didn’t play the ball way forward in his stance, rather it was more centered to allow lowpoint then to be found in relation to his target line and not his body.

I consider it a very wonderful and very sophisticated way of striking a golf ball.

Although his stock shot was a fade, he could do whatever he wanted to with the golf ball.

Where did you guys find a copy of this book? I just looked on amazon and every copy is at least 60 bucks. Is there anywhere to find one for cheaper?



I got a paper back in “good” condition from Amazon several months ago. Can’t remember the price, but it wan’t outrageous like 60 bucks.

Found mine in an old bookstore. they practically give books away at times in those places as most people are after pysch or travel books or novels.
I paid the princely sum of $1.95… it’s hard to be patient but good things can come to those who wait sometimes
Myself and Lag went book shop cruising one day in San Fran and found a few golf book goodies that weren’t much more than $5 -$8
Find the smallest, dirtiest most overhanging off the racks book shop and you will dig out some golf gold that is tucked away and forgotten behind the dust


Interesting, but in 2-D, you need a few reference points to make this understandable.


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Thanks for the clarification.

Was it a rare pressing?
Never seen Five Lessons going for anything like that… or the Yellow Book.

I’ll sell my copy for $700!

I guess they are all 1st edition. Someone mentioned they have the papeback, but I cant seem to find any of those.
It wasn’t long ago that you guys were saying it was going for a crazy $60!Never heard of the Yellow Book. Author?

If you position left … and slightly hold off the release to push it right…… is it more difficult/risky with the short irons?

I’ve had success doing this with driver and 2 iron but some awful shots with 9i/PW.

There is no hold off of the release…that’s everything he’s got loaded. The way you are leveraged is a lot of it, but you gotta have a lateral hip slide too. His biomechanics really forced his hand…in his book he talks about it. He kind of gives it all away to be honest…Trevino gave it all away to anyone willing to work for it.

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So I read this book a while ago and inside it that lag didn’t mention was how he worked the ball both ways with the same swing.

What he did first was groove his stock fade with his swing and then if he needed to draw the ball, he just had the club face aimed less right of his leftward stance line at setup and make the exact same swing and presto, it would draw.

The genius part is because he had grooved such an anti-left release hitting his fade where the club face wouldn’t close prematurely, he never had to worry about the ball hooking on him when he hit draws because of his release, just had to make sure the club face was turned-in the proper amount at address.