Some Other Pure Strikers

I first played golf in the late 1970’s but really appreciated the game in the 1980’s. I lost the interest in the game in the mid 1990’s and I’m trying to get back slowly into it again. I really have beaten to death the ABS Module 1 but I still have to send Lag a video. Its my New Year’s resolution to start playing some golf again and to hopefully finish the ABS course.

I lurked in this forum from the start but disappeared. I was happily surprised to see that it has grown tremendously over the past few months. The comments and contributions from the members are great and I especially enjoy the posts by Lag and Twomasters. I especially enjoy it when they reminisce and talk about golf when they were touring which I believe was through the 1980’s and 1990’s. I hope to start contributing a bit here on this forum, so my first thread is to discuss some of the better ball strikers that Lag and Twomasters have played with or seen during their touring days.

I was fortunate to have watched a few professional tournaments during that period and I will list a few of the players whom I thought were good strikers. I am not a swing expert like others here so my opinion may not be as valid. I am very curious though on Lag’s and Twomasters’ opinions as well as others. Please chime in.

Players I saw live in 1980’s who I admired their striking, in no particular order:

  1. Jodie Mudd- Could never figure out where the effortless power came. Mudd hit it really good and the swing was just gorgeous to watch.

  2. Gil Morgan- His contact always sounded pure. Seemed like he hit a draw every time.

  3. Andy Bean- in terms of massive sound maybe only Davis could compress it just as much.

  4. Tom Weiskopf- I walked 18 holes in Riviera and witnessed a 66 with Persimmons and Balata. On the par 5- 11th where they measure the yardage, he was out at 295.

  5. Jack Nicklaus- I don’t care what they say about the swing, Jack hit it pure in my eyes. He was just as good on the range as anyone and even better on the course.

  6. Gary Koch- this may get some comments, but whenever I watched Koch play he hit it great. I saw 17 greens one round in Riviera en route to a 66.

  7. Gary Hallberg- quite an effortless motion from a fairly skinny guy. Hallberg hit it nice, especially on the range!

  8. Tom Purtzer- don’t know if you would consider him a great ballstriker, but that swing was sure nice to see, and long too!

  9. Bill Glasson- Glasson had bad knees so had to use his upper body to hit the ball. Solid striker from what I remember.

  10. Davis Love- I remember watching him on his first season as a pro and wow! Probably still is one of the better ones out there now.

  11. Nick Faldo- 1985 before he started getting really funky with his swing. I thought he was one of the best.

  12. Donnie Hammond- I liked the way Donnie compressed it.

  13. Bob Tway- early pro Bob Tway when he used to bend over a ton at address.

That’s it for now. I’m sure others will come to mind and I hope to hear other comments out there.

Nick Faldo getting funky with his swing?

Pre leadbetter he was an average player, post led he was world #1 and won 6 majors. You think he would have been a better ball striker if he had stuck with the old swing?!!

You’re correct Styles I don’t think Faldo could have done it without Leadbetter. I am not a golf pro or insider as others may be but I have seen Faldo play live on several occasions and I personally feel that his 1980’s swing was better than his 1990’s swing. I think Faldo got into experimenting too much. He was my golf idol for a while and I closely trailed him in the 1992 US Open at Pebble. He was good but I found it strange how he would be working on his swing so much with Leadbetter during the practice rounds. He already had the winning technique in the 1980’s and I think he would have done more had he left it alone with just minor tune ups with Leadbetter. It always seem like he was overhauling something that didn’t need fixing.

Faldo had an early book called Golf the Winning Formula. His swing photos there in my opinion are much better than his latter books. The same goes with the early Golf Digest sequences versus the latter sequences. Early swing better in my opinion. I remember watching the 1989 Masters on TV and in the final round they had a perfect DTL camera view of Faldo on the 16th. Faldo hit it to around 15 feet there for a birdie I believe. I remember watching it and telling myself, I don’t think a person can swing a club better than that one swing right there.

So “funky” may be a wrong word but I sure think he and Lead overcooked his swing.

Of the players you mentioned I have played a lot with Andy Bean, Gary Hallberg, Tom Purtzer, Bill Glasson, Davis Love, Nick Faldo, Donnie Hammond and Bob Tway… Probably at least 6-10 rounds with each- some close to 30 rounds, so I have had a good up close look at these guys… They had some good stuff

Hallberg and Purtzer probably had the ‘prettiest’ swings of the group- but as we know pretty doesn’t always equate into efficient… great players who on their day were as good as anyone but something held them back. Gary was always very concerned about his swing- always-- and would stripe it and hit one bad shot and then concern himself about what he did wrong on that one shot for the rest of the day
Glasson was a great player at one point there and injuries pretty much held him back- I suggest metal woods hurt him also as he was ultra long early in his career
Bean was just a big strong bear who is probably one of the under rated players of golf going by the career he had- 11 wins and 15 runner-ups on the PGA Tour- three runner-ups in Majors…the guys hands were huge and pretty much swallowed the grip…once he got larger in size he lost his game a little but when he was big AND athletic he was up there with the better hitters for sure
Hammond and Tway were plodders making the most of their ability. They didn’t have any strengths except they had no real weakness- a very good way to survive and make money in golf- Tway was especially good from inside 100 yards
Love and Faldo obviously are the premier players of the group…Love ripped it and had the ‘sound’ when he struck the ball. If golf could have stayed in persimmon he may well have won 20 more events than than he has. I think when he was aggressive he played his best. When he got to steering shots he could get a few misses here and there that hurt his score.
Faldo was a plodder. His key was he didn’t make mistakes. He always hit the shot solid. He never made stupid mental mistakes that would take him out of the hole. He was aloof to play with in an event but pretty fun in a practice round. Two totally different people. Amazingly when he was #1 he couldn’t drive it much farther than his shadow. He pea shooted the ball from the tee with technicality and never overpowered anything except with his presence and his brain- but 6 majors!! can’t say he wasn’t doing something right- the man is huge and just looked like he would be good at whatever he put his mind to as he worked harder than just about anyone I saw except maybe VJ

I think I have in another thread my best hitters etc- will try find it and repost it here

Here is the list I posted somewhere else…hmmm that is a best fuzzy for some reason… had to snip and paste as it was in private forum area


Thanks for your insights. Its a demanding crowd here cause I always thought Tway hit it good whenever I saw him play!

I never had the opportunity to watch Greg Norman live in the 1980’s but watched him constantly on the tube. One of my favorite swings ever. It must have been awesome to watch live. I would like to know if you think Butch Harmon Greg Norman when he became world number one again was a better striker than 1980’s Norman? I’ve only watched Norman live once in the mid 1990’s when Price, Couples, and him were on top of the totem pole. I can’t base anything on the one round I saw. Norman played well but I wasn’t in awe of the strike as I thought I would be. He was in a round with Darren Clarke and Kyi Hla Han of Burma. I thought Kyi Hla hit it just as good, almost as long, and this from a guy who is probably about 5 ft 5 in.

I’ve also seen Corey Pavin in the 1980’s and have a different impression. Would you say ball striking and shot making are the same thing? Corey equals great shotmaker but good ball striker? The first time I saw him on the range I thought, “I could hit it better than this guy”.

Thanks for your inputs!

Great post. Really enjoyed reading Two’s comments and insight. The list of players are among my favorites. Growing up I always studied Jack and Faldo’s swing. I think Greg Norman could go down as the best driver of the golf ball ever.I don’t think anybody hit is as long and as straight as Greg ever. I saw him play live a few times right after he switched to the Cobra driver from his M43 Mac. At the Greater Hartford Open I watched him hit balls on the range for an hour, never hitting a drive off line. He was like Iron Byron. Another guy who played on the tour for a short time who was very long with persimmon was Clarence Rose. He certainly didn’t come close to making any ballstriking list, but I though he was pretty long. Of all the most amazing things I’ve seen one of them was watching Paul Azinger (prior to his treatments) hit his TM Burner driver off the deck (no tee) on the range, rope one after another off the turf without teeing it up.

I used to work with an instructor that used to teach Hallberg and had tons of video of his swing. Really pure looking.


When people talk about great ball strikers, the first thing I look for is “straight”. The second thing is rarely hitting a bad shot or space ball.
Length would be at the bottom of my list. If they can do the above and be long… then that is of course impressive.

I think Pavin was one of the best strikers I ever played with. I don’t think I ever say Pavin hit a really bad shot. Not every shot perfect, but his misses where always in the right place, with an uphill chip, or away from trouble. His ability to work the ball both ways was top shelf. Sometimes he would miss a green because he couldn’t reach the green. But he would play the shot short left or right which have him an easy pitch for par. His 4 wood was more accurate than most guys with a 6 iron. Had the persimmon age lasted another 10 years, I think he would have won 4 or 5 majors. He was a perfect US Open player. I think he could have won at Augusta also. I think he was right there one year, but hit one in the water on 16. That is probably the worst shot I can think of him hitting, but under those circumstances, that might be the time it would happen.

Tway reminded me too much of my own early days using a TGM game, really pure but then would spray the ball sideways out of nowhere. Too much timing with the dumpy pivot stall release thing.

Both Hallberg and Jodie Mudd, were similar in that they had very timing based releases, which is fine if you have the time to “time” it.

When you are playing everyday, you can make a lot of things work…

I was always much more impressed by the guys who didn’t have to practice, or would even make a point not to. Even the guys who could party all night and walk out to the tee with blurry eyes and still beat you like a drum… that was much more impressive to me than the guys who pounded 500 balls a day on the range. Guy Boros won the Order Of Merit on the Canadian Tour one year and I don’t think he missed “A last Call” bar bell the whole summer.

Ian Woosnam I remember came on late to an event in Australia, literally got off the plane from a 20 hour flight, took a cab directly to the course and just flushed the ball off the tee. That’s the stuff I like.

If you truly know how to do it… I believe that’s how golf should feel. EASY, even under adversity. Proper technique void of a lot of timing elements can make that possible. … to really own your swing.

Nice points Lag. I always liked Pavin’s style of game but just never felt like he really compressed a ball like other players did. However you guys are the experts so if he’s good then I’ll take your word for it.

You talk of Ian Woosnam. I have seen him in action twice, the first at the 1992 US Open where he played quite well, and yes he was just a complete ripper of the golf ball. Impact was something else. I trailed him several holes in a practice round but one shot still stuck in my head. Pebble #12 Par 3 was listed I remember at 215-220 yards. Woosie pulled out a 4-iron and just flat ripped it at the flag and stuck it to around five feet. The shot was so good he turned to his caddie and said I’m gonna reward myself with a cigarette!

On another occasion, I saw Woosnam in an exhibition match. He was a complete wreck. He had come off from a long night of heavy boozing and had to call it quits after nine holes. Classic!

Woosie was good on and off the course!!
I remember saving him from some people that were driving him nuts at a English bar in Florida once…I took him out dancing…the little fella sobered up real quick and had some pretty good moves on the floor!
Also popped a few with him a couple of night’s (he had many more than I did in each session) which didn’t bother him as he went on to win the Scottish Open at Carnoustie…straight from course to hotel 19th hole each day!
Gotta love him

The personal experience that really turned on a lot of light bulbs for me was going to the AT&T at Pebble in 1993. I drove down for the day and as soon as I got a program I saw that DLIII was playing Pebble and Faldo was in the group in front. I caught up with Love on 4 and he was having a really bad day. 3 putted 5, didn’t get up and down from 30 yards short on 6, buried it in the front bunker on 7, so I decided to catch up to Faldo. Besides I couldn’t stand watching Mike Hulbert putt with just his right hand on the club and miss everything outside a foot.

It was really hot that week, one of those weird weeks on the coast in Feb where what little wind there was came in from the North and it was as hot as it could get in Monterey, like in the mid 80’s with a lot of humidity. I felt stupid even having a sweater with me tied around my waist.

I caught up to Faldo as he was hiiting a wedge 3rd into 9 from high up in the left rough about 80 yards short of the green. I guess he hit his drive right bad and could only blow his second back through the fairway. Knocks it over the bunker 12 feet and makes it, great 4. More routine par on 10 and a nice up and down from the front right bunker on 11. On 12 I got as close as I could to the tee, close enough to hear that he and Fanny settled on a 3 iron, cut bullet that lands real soft and finishes 4 ft left, which he missed. Playing with Nick was Rocco Mediate and the contrast between the two players was stunning. Physically it was like two different species. Faldo was ripped everywhere, huge guy to begin with who was literally in Marathon Shape. Perfectly Coiffed and dressed in custom made Pringle Pima Cotton and Alligator Exotics like a Movie Star. The look in his eyes was of total command of everything around him, total focus in the midst of the craziness which is The Pro-Am. Rocco looked like a schlub. Covered in sweat, wearing a long sleeve flannel Izod Club Golf Shirt that wasn’t pressed, didn’t fit right and was soaked through. 30 pounds overweight, huffing and puffing and distracted by the crowds and Huey Lewis. The differences in their golf shots were just as pronounced.

Faldo could cut it at will but his stock shot was a low block draw that hit the pin on 13 and 16. I got as close as anyone to a few tee shots and his swing was like a piston engine. On 14 tee, the long par 5 I could hear two distinct sounds, first was his right elbow slamming into his side and then was the sizzle of the ball shooting away. I wouldn’t be surprised if he cracked a couple of ribs along the way with that move. Remarkable to see. Rocco was everywhere in his swing and with his shots. Left and right, no perceivable regulation of flight and everything was disconnected. Like watching Yo Yo Ma next to a kid with a couple years of lessons. I think Rocco is a terrific guy and I know he has fought his body breaking down for his entire career, but look at the skillsets. Faldo was No 2 in the world and really did it the right way. He was an absolute mess on the greens, but everything else was as good as anyone has ever seen. For someone as big and strong as him to purposely hit it so short is different, but length to him was an obstacle. He TOTALLY broke the game down into his own terms and style and was an all time great.

What I took away from the experience was number one the importance of physical conditioning in playing the game at a high level. It takes a lot of strength to impose will onto a golf ball. And the mind can’t worry about the body catching it’s breath and take in all the information neccasary to create consistently great proper shots. And at the same time shut out and disregard the frivolous garbage going on all around. It takes every bit of strength and harmony attainable in the body and mind to play good golf in the middle of a frigging circus. All of it has to be there, technical skill, knowledge of the course and environment, expectation of self and the ability to focus in the storm.

Jimmy ‘Fairway’ Furyk

Compressing the ball in the way I like is not about how far you hit it… but striking it with a controlled acceleration.

I can accelerate a chip shot with a firm short but firm little strike at it… great say for out of the rough… so the grass just has no chance of affecting the outcome much.

So while Pavin didn’t generate a lot of velocity, he did generate a lot of acceleration… that is how we was able to control the golf ball so well. My Freshman year in college, he won 7 collegiate events, and was the NCAA collegiate player of the year.

He was as accurate with a 4 wood as most players were with a 6 iron. He played with tremendous feel, and this feel was generated by his ability to accelerate the golf club through the impact arena. To this day I have never seen a player work the ball around the course, shaping shots and positioning the golf ball with such precision as Pavin did. He hit his driver 225 yards off the tee and would shoot 66. It’s sad to see that style of golf kicked to the curb with the bomb and gouge game, and a low spin ball that is far inferior to the balatas of the past that does not allow a player the ability to shape the golf ball properly.

I am quite sure that at some point the game will recover from the silliness that goes on today… but it might be a while.
It’s interesting to watch the hickory movement starting to take off, 80 years later. Proof of reincarnation maybe? :wink:

Persimmons will be ruling the game down in Vegas this week with the TRGA event. I’m there…

what out for those VIP Hostesses ! :open_mouth: :unamused: