Sam Snead has left the golfing world with a lot of wonderful quotes as he broke the swing and its mechanics down using his wonderful "simplistic" rhetoric.
The following short article from a transcript covers a discussion Snead had with a group of USPGA members in 1947.
Vic Ghezzi just asked me: "What are you going to talk about?" I says, "How I play golf," and I added, "I can sum that up in four words-damned if I know."
Well to get started off, I try to get relaxed. I don`t think anybody can play very tense and tight,- which I have become on several occasions.
When I first started playing golf, I had to use a three wood to get off the ground. It took me a while before I graduated. I had a bad grip, and at the time I had a boss and I tried to get a few lessons, and he said " you know you are a professional; you should know what to do."
Therefore, I had to struggle and develop some sort of grip myself.
After I ran all the squirrels out from one side of the fairway to the other, I drove them back to the other side.
But I found in having a closed face top on my backswing I had to let my left elbow come up. Naturally, doing that, I cut down my power. I was just one of your dubs. But I found, after putting my hands on the club, then breaking my hands in front of me and returning to the club, it was square.
I tried this new grip down in the palm of the hands with the thumb straight down. In doing that I don`t have much cock of the wrist; I can`t use it much. Now if I put that a little more in the fingers then I have more leverage; it can work easier and I can get a little more club head speed.
Early Snead swing combined with a film of the grip he developed
I developed a little kick with my foot, and I don`t see many doing that. It is true you take two men of the same stature, the same age and weight, both six feet tall-one can jump six feet and the other only four. Well, that`s nothing but nature.
After I thought I had developed a fairly good grip I tried letting the swing work more or less naturally.
Now, my hands look high to some people. Well, my arms are longer than the average person's. I wear the same sleeve length as a man who is 6 feet one. Well, I am about 5 feet ten and a half, so that accounts for a little more leverage.
I try to take advantage of my back muscles being more supple than some fellows. It depends on how much you can turn.
As far as telling you how I play golf, I try what I think in the simplist way. In other words, I try to get my machine in order where I don`t have to think about it on the course, and I keep relaxed. I think a good many players probably change their mannerisms, and then become excited and stop concentrating.
I saw that happen in the PGA. I was three down on the 26th hole. Well, I was looking for a break and it finally came along and I was playing a square match. Then on the tenth tee, I saw a change in mannerism from my opponent. Well, I knew then that if I kept on pretty good- I would have him. His whole swing changed to the extent he wasn`t confident or didn`t know what he was actually trying to do, and therefore, he broke his concentration, and I was fortunate enough to win.
If anybody has any questions I`ll try to make this thing as short as possible.
What golfer did you copy a little bit, Sam? Or what golfer influenced you more than the other?
Well, actually Horton, being back there in the hills, there weren`t many people to look at, to actually copy. Of course, being a youngster with four brothers, I more or less tried to copy the oldest one. He had what you might call a natural swing. If there is such a thing as a "natural swing." He had a lot of ability in sports and I think he could do anything better than anyone else.
I started off with an overhanded grip or cross-hand, and of course, he gave me a few kicks in the pants, and he said" If I see you do that again you will get the big end of this club." I changed over. Then I was hitting acorns and walnuts. But I more or less copied my swing from him or tried to.
In my practice I had no one to straighten me up or tell me; it was more or less an individual swing., and actually I didn`t have any lessons or so-called "tips" until I went on the winter tour. That was in 1937 when I finished sixth in the L.A.Open and was fortunate enough to win the Oakland Open.
From then on some of the boys came around and said, "if you`ll do a little more this and a little less that, you`ll get on better."
I said, "well, damned if I know what that is. I know what I am doing now and I am going to stick to it for a little while."
And I do believe a lot of guys try to get a swing that is mechanical and it isn`t quite suited to their build. I think everybody looks a little different in swinging a golf club. At the same time, I believe they could simplify trying to make it a little more suited to themselves, instead of letting those people tell them what suits them. I know in teaching I don`t teach people to hit like I do, because they can`t turn as much and they can`t put their hands as high. We try to give them some sort of swing that will suit the individual.
Head professional at Ridgewood Country Club in Paramus, New Jersey, for over 50 years. Teacher of Byron Nelson. Inducted into the PGA hall of fame in 2005
Sam, have you a certain pattern that you worked on?
Well, George, I don`t think my swing has changed over the years. Of course, like everybody, I am getting a little heavier,-which we do sometimes, and probably age takes care of that. I might change a degree, but I don`t think my swing has changed any since 1937.
Do you have some pictures in your mind when you start what you work on?
Well. I believe every golfer sort of feels he changes his swing from time to time. Some days my muscles don`t react, I don`t feel quite as loose as the day before, and when I go to the practice tee I feel that I`m fading that particular day; so if I am putting the ball a little to the left or to the right. The other I feel I am going to hook a little. So I go by the way I feel on a particular day. Then I can put my mind to what I am doing to get the ball from where it lies to where I want it.
Sam, you were going to say something more about your footwork or getting more power.
Well, Joe, getting power from your feet, I try to take advantage of using all of my muscles.
Craig Wood -right foot pedestal-Click on the image to expand.