Low Shear vs. High Shear Coil

TJ Tomasi

by TJ Tomasi College of Golf Senior Faculty and Director of Research

If you use the modern coil in your golf swing, will you still be playing ‘good golf’ when you’re 76? Note, I said ‘good golf,’ not good golf for 76!

Recently in an Els for Autism Pro-Am Golf Tournament, 76-year-old Jack Nicklaus bettered his age by six strokes, shooting a 71. That was just after a young tour player named Daniel Berger learned that Tiger Woods might return to the tour and tweeted ‘Anyone else pumped to see the greatest of all time tee it up? I know I am.’ Gary Player tweeted in reply: ‘I did not know that Jack Nicklaus was playing this week.’

Of course one of the amazing things Nicklaus did was to win the Masters on a very long and difficult course at age 46, an age when most have lost too much distance via injury and/or natural aging to be a factor. Even though he had a serious left hip injury, Jack’s longevity was in part due to the type of swing [low shear coil] that allowed him to generate max power while limiting damage to his body.

Today, the tour trailer is filled with exercisers packing on muscle, but Nicklaus, by comparison, never did much choreographed exercise – one thing he didn’t do was lift weights like Tiger and many modern players. There were very few players of Jack Nicklaus’s day or earlier who lifted (Gary Player and old timer Frank Stranahan were exceptions); however, Nicklaus, who was early-on overweight, later slimmed down by staying active swimming, hunting, playing tennis and giving up his beloved ice cream.

In the modern power coil, with the front side resisting, there is no relaxation of torsion, putting a huge strain on the joints, ligaments and muscles, especially in the lower back. Then, when you add layers of powerfully contracting muscles honed in the weight room, over-extended practice sessions and weekly travel locked in airplanes – something is going to give.

Thus, it is my belief that players with long flowing swings last the longest if they have the will to – e.g. Player, Snead, Nicklaus, Boros, Tom Watson – because the constant trauma of passing energy from the ground up through the body and into the ball is much less when the body has a safety valve (release the lead heel/maximum knee cant) and the flow occurs over a longer time frame. Short, tightly twisting swings with minimum knee cant and a planted lead heel don’t last, because age and repetition of motion invites injuries.