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Rare photos reveal Payne Stewart’s famous golf swing like you’ve never seen it before | instructions

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At the risk of sounding too much like a company guy, there’s a lot of cool stuff lurking around Golf Summary Archive. I find myself wandering through it routinely, and every time I do, I come across something more interesting than the last time I was there.

(If you don’t believe me, you can be your own judge and check out Full archive yourself).

Anyway, during my recent stay in the past, I found myself awestruck by this wonderful swing sequence by legendary three-time champion Payne Stewart. The sequence was the cover story for the May issue of Golf Digest in 1991, the year of Payne’s second major win (you can read The issue here).

The images themselves are modeled after a scene in Bobby Jones’ popular “How Do I Play Golf” video series, where he uses white clothing against a black background to highlight key body parts.


Thus, Golf Digest reworked the idea with Top 50 Instructor Chuck Cook to highlight some of Payne’s “key moves in the classic swing”.

Key move #1: Don’t slide your hip onto the back

The first move Master Cook determines on the Payne swing is how little backwards Payne’s hip slides on the back swing. This is an important point for us: amateur golfers tend to move their hips off target too much on the backswing, and too small on regression. Payne does the opposite. The white circles in the images above provide a reference point.

“There is a little sideways movement in the back swing of Bain, but there is a clear slip to the downside,” Cook says. “Often, when I teach highly handicapped people, I urge them to simulate the Paine effect situation.”

Move key #2: Left lever extended (but not rigid)

From the upper back, the white sleeve on Payne’s left arm highlights how his left arm is kept away from his body, though not with much tension.

“In the first photo, Payne’s left arm is fully extended, outlining the width of his golf swing, but not stiff,” Cook writes. “I suggest studying these images of Payne while thinking of the swing as an old-fashioned wagon wheel. Payne’s left arm represents the spokes.”

Key Step #3: The Transition Movement

The last essential step is perhaps the most important: a closer look at how the lower body moves in transition. Nowadays, we call this move “sequencing”. It’s the one common denominator that makes every good golf work, and Cook uses the lower-body transition in Payne’s book to explain.

“Hips should turn back, shift to start wobbles, and then shift out of the way and become flat after impact,” he writes. “Here’s another way to think of it: The upper body pulls the lower body on the backswing, and the lower body pulls the upper body on the downswing.”

Some timeless lessons that still hold true. Again, you can read the article in its original form here, and check out the full black and white sequence below.

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