Got to thinking about this business of buying your golf swing at the pharmacy. Thinking in particular about the evolution of the prototype swing from the relatively long/loose/elegant swings of Jones, Snead, Middlecoff, several guys from the 60s and 70s, Watson, even the eccentric Colin Montgomery, and even the stuff I recently read in which Nicklaus was remarking that he much preferred the “swing” style to the “hit” style. (He never mentioned Arnold Palmer but I assume Palmer was one of those he had in mind.) Thinking of how even the most stylish of the modern players are basically hitters, not swingers. About how Hogan, who I think pictured himself as a hitter (“I only wish I had 3 right hands so I could hit the ball even harder”) and did not have a naturally elegant swing (or even a good natural swing at all), still had a whole lot of wrist cock and a whole lot of lag, even if he was as much a hitter as a swinger. And then realizing that when Tiger switched from being a swinger (1997 Masters) to a hitter (once he moved totally away from Butch and thereafter), so did everyone else. Today, I look at swings like Hunter Mahan and think, boy, that is an ugly swing, and boy, that must take an awful lot of hours in the gym (or the pharmacy) in order to develop enough “core” muscles to be able to rotate the torso fast enough to hit the ball 300 yards without using your hands much at all.
And then I thought about McIlroy, whose childhood photos reveal not just a phenomenally gifted prodigy, but a kid who swung like a kid – in other words, a beautiful, natural, SWING. And I am reminded that just a few years ago, when he was already very successful, he was kind of pudgy, and now he looks more like Tiger than like Rory, and while he was always long, now he is off-the-planet long, and I wonder: are all the big guys now going to the juice? Do we really believe these new physiques were bought solely in the gym? Is golf now into its Sammy Sosa/Mark Mcguire era, where no one pays any attention because chicks dig the long ball? And are we also on the verge of seeing the injury list in a golf tournament looking more like the injury lists for the NFL?