Gary Player: Bowing the left wrist is an accident waiting to happen

I see and hear many coaches and commentators focusing on the ‘bowed’ left wrist in the swing with today’s players.

This is not a new technique. Arnold Palmer and Lee Trevino played with a bowed left wrist. It was the main contributor to Arnold’s back issues and countless others who have played with a bowed left wrist. You need to remember that Arnold was one of the greatest golfers, but all his Majors came in a six-year window. The issue of playing with the left wrist bowed is that it puts too much pressure on the back as the lower body cannot turn fast enough and the pressure through impact is placed on the back.

Lee, on the other hand, was very open at address and the pressure generated wasn’t the same, but he did have to aim 100 yards left off the tee.

Players these days appear to focus too much on distance and quickly forget their natural talent. The best example of this are the one-time Major winners who win and then go on to change their swing with a new coach. This is something I have never understood. If you are good enough to win a Major why change the swing that has just beaten the best players in the world? It’s crazy.

Ben Hogan would turn in his grave if he could see some of the swings that are being taught today. If players want to emulate one of the greatest swings of all time just admire Hogan’s and forget that bowed left wrist.

I had to adapt my game and make sure I was physically as fit and as strong as possible, to take on the likes of Jack Nicklaus. Both Jack and Arnold used to tell me that lifting weights was detrimental to the golf swing. It really wasn’t until Tiger came onto the scene before many Tour players started to appreciate the benefits of a structured gym programme. Today, players spend as much time in the gym as they do on the course. Bryson has showcased just how you can build your body through exercise to improve speed and power but Jack Nicklaus in his prime, with modern day equipment, would be matching him off the tee for distance.

People are amazed by the distance players hit the ball these days, but Jack won a long drive championship back in the 1960s with a drive of 341 yards. That was with a persimmon driver head and a balata ball. He won a money clip at that event, and he still uses it to this day. Imagine the numbers if he had a long drive club and a modern ball!

The game is now showbusiness and distance is being used to excite audiences around the world. The problem with that is the impact it is having on the environment. Cutting down trees to make courses longer should be made illegal as it is not necessary. In fact, more trees should be planted on courses to make them more challenging and push the big hitters to think twice about reaching for the driver.

How to save courses

The best courses in the world are tree-lined. Augusta and Royal Melbourne should be examples of how nature can be used to get players away from this bomb and gouge approach to the game. Driving the ball further than your opponent is an asset but not a necessity. You cannot win in this game, no matter how far you drive the ball if you can’t putt and your mind isn’t strong. Many are impressed by how far Bryson hits the ball but he’s also a great putter.

On the topic of great putters. I was riveted to this year’s Solheim Cup. The ladies are just phenomenal putters and the way they behaved in victory and loss was not only a joy to watch, but how the spirit of the game should be played. Like the men, they have all worked hard in the gym and it showed on the course. All this effort hasn’t gone unnoticed as new sponsors like Aramco have come onboard to support ladies professional golf and it’s great to see.

It is not all about the young guns this month. I was delighted to see my friend Bernhard Langer win again at 61 years of age at the Dominion Energy Charity Classic on the Champions Tour. He only needs three more victories to tie Hale Irwin’s record of 45 wins and considering Bernhard not only leads the Order of Merit but also the scoring average statistics, it is just a matter of time. Bernhard has already surpassed Hale’s $27 million career earnings by more than $4 million and that figure will just continue to grow.