Jack Nicklaus – Power of the Golden Bear

Over the decades many professionals have tried to emulate Jack Nicklaus’ swing and come up short or developed a bad back.

Pete Cowen takes a close look at one of the game’s greatest swings and explains why Jack’s mechanics generated so much power and how the Likes of Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson and Jon Rahm deliver the club through impact in a similar way. but the golden bear remains unique.

Many have believed that Jack Nicklaus’ swing was a reverse C but what they failed to see was it was a hip and shoulder angle tilt which did not stress the lower back. What players back in the day failed to appreciate either was just how big and strong Jack was in his prime. He could hold positions others could only dream of due to his size and strength. You need to remember that in 1970 at The Open at St Andrews he drove the 18th green all four rounds with a Persimmon driver and a balata ball. Even players today fail to achieve that, and the hole has not changed in 51 years! Jack was by far the biggest hitter of his era.

Today we hear all about the bowed left wrist of Brooks and Johnson where the face appears stronger. Jack shared the same bowed left wrist but unlike the power hitters of today Nicklaus’s left wrist was bowed due to his right wrist being set on top. He was able to have a flat left wrist in the same position as Brooks and company because of his signature right elbow. He has a strong left wrist when it comes to the change of direction and at impact even though he did not go back with one.

Let’s take a closer look at what is actually going on in the swing:

You can see at the address position he’s got extended arms and shaft, very similar to Bryson. He doesn’t have any sweep angle in his arm or the shaft, so he is almost pre-setting the impact position. Jack has got very rounded shoulders that forces the arms away and gives him a little more extension and a lot of people say that is a very powerful shoulder position.

In the takeaway, most players are trying to get that position on their backswing, where the club is strong and in the primary plane. The right wrist on top of the left and the clubface appears to be slightly closed but we all know it is square. He is also so strong in the legs, and you can see how he is winding up.

As he continues to wind up more in the legs, the right wrist is still on top, and the club face still appears strong relative to what other players look for, but I like to see a strong face and always have done. The right arm is starting to fly on top of the left and as we start top get to the top Jack’s signature flying right arm comes out. Though his right arm is flying the right wrist is supporting and his wrist positions are classical for strong hitting.

Pre-reheresed impact position
The take away everyone wants!
The right wrist set that controls everything
The signature Flying Elbow
Change of direction but look at the wrist positions!
Applying the pressure at impact
Hips and shoulders opening upwards
Right hand remains on top

On the way down he has created a mini Matthew Wolff swing. Where the right arm remains on top and then it comes under the left in the transition.

He’s still got the straight left arm at impact and the shaft extended with the right arm and wrist in the pressure position

He’s continuing to extend the arms as the body starts to open. The hips and shoulders are angled open but not too early and the extension of the right arm remains on top of the left.

Tiger v Jack

The one thing these two great players have in common is their ability to adapt. If either player has to play in the different eras, they would have found a way to win. Both can hit it high or knock it down and work the ball in either direction. I doubt we will see another player dominate the game as these two have done.

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