I met Moe in 1994. He was 64 years old. Since that time I have become somewhat of a historian collecting photographs, memorabilia and archival video – documenting Moe’s swing history.
When it comes to Moe’s swing, even though he moved his hands from overlapping to ten -finger in 1994, I don’t see any mechanical differences in his technique from 1955 to 1992.
Bobby Beechem, a member of this blog, asked me comment on the differences I see in the pictures below.
Actually I am amazed mostly at the similarities not the differences – especially in the flex of the lead knee and the position of the arms and club. Mechanically I don’t see any differences. His stance might be slightly wider in in his later years but this could vary.
I also believe that there is a distinction between technique and motion where your motion could change but your technique can stay the same. This is where I think many see that Moe’s swing motion changed as he aged but his technique remained the same.
Other than the obvious aging differences, most of the differences you would see in Moe’s swing motion would be physical range and flexibility. This would be age related. You simply lose mobility as you age. I don’t necessarily consider this a mechanical / technique change at all. Here is a photo of Moe at the top of his backing from the same years.
You can obviously see a noticeable difference in the distance the club and arms move in the backswing. Moe’s younger body looks more mobile and elastic. Nevertheless, I don’t see a difference in technique.
The bottom line is that Moe’s swing never changed but he got older and gained weight. Both of these factors limit our body’s mobility – causing changes in how much we move – not necessarily how.
Now you might state the obvious and say well, if your mobility changes your swing must change. I would agree and also disagree. I agree that your swing length shortens where your body doesn’t turn as much and club doesn’t move as fast. However, mechanically I did not see Moe’s address position change nor did I see the fundamental movements change – such as movement into the backswing, transition, downswing and impact.
I don’t have the data to prove it but I would wager a large sum that his body rotations at impact where the same at age 35 as they were at age 70.
It might be useful to point out the actual mobility differences that happen when we age. These issues cause us to lose speed and feel pain when we move. Here are a few mobility differences I notice in Moe as he aged.
His lead arm was slightly bent at the top of his swing when he was younger.
I don’t mind a slightly bent lead arm. Yes, I said slightly. As a matter of fact, I think a slightly bent (relaxed) arm allows the body to pull the arm in transition (as opposed to when the arm is too rigid the arm pulls from the top).
When the arm is slightly relaxed, it also rotates easier allowing the trail arm to fold. (Reed Howard and I often discuss the function of the lead arm and have actually trained for his lead arm too bend slightly. )
Moe had more torso and pelvis turn in the backswing when he was young and this decreased as he aged.
If you look at the video and pictures this is obvious. Moe’s reduced rotation cost him speed as he aged. Some of this is due to weight gain as well. While his mechanics didn’t change, his body did.
Rotation is the main ingredient for speed. It’s not necessarily how much rotation but rather HOW your rotate. Both the upper body and lower body rotate during the swing. They sometimes rotate together and then they separate where they move in opposite directions as well. How well you rotate and separate as you stay in posture are the keys to producing speed.
Speaking of posture – Moe stayed down longer through impact in his youth.
I once asked Moe for his key to great ball-striking. He said “I stay with it so long”. What he meant is that he remained in posture through impact and into release. Moe’s Single Plane technique allowed him to keep his spine in the proper tilt though the ball – a key to getting through impact.
As Moe aged, he would be a bit more stood up through impact. It was hardly noticeable but again, this is part of aging and losing range of motion – notably in his hip flexibility and lower back.
What can we learn from Moe when it comes to aging and how it affects your swing?
I always ask the question “what can I learn?” when I discover something relevant. Many of the students I teach are aging golfers. I am becoming one myself. Knowing that we are all going to age – we must understand the physical factors of how our bodies mobility affects our golf games. Here are some significant takeaways which I will discuss in upcoming blog posts.
- Stay healthy.
- Stay flexible.
- Take care of your body.
- Practice and develop your mobility.
- Lose weight if necessary.
That’s it for now. Thank you for the question Bob. If any of you have any questions or suggestions. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.