Those pretty little swings - Part 1

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They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder but Editor Mark Flanagan thought he would give it a go anyway, picking his all-time 18 best-looking golf swings.
Posted on
April 6, 2023
Mark Flanagan in
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

18) Howard Clark

After David Leadbetter had finished with the Leeds player, Clark had a swing to die for. The legendary coach flattened out the backswing and the result was pretty spectacular.

Clark was a famously good iron player, thudding the ball long and high with a beautifully rhythmical action. Much like his long-time Ryder Cup colleague Ian Woosnam, it was all achieved with the minimum of fuss.

17) Michelle Wie

If Michelle Wie could have putted as well as she struck a golf ball, the American would have almost certainly been as dominant as Tiger Woods. Wie was the original female power player, aided by an incredible physique and athletic prowess.

In her pomp she would overpower courses (just like Tiger) but could never translate that into victories. Her one Major success came at the US Open in 2014, a paltry return for arguably the most precocious golfer ever to play the game.

Wie famously qualified for the American Amateur when she was aged just 10 and in 2003, aged just 13, made the cut at an LPGA Tour event. She is now married with one child but only turned 33 in October. She still has time to make an even bigger impact.

16) Jerry Pate

Pate had arguably the most technically adept golf swing of all time. Picking holes in it is virtually impossible. He famously made an enormous impression on the game with his memorable victory in the 1976 US Open. His five iron at the Atlanta Athletic Club to two feet remains one of the great clutch shots of all time. The then 22-year-old was playing out of the rough but he stunned crowds by knocking it so close to a front pin surrounded by water.

However Pate never properly recovered from damaging his shoulder while practising with a one iron ahead of the 1982 Open.

Other barriers to success were alluded to a year earlier when Lee Trevino described Pate as the best player in the world from the shoulders down. The two played together in the 1981 Ryder Cup and, with the senior partner telling Pate what to hit and when, the duo proved an unstoppable combination at Walton Heath.

15) Bobby Jones

Gary Player described Jones as having the best swing in golf. Yes there is a lot of leg movement – classically prevalent in that era – but if you just watch the downswing, he generates enormous power with ‘lag’ that would leave many current-day pros looking on jealously.

His head position at impact is remarkable and textbook at the same time and everything is achieved with a wonderful Monty-esque flow.

14) Adam Scott

Adam Scott was almost the modern-day version of his fellow countryman Steve Elkington (see Part 3) in that, of his era, his was the swing everyone else wanted.

Scott looks like he is trying harder than Elkington (not difficult) but in every respect – speed, power, grace, rhythm – it almost has as much innate beauty.

13) Payne Stewart

When it comes to the appealing fluidity of a golf swing it is difficult to eclipse Payne Stewart. There never appears to be any change of pace and the American created wonderful angles in just the right places.

While the man might have been considered brash in some quarters, his swing was grace personified and his tragic death at the age of 32 robbed the golfing world of so much. You can imagine, with that action, he would have made hay on the Seniors Tour.


Part 2, Part 3


Other articles in the 18 Club Series:
The 17th hole at Sawgrass’s 18 most iconic moment
Augusta’s holes ranked from 1 to 18
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About Mark Flanagan

Mark Flanagan is editor of Golf Today having spent 25 years as a sports journalist. He has edited three other golf magazines and can often be found missing putts from inside gimme range.

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