Blog Entry

Some might call it swing oil, but not Nicklaus

Posted on: February 29, 2012 10:55 am
Edited on: February 29, 2012 11:04 am
 

By Steve Elling

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. -- It started off as a spontaneous treatise to a question indirectly relating to the putting issues of Tiger Woods, but the response took an interesting detour into an area that had not much been explored.

Eighteen-time major champion Jack Nicklaus never experienced debilitating putting slumps over his legendary career, and he's developed an interesting theory as to why it afflicted plenty of other legends, from Ben Hogan to Sam Snead to Arnold Palmer, but never seemed to bother him.

Yet the perceived root cause is, shall we say, a sensitive area.

Couching his words carefully, Nicklaus said Tuesday at the Honda Classic that he believes his putting stroke has remained steady over the years because he didn’t drink during tournament weeks, while other players from the old-guard era used to repeatedly hoist a cold one after rounds.

Or based on the stories circulating from back in that era, more than one, in some instances.

"I don’t want you to take this the wrong way, please, because I am not condemning what happened, but in those days, most of those guys were club pros in the old days, the Hogans and Sneads and so forth," Nicklaus said. "Their life was playing golf maybe 20 weeks a year and the usual thing was to come in after a round, sit down, have a drink and socialize.

"I have always felt that drinking does not do well with nerves. The guys today don’t do that. I don’t think you see that and I never did that. Did I have a drink, sure, I had a drink here and there. But never while I was playing in tournaments. I always felt it was terrible for your nerves and terrible for your touch.

"I don’t think the guys did it because they were nervous, it was just their way of life, a social way of life. Golf was a social sport. Guys today take the game more as athletes, in a different way. I took it pretty much that way.

"I never lost [my stroke], never. Even today, I am just as quiet over a putt as I was when I was playing. I am not saying these guys were [heavy] drinkers. I am just saying it was part of their life, part of their culture. It's not part of the culture now.

"You don’t really hear about the yips anymore, do you? The only guy I remember who had the yips, who I know was not a drinker, was Langer. And he has overcome them."

Interesting theory, and one never before espoused, as far as we know. Nicklaus seemed to sense that some would take it the wrong way.

"Probably a theory I probably shouldn't have said here," he said.

And clearly, none of it applicable to the recent putting plight of Woods, who isn't much of a drinker, socially or otherwise.

Comments

Since: Jun 5, 2011
Posted on: February 29, 2012 8:10 pm
 

Some might call it swing oil, but not Nicklaus

Nicklaus is spot on here about Snead.  If Snead hadn't drank, everybody would still be chasing him.  I still see him as the second-greatest player of all time next to Nicklaus.  From all accounts of the era, Slammin' Sammy knew how to "slam" it on the 19th hole, too.  I have read in more than one place that Snead could hold his whiskey extremely well.  Sadly, like playing golf extremely well, that takes a lot of practice.

The only reason I won't believe it about Arnold Palmer is that the drink named after him is iced tea and lemonade.  I worked in a lot of country clubs, and never once saw anyone ask for an "Arnold Palmer" and even think of putting liquor in it.  The on-course chain smoking might have hurt him a lot, though.  

Ultimately, though, I think Palmer's problems were caused by a slightly unorthodox swing that used a lot of fast-twitch muscles more than anything related to drinking.   Then again, Jack was there for a lot of it; none of us were.



Since: Sep 19, 2011
Posted on: February 29, 2012 3:53 pm
 

Some might call it swing oil, but not Nicklaus

"And clearly, none of it applicable to the recent putting plight of Woods, who isn't much of a drinker, socially or otherwise."

Two years ago I would have accepted that without reservation.  Now, it would not surprise me to learn the fruit he eats on course is soaked in Jack Daniels.  Has anyone in sports history seen their believability factor drop as far as Woods'?



Since: Nov 19, 2006
Posted on: February 29, 2012 3:39 pm
 

Some might call it swing oil, but not Nicklaus

Can I get a shot of Jeager and a beer for Mr. Nicklaus please? Tell em Tiger sent it over.....



Since: Jan 12, 2010
Posted on: February 29, 2012 3:01 pm
 

Some might call it swing oil, but not Nicklaus

tiger isnt much of a drinker??... So wat was he doing all those nights going out with strippers, pornstars and other whores??.. Playing bingo?..C'mon. And I will say one thing, Im an assistant pro at Medinah, and I can attest to Jack's word..its true, drinking and a rowdy social life does mess with your putting.. I know this unfortunately from many experiences.



Since: Sep 19, 2011
Posted on: February 29, 2012 2:41 pm
 

Some might call it swing oil, but not Nicklaus

bgtaylor, Miller suffered from the "yips" much of his career, and as far as I know, Johnny never drank at all (being a Mormon).

Miller is a frequent example of a pro golfer who developed the "yips."  (I assumed everyone was aware of this.)  Here's a 1988 article from the New York Times entitled, "."

Johnny's abstention from alcohol combined with the "yips" would seem to contradict Jack's theory.  That's my point.




Since: Sep 19, 2011
Posted on: February 29, 2012 2:32 pm
 

Some might call it swing oil, but not Nicklaus

Spags, they want their articles to show up when people do Google News searches on "Tiger Woods."  Your story will appear higher if you do things like include Woods' name in the title and first sentence.  That's why you see article titles like, "Mickelson beats Woods at Pebble Beach," and then Woods' name in the first five paragraphs.  Charlie Wi will not be mentioned much at all.  They are seeking to attract the Woods Only fans.

That's the bottom line.



Since: Oct 5, 2006
Posted on: February 29, 2012 2:06 pm
 

Some might call it swing oil, but not Nicklaus

LannyH -- what exactly is your point?  Johnny Miller's brilliant career was derailed (this is well known) by "injuries" sustained in construction work...  specifically his forearms were never quite right and he lost his surgical touch.  What does that have to do with drinking or Miller's faith?



Since: Jul 29, 2009
Posted on: February 29, 2012 1:48 pm
 

Some might call it swing oil, but not Nicklaus

Horse hockey, I play much better putting included afer the second beer.It's after 7 or 8 my game falls apart.



Since: Oct 12, 2011
Posted on: February 29, 2012 12:27 pm
 

Some might call it swing oil, but not Nicklaus

I like Jack, he is a legend.  But to say you never hear of the yips...?  Has he seen Dustin Johnson putt?



Since: Jan 6, 2012
Posted on: February 29, 2012 12:09 pm
 

Some might call it swing oil, but not Nicklaus

I don't get. Since Elling himself did not connect this theory with Tiger, why did he and CBS feel the need to tie it to Tiger at the beginning of the article, at the end of the article and in the article teaser that gets the reader to from the home page to this article. It's my opinion that CBS is "using" the public's interest in Tiger just to atttact readers. From the article teaser, I assumed Jack was making a ling to Tiger's putting woes and alcohol. Shame on CBS! What Jack said was in good taste, implicated no one and chastised no one. Leave it to CBS to attempt to twist his words into something more. The mainstream big sports media is shameless!


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