Modern Golf Swing vs Classic (Overview)

The golf swing has evolved over the years.  There have always been the elite golfers of every era.  The golfers that won the majors and hit the ball solidly.

Regardless of the swing they were chasing, these golfers were the elite of the elite and quite frankly might have been successful in any era and anything swing due to their hand eye coordination and their willingness to work hard and perfect a specific swing.

Modern Golf Swing vs Classic Golf Swing

Below we will breakdown the modern golf swing vs class golf swing and then talk about the current of today’s golf swing and the elements that are most commonly found.

We end by providing some recommendations and suggestions on how these golf swings can help you get better and the steps you can take to improve your own golf swing. Remember, golf is a journey, embrace the journey and enjoy every moment!

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3 amazing golfers…3 different swings. Tiger used multiple swings in his our journey.

Classic Golf Swing Overview

When you think back to the classic golf swings you saw a lot of the following:

  • Raised front front
  • Full hip rotation
  • Full shoulder rotation
  • Golfers swinging with power and fluidity
  • A full release
  • Extended rear leg at the top of the backswing

The names and swings that come to mind include Sam Snead, Jack Nicklaus, and Tom Watson.  The swings were longer and powerful, but had an element of being smooth.  The golfers appeared to let it flow and the swing was a thing of beauty from an artistic view.

These golfers spent more time playing vs practicing on the range.  They could get the golf ball around the course in a variety of conditions and were true experts at scoring.

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Modern Golf Swing Overview

And then golf changed in the 1980’s as the swing became much more restricted.  The goal was to hit more fairways, control the swing and to be able to control the golf ball on demand.  You heard terms like the “X Factor” and keeping the hips quiet and rotating the forearms.

I think of the swing that David Leadbetter taught Nick Faldo as the perfect exact of what the Modern swing was during the 1980’s and 1990’s.

When you think of the Modern swing during the 1980’s and 1990’s, you saw a lot of the following:

  • Both feet planted on the ground
  • The hips were restricted
  • A full shoulder turn, against restricted hips
  • The toe of the club pointing up when it reached the first parallel position
  • Forearm rotation
  • Swing plane control
  • Flex rear leg at the top of the golf swing

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These swings appear to be idealistic from a visual standpoint.  The video camera became more popular and golfers started to chase positions in the golf swing.  More and more of the swings looked similar and were a thing of beauty from an engineering perspective.

Everything appears to be on the proper plane with the golfer executing the different positions in the golf swing after hours and hours of practicing those positions on the driving range or in front of a mirror.

Today’s Golf Swing Overview

The golf swing of the 2020’s is defined by the power (driver swing) and precision (iron and wedges) that golfers have been able to combine.  They can hit a driver a long way, but can also hit solid irons and wedges that leave plenty of birdie opportunities.  

They are great out of the fairway or rough and the golfers of the past might be critical of their ability to hit the driver straight.  The true modern swing of today’s era is a lot of “bomb and gouge” meaning hit the ball as far as you can, go find it and gouge out of the rough onto the green.

Golfers like Phil Mickelon, Tiger Woods and Vijay Singh led this evolution of the game into the style ofter refered to as “bomb and gouge”

Swing Thoughts in Golf

Some of the characteristics that you might describe the current swing used on tour:

  • Powerful with the driver, yet precision with irons and wedges.
  • Athletic and non restricted
  • Fuller hip and shoulder turn compared to the previous swing
  • A variety of golf swings
  • A blend of science and art

I believe the current swing of today’s players takes the best of the classic and modern era and we have an improved swing for today’s equipment and course conditions.  The golfers are athletic and powerful, yet have great hands around the greens.

They can hit a driver consistently 300 plus yards and shape it as they need to.  They can go low and play in many conditions.  I picture Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson winning US Opens with a powerful approach.  Or the Jordan Spieth’s and Justin Thomas’s of the world who aren’t the biggest, yet hit the ball a long way.  They are competitors that use the analytics of a Trackman, yet can still find their way around a golf course and make a ton of birdies.

When you can combine the science (ball and club data) with the art (ball tracer and playing) you have a great combination for swing and score improvement!

Modern Golf Swing vs Class: Which is best for your game

I would recommend a golfer swing that has the following:

  • A full hip and shoulder turn
  • An athletic element with body rotation
  • A blend of science and art

With today’s era, we have the benefit of amazing video of the best golf swings from every era.  We also have launch monitors to get instant feedback on what the club or ball were doing in the swing.  We have overspeed training science to out advantage and amazing club technology to help us take our game to the next level.

I would recommend checking out teachers like Shawn Clement, George Gankas and Mike Malaska (see reviews linked below of all 3 and others) and see what teacher you best connect with.  They all have adjusted to today’s current golf swing and can take your down the right path!  

Final Recommendation: Buy A Launch Monitor

The greatest game changer in my golf journey has been the addition of a Skytrak to receive instant feedback on the following data:

  • Carry and Total Distance
  • Spin Rate
  • Ball Speed
  • Spin Axis
  • Launch Angle

This set of data gives me the instant feedback I need in addition to a shot tracer.  I have studied the ball flight laws and the data provided and can make adjustments to my swing as needed to control the clubface and to control my swing path.

I can play golf 365 days a year with my Skytrak when paired with The Golf Club (TGC) software and can “find the secret in the dirt” like Ben Hogan recommended.  Although on my hitting mat, there isn’t much direct, but plenty of feedback and shot tracers to read my flight and the key data!

I would highly recommend checking out a Skytrak or Mevo Plus for your use at the driving range or even into a net at your house. 

Current Price on Skytrak

Current Price on Mevo+

For all of your launch monitor or simulator needs, I would highly recommend Rain or Shine Golf.  The customer service and options for financing are 1st class!

Whatever swing you use, you will need to put in the time to perfect or own!

Final Thoughts: Modern Golf Swing vs Classic Golf Swing

If you take the best golfers of any era, regardless of clubs, swing methodology or conditions and they could be elite golfers in that era as well as their own.  Lee Trevino would stripe the ball in any era.  Tiger Woods would dominate in any era.  Take a golfer like Gary Player and put him in today’s era and he would be even stronger both physically and mentally and still dominate in certain tournaments.

Take Action – What You Can Do Today to Get Better

What does this mean for you?  I believe in the following recipe to get better:

1 – Improve your motion in the golf swing by identifying a golf instructor.  Here are some options:

Here is a list of golf instructors that we have reviewed:

2 – Train to swing faster and improve your swing speed.  Here are some options:

Looking to gain more Speed and Distance in your swing. Two Options:

3 – Understand course strategy and work to break through your next barrier.  Here is a series on breaking through:

We have provided guides on how to break 100, 90, 80 and 70. Check out more below, if interested.

4 – Practice Frequently

Did you know that I build a golf simulator in my garage and have played over 500 rounds of golf on my SkyTrak system?  It has been a game changer and one worth checking out. Here are some of my other posts on golf simulators frequently asked questions:

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