Marty Canaday from nearby Summerville, SC wrote me last month with a good question about Moe Norman's Natural Golf.
"I use a Natural Golf (Moe Norman) swing. What is the difference between your swing and the Natural Golf swing? Do you know if anyone has successfully used your
swing approach with a Natural Golf grip (non-tapered, palm-grip on the club)?"
Of all the questions I get from people asking me to compare a particular swing to the Peak Performance Golf Swing, far and away most of them center around this particular one. And for good reason. Natural Golf is a swing that is based on the principle of "On, On, On Square & Solid" as described by Dr. Alistair Cochran in his book, Search For The Perfect Swing. It is also a limited turn, vertical swing.
When I was a young PGA professional, Moe used to spend his winters near a golf course where I worked and so I got to know him pretty well. He often said "I'm the only player who plays in a straight line." Well, I would have to say that a person using the PPGS properly also "plays in a straight line".
Where the two swings diverge significantly is in the setup. As you know, a PPGS setup starts with a relatively narrow stance, we bend forward at the waist and settle into a pre-loaded position with our arms and hands hanging naturally so that the hands are basically under our chin. We grip the club in the crimp formed at the base of our fingers and place both hands on the club so that the thumbs are pointing up the arms. This is our "Palms Perpendicular" position.
In Natural Golf, you are taught to take a very wide stance so that your legs are in opposition to each other with your feet well outside of your hips. You stand relatively far away from the ball, reaching for it so that your hands are well away from your body. And you grip the club in the palms of your hands.
Here's what I see as wrong with their setup approach. First, Dr. Ned Armstrong, my mentor and a leading orthopedic surgeon who has made a career-long scientific study of the effect of the golf swing on the human body, flatly states that any swing that places the legs in opposition is going to lead to major lower back pain because of the tremendous strain it puts on the hips and their related muscle groups. The reaching stance favored by Natural Golf instructors is so unstable that they cannot ground the club immediately behind the ball at address. Rather they ground the club well behind the ball and say that this simplifies the backswing. I think that's a rationalization--and a cover up for the fact that they have to do this in order to avoid tipping forward during their swing. Finally, I believe that the type of grip they use is essentially weaker than a PPGS grip and usually requires over-sized grips to maintain club head stability through impact.
So, Marty, to answer your question, if you adopt our narrower stance, bend at the waist and let your hands hang naturally under your chin, and get into a pre-loaded heavy right position, are you really using a Natural Golf swing? If the only remnant of Moe's swing theory is the palm grip, I would say not. If you are willing to adopt the Surge Swing's setup principles, I would venture to say that you would be well served to learn to grip the club in the crimp of your fingers with your Palms Perpendicular. I hope you do decide to go for the whole hog--your golf game will improve no doubt.
Keep it vertical!
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