There are a lot of really good golf swings on the PGA Tour nowadays. Some of it is because golf swing instruction has improved through the years. Adam Scott sure has a good swing. Tiger Woods used to have a great swing, but I think he’s lost it somewhat. But I think Martin Kaymar probably swings the club the best of any PGA Tour players now. He sure proved it last week, leading all the way from start to finish at Pinehurst No. 2 in North Carolina. What a start: 65 and then another 65, and in the U.S. Open no less. Year-in-and-year-out, no golf tournament in the world tests how good a golf swing is as much as the U.S. Open does.
Pinehurst No. 2–I never did like it. I never could understand why it was rated so high and generally considered as famous golf course designer Donald Ross’s best layout. I played several tournaments there, and I couldn’t stand those upside-down cereal-bowl greens. It’s bad enough to raise so many greens three feet or more above the original landscape. In flatland Texas, where I’m from, they did that so that when a gully-washer rainstorm blew in, it wouldn’t flood the greens. But to then have them slope down at the edges, like they do at Pinehurst No. 2, is not very ingenuitive to me.
It reminds me of what my friend and loved PGA Tour pro Chi Chi Rodriguez once said when he played the U.S. Open at Oakmont in Pittsburgh, PA. Those greens were notorious for being so fast. Chi Chi said, with his Puerto Rican accent, “I marked my ball on the 10th green and my marker slid off the green.” That’s how I invisioned Pinehurst No. 2 except that they could never get those greens real fast.
And that reminds me of another thing at Pinehurst No. 2. Seems like they’re always changing that golf course. Where do they get all that money to do that. Take the greens. They used to be Bermuda grass. That’s the native grass in that warm, fairly, southern climate. Then they wanted them to be bent grass so they could get them putting fast on the Stimpmeter. Bermuda grass has long, deep roots. So, they had to dig about 1.5 feet out of all the greens replace it with expensive, sandy-loam soil, and then plant Bent grass or lay Bent sod. So, we played bent greens for a few years at Pinehurst No. 2. Then up came Bermuda grass from deep roots and took over the Bent. Why? They never dug down deep enough. What a mess and waste of money.
Then there’s the layout. They used to have a lot of waste bunkers and love grass at Pinehurst No. 2. It was natural to the area. Pine needles under the pine trees instead of rough. But a lot of purist golfers don’t think that provides a top championship contest with somewhat undefined fairways in places and sandy ground with not much rough. So, they changed it by grassing in alongside the fairways, making it like other golf courses. Now, they went back to no rough with the firm sand instead.
Some say that’s why Martin Kaymar shot a pair of 65s for the lowest 36 hole total in U.S. Open history. I don’t know. As good as he was playing, I don’t think it made any difference for him. Everybody else was playing for second.
Anyone who knows the golf swing well knows that Ben Hogan’s swing was the superior model against which all golf swings are measured. Hogan hit the ball better than any human being ever. I think Martin Kaymar’s golf swing is the closest to Ben Hogan’s of any PGA Tour player nowadays. About the only difference is that Hogan’s swing was flatter. But that’s because he was 5 foot and 8 inches tall and had long arms, and Kaymar is 6 feet tall. I really like how Kaymar moves his upper body on his forward swing and finishes with it much closer to his target than most players. That’s what Hogan did. It’s a big weight shift. The result is better balance and his head doesn’t do any bobbing up and down except to rise up a little well into his finish. I call it “keeping a level head.” Hogan did that better than anybody.
We used to talk about “the secret to Ben Hogan’s swing.” They called it “the secret,” but nobody knew what it was. Hogan was always mum about it until he wrote his book entitled Five Fundamentals. That little book is a classic. I knew about a guy who was a member at the golf club in Hershey, PA, where Hogan was the assistant pro some months for a while early in his career. I don’t remember his name, but let’s call him Charlie. Charlie would watch Hogan practice all the time and once asked him what was his secret. Ben said he couldn’t give out that important information. But the guy kept badgering Hogan to tell him. Finally, one day Ben announced to members in the pro shop, with Charlie present, that he had decided to tell only Charlie his secret. Charlie’s eyes got big and bright. Ben then whispered in Charlie’s ear, “practice.”
Kaymar also psychologically kept a level head with that big lead and therefore never gave anybody a chance to catch him. Hats off to Martin Kaymar, now a two-time major winner plus a Players Championship win a month ago. After he won the PGA Championship in 2010 and was No. 1 in the world in 2011, you didn’t hear much about him. I was wondering, “What’s happened to Martin Kaymar? Has he fallen off the planet?” No more. The winner of 11 PGA Tour tournaments now, Martin Kaymar is coming into his own as one of the best pro golfers on the planet in this century. And he’s got a great golf swing to prove it.