Editor’s Note: This is the first in a yearlong series featuring golf icon Johnny Miller and his takes on the best swing moves from golf’s greatest legends. To kick it off, we asked Miller to talk about a legend with whom he’s intimately familiar—himself.
Two things made my swing unique compared with what you see now on the PGA Tour: a weak grip, with the Vs formed by my thumbs and forefingers on both hands pointing at my left shoulder, and a reverse-C finish, with my back arched, lower body leaning toward the target and my head back. The reverse C wasn’t just for looks—shifting my upper body back on my downswing allowed me to keep the clubface square to the target line longer, and to move it straight down the line through the impact zone instead of cutting across. The reverse C is one of the reasons I was so accurate, especially with my irons. Guys like Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Mike Reid and Calvin Peete—four of the straightest hitters ever to lace up a pair of spikes—also had reverse-C finishes. In 1986, Calvin hit every fairway at the Memorial Tournament all four days, and then did the same thing the very next year.
You don’t see the reverse C as much anymore—today’s players like to be more on top of the ball at impact and to create speed by rotating hard around their center. To me, that shrinks the amount of time the clubface is actually square to the target line to a fraction of a millisecond. Sure, it’s a faster swing, but it has a smaller margin for error, and those that use it often need three caddies to find the ball.
A reverse C happens naturally—you can’t force it. It results from solid swing mechanics, which you can get by working in front of a mirror. All the guys I know with great swings do mirror work. As a kid, I’d copy my favorite player’s technique out of books and magazines position by position, going from the printed page to the mirror at all the key points. If you’re struggling with your motion, this is the best—and only, really—way to get the moves you need to hit the ball farther and straighter.
This article first appeared in the March 2012 issue of Golf Magazine. The February issue is on newsstands and the tablet version is available for free for magazine subscribers on iPad, Kindle Fire, Nook Tablet, Nook Color and Samsung Galaxy Tab. Learn more