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Learn the Essentials of a Natural Swing: Lessons from Azinger and Redman

Redman Azinger Range

John Redman and Paul Azinger are well-known advocates for keeping the golf swing simple and natural. Redman, a renowned instructor in his own right, taught Azinger and helped shape his unorthodox swing. Redman believed the left hand should grip the club in its natural position, allowing the arm to hang straight down. This produces a very strong, stacked left hand grip, which Azinger utilized throughout his PGA Tour career. Redman also felt the hips should initiate and control the entire golf swing, not the hands and arms. The club responds to the turning hips, creating lag and maximizing clubhead speed.

Azinger credits Redman and his simple, repeatable swing model for much of his success, including his 1993 PGA Championship victory. Together, Azinger and Redman produced an instructional video titled “The Azinger Way” (linked below) demonstrating these core techniques. Redman outlined his approach in the book “John Redman’s Essentials of the Golf Swing,” emphasizing keeping the swing natural by using body motion to control the club. He advocated resisting manipulation of the clubface and eliminating tension in the hands and arms.

Philosophy

Redman taught golfers to “hit the ball with your practice swing,” simplifying the complex game. Azinger and Redman popularized this philosophy of effortless power through proper sequencing, use of centrifugal force and letting the club do the work.

Years ago, as lost as ever with my own swing, a friend sent me the “Azinger Way” video and suggested that I pick up the Redman book, as well as a Whippy Tempomaster training aid (which Redman uses in the book). I have never met a training aid that I didn’t need to have, so of course I got right to it. I still have my copy of the book right here, worn out and creased, and often go back to it when I feel oversaturated and lost.

In this post, we’ll look at some of the insights you can take away from these two legends of the game, some training aids that compliment their teaching (Azinger basically builds a makeshift Tour Aim in the video), and some additional reading.

john redman - essentials of the golf swing

John Redman Bio

John Redman (1932-2013) was a world-famous golf instructor who taught many notable professionals and thousands of amateur golfers over his 50 year career. Redman was a protégé of renowned instructor Tommy Armour and traveled extensively, teaching kings, presidents, athletes, celebrities and astronauts. His students included PGA champions like Paul Azinger, who credited Redman with making his key tournament wins possible. Redman also coached the first golf shot hit on the moon by astronaut Alan Shepard using one of Redman’s golf balls.

Redman is best known for his 1993 book “John Redman’s Essentials of the Golf Swing”, where he shares his simple, natural swing technique focusing on core motions rather than brute strength. The book provides practical, straightforward instructions to adapt Redman’s winning swing through drills, mental cues and over 100 photos. Redman taught an alternative to the rigid “forearm swing”, instead generating all motion from the body’s core momentum and weight shift. His revolutionary method made golf achievable for all levels of players. Redman was named one of the 50 greatest teachers in golf history. His legacy lives on through his famous students and revolutionary instructional methods.

redman astronaut

Paul Azinger Bio

Paul Azinger is an American professional golfer who had a successful career on the PGA Tour, winning 12 tournaments including the 1993 PGA Championship. Azinger grew up in Florida and attended Florida State University, where he led the golf team to new heights before turning pro in 1981. In the late 1980s, Azinger established himself as one of the PGA Tour’s top players, with multiple wins and a second place finish at the 1987 Open Championship.

At age 33, Azinger was diagnosed with lymphoma and underwent 6 painful months of chemotherapy in 1993-94. Just 10 months after finishing treatments, Azinger made an incredible comeback by winning the PGA Championship in an emotional triumph. Azinger’s courageous journey through cancer and return to glory is chronicled in his autobiography “Zinger.”

In addition to his playing career, Azinger has worked as a golf broadcaster for NBC, ABC, ESPN and Fox Sports. He also captained the victorious 2008 U.S. Ryder Cup team, implementing an innovative strategy. Azinger is known for his determination in overcoming adversity and relying on his Christian faith. His inspirational story conveys a timeless message about summoning inner strength. Azinger continues to impact golf through his broadcast commentary, writings and charitable work.

zinger pga

Redman’s Fundamentals

John Redman was a world-renowned golf instructor who advocated keeping the golf swing natural and simple.  Redman emphasized using the body to generate power, initiating the swing with the hips, keeping the grip and motion natural, and minimizing tension and manipulation of the clubface. His straightforward techniques made the complex mechanics of the golf swing more achievable for the average player. Redman taught golfers to build sequences that unlocked the body’s power and allowed the club to work properly.

Natural Grip

Redman emphasized a strong grip, referring to it as “your natural grip,” calling it the single most important fundamental. As important as the grip itself, is the insistance on light grip pressure. If you can tolerate the really bad 80s/90s music, the Azinger Way video linked below is a must watch. The tune that plays over and over gives me some kind of Beverly Hills Cop vibe, but not in a good way. To see these two discussing and demonstrating the grip, talking about what not to do, and making their case advocating the strong grip is very convincing.

If that doesn’t do it for you, pick up the book and read the section on John Redman’s lesson with a skeptical Muffin Spencer-Devlin in the late 70s. It will make you want to pick up a wedge and learn to fire knock-down shots with that strong grip.

redman devlin 79

Takeaway – Drag the Club Back

John Redman advocated initiating the backswing with a hip turn rather than just the arms and hands. He wanted golfers to feel their hips start turning left as they begin the backswing, with the arms and club responding to that motion. This creates a “lagging” clubhead and builds tremendous potential power. Redman felt starting the backswing with the hips promoted a more natural, athletic motion and eliminated tension in the hands and arms. It also engages the large muscles to control and swing the club, rather than relying on smaller muscles in the arms and hands.

Redman wanted players to feel like the clubhead is “dragging behind” the body’s rotation on the backswing, what he referred to as dragging the club to the top. This stores energy and primes an explosive transition into the downswing. Redman’s unorthodox takeaway philosophy produced a dynamic, rhythmic swing that unleashed tremendous clubhead speed through impact. Additionally, in the style of Percy Boomer and his teachings in “On Learning Golf,” Redman advocated for a level hip and shoulder turn, “turning in a barrel.”

zinger barrel

Position at the Top

John Redman advocated a wide, relaxed backswing initiated by the hips turning left, allowing the arms and club to respond to that motion.  He wanted players to feel the clubhead “dragging behind” the body’s rotation, creating tremendous lag and potential powe. Redman taught resisting manipulation of the clubface and eliminating tension in the hands and arms at the top, made possible by the light grip. This combination of hip turn and relaxing the arms produces a sweeping backswing with the clubhead lagging well behind the body’s rotation.

At the top, Redman wanted the club shaft close to parallel with the target line, lagging behind the rotated hips and shoulders. The clubface should be in a neutral position with no tension in the arms. He did not advocate excessive shoulder turn or getting the arms too high. The resulting wide, relaxed top position with the shaft lagging stores power and primes an explosive transition into the downswing. Redman was not concerned about crossing the line at the top, stating that most good players do. Instead he focused on using the body to control the swing and generate speed. His unorthodox backswing unlocked tremendous power through proper sequencing.

redman top

An Azinger Putting Drill

The first breakthrough I ever had with my putting came from obsessing over this Azinger putting drill in my basement, using my Big Moss Augusta. The drill is so simple that you don’t really need anything other than a putter and a ball. Today I’m using my perfect practice putting mat when I revisit this one. I struggled mightily with short putts, missing an obscene number putts under 5 feet at the time. When I rewatched the video for this article, seeing Azinger teaching this drill brought back memories and I got right back to it.

In the video, Azinger demonstrates this simple yet effective drill for building confidence on the greens. He sets up a few balls around the hole at tap-in distance. Azinger then takes his putter and uses a continuous motion to push each ball into the hole. The key is keeping the putter head moving throughout the entire process of striking each ball and rolling it into the cup. Azinger advocates doing this drill to work on keeping the putter head on line and not decelerating through the stroke.

By repeatedly pushing the balls into the hole, it trains a connected motion and reinforces seeing the ball go into the hole. Over time, this instills confidence in your stroke and ability to make putts. It’s a simple way to eliminate the deceleration that impacts a lot of amateurs and causes short puts to go offline.

basement drill

In the book, Redman swings a “Whippy TempoMaster,” praising the benefits of swinging a club with a flexible shaft, which is akin to swinging a rope with a rock tied to one end. To Redan, this encouraged a natural motion, free swinging of the club, and proper use of centrifugal force. I still have a Whippy 7-Iron but have actually benched it in favor of the LagShot.

In the video, Azinger emphasizes quality of practice time over quantity and puts together a makeshift alignment station, stating that hitting 50 shots this way more valuable than 200 without it. What he constructed and utilized is basically a Tour Aim.

Training aids are not magic bullets and will not turn you into Paul Azinger overnight, so don’t believe that hype. What they will do for you, as Azinger stated, is help you focus and improve the quality of your practice. They are also not substitutes for quality instruction.

Lag Shot Swing Trainer

The LagShot swing trainer features a weighted 7-iron with an extremely flexible blue shaft that promotes proper sequencing and lag in the downswing. The heavy clubhead forces golfers to use their bodies to generate power rather than just their arms and hands. This trains the correct hips, shoulders, and arms kinematic sequence for an efficient swing. The whippy shaft helps golfers narrow the downswing and release the clubhead through impact for more speed. Additionally, the exaggerated shaft flex improves swing tempo and smoothness.

By swinging the LagShot and feeling the shaft load and unload, golfers can ingrain the proper transition between backswing and downswing. If swing faults like casting, flipping, or coming over the top exist, the LagShot will reveal those mistakes. The training aid also helps with solid ball striking by demanding precise impact conditions to hit shots on target. Overall, the Lagshot is an excellent and simple training aid that can help golfers improve tempo, sequencing, shallowing, lag, and ball striking for more powerful and consistent shots.

lagshot swing trainer

Tour Aim

Tour Aim 2.0, crowned the “Swiss Army Knife of Alignment Tools,” is a distinguished 2022 Golf Digest Best Training Aid Award winner. It’s a multidimensional tool offering benefits in multiple areas of the game, including:

  • Alignment improvement: Tour Aim 2.0 helps golfers correct alignment issues, ensuring they aim at their intended target accurately.
  • Swing correction: It assists in fixing over-the-top swings, helping players eliminate slices and hooks, and promoting draws and fades toward the target.
  • Enhanced Short Game: Say goodbye to stubbed and bladed chips and pitches around the greens; embrace improved up and down statistics.
  • Ease of Assembly: Puts together in a few seconds, adapting swiftly to new targets.
  • Universal Adaptability: Compatible with any surface — grass, turf, or mats, preserving the quality of grass ranges.
  • Ambidextrous Design: Suitable for both right and left-handed golfers, a simple turn does the trick.
  • We highlighted the value of the Tour Aim in our article. Understand the Critical Role of Alignment in your Golf Swing”
tour aim 2.0 golf alignment

Further Reading

Essentials of the Golf Swing
by John Redman

Summary: In his 1993 book, Redman shares the secret of his simple, natural golf swing that can be adapted for every shot. Redman teaches an alternative to the difficult “forearm swing.” His natural swing uses the body’s momentum and weight shift rather than sheer muscular strength. He provides straightforward, practical instructions illustrated with over 100 photos. The book covers proper setup and grip to build a solid foundation. Redman explains how to use your core momentum and weight transfer to power the swing. He shares drills and tips to groove key motions like the takeaway and hip turn. Overall, the book makes golf simple, natural and achievable for all levels through Redman’s easy-to-learn method.

Zinger
by Paul Azinger

Summary: After being diagnosed with cancer in 1993, Paul Azinger endured 6 painful months of chemotherapy before making an incredible comeback just 10 months later to emotionally triumph and win the 1993 PGA Championship through courage, faith, and determination. Azinger’s inspirational autobiography chronicles his early golf career, cancer battle, and ultimate victory over adversity in raw, personal detail, conveying a timeless message about the power of inner strength.

The Azinger Way Video

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