Unveiled! The 18 greatest GOLF Magazine lessons of all time

We hit the archives to find some of the best, most timeless and thought-provoking golf tips in our brand's history.

GOLF Magazine

GOLF Magazine’s November/December 2022 issue highlighted the greatest of everything — the best products, the best courses, heck, even the best NFL QB who just so happens to love the links. But we didn’t stop there. We dug deep and hit the archives to find some of the best, most timeless and thought-provoking tips — a good walk unspoiled down memory lane to get your game running great in the here and now.

Below is a compilation of our 18 greatest lessons of all time.

1. Annual 1967, “A collection of Palmer’s best lessons”

“The correct grip can make up for some flaws that could ruin a shot, among them the well-known one of getting your body too far ahead of the swing. When this happens, only ‘fast hands’ can save the hit, but the hands must first be in the right position on the club. The two errors that spell real trouble are looseness of the hands at the top, caused by taking the club too far back, and ‘losing’ the right finger by letting it go under the shaft, permitting the shaft to then slip into the fleshy part of the palm.” —Arnold Palmer

2. May 1970, “The lag or the bold putt — which is best for you?”

“Among golf ’s biggest clichés, the putter’s remark, ‘Never up, never in.’ I don’t buy it. Its underlying sense and what it makes you do on the greens, hit the ball hard, closes the side doors to the bottom of the cup and reduces the backdoor to a peephole…. Why depend only on that peephole inch at the back of the cup? With slower rolling putts, you use all the hole, all its doors. And even if it shouldn’t fall, the next one is a simple tap-in.” —Frank Beard

3. January 1975, “Learn from the best shotmakers!

“If there’s one single secret to Lee Trevino’s phenomenally accurate tee-shot play, keeping the clubhead on line to the target has to be it. To achieve this great extension through the ball, Lee emphasizes that the back of the left hand must always be in front of the clubface. ‘If the other guys [on the PGA Tour] ever learn that it is the back of the left hand that controls the clubface,’ Trevino says, ‘there would be a lot more winners, and I would have a lot more to worry about.’”

4. April 1975, “Now you can be a better trap player!”

“The first rule of good sand play is to keep the swing as close to normal as possible, regardless of the lie…. Any changes should be purely fundamental; in other words, in the address position. Beyond these changes it’s a matter of understanding such things as the length of the follow-through for short and long shots. You restrict your follow-through for a short shot to about waist height. For a long shot, your hands carry the club up to a high finish, about the same as you’d use on a normal iron shot. The backswing length never, and I repeat, never changes.” —Gary Player

5. October 1975, “Tilt”

“The spine is the axis of the swing. The shoulders rotate at right angles to and around the spine, and the shoulders and arms will swing the club up in whatever plane is established by the tilt. This is why it is so essential to establish the right tilt at address and to maintain it through impact. If you don’t establish the right tilt at the start, you’ve established the wrong swing plane. And if you change the tilt during the swing, you are changing your swing plane and, in effect, changing the path on which the club is swinging.” —Harry Obitz and Dick Farley

6. December 1975, “Slide knees — not hips — to trigger downswing” 

“For years, it has been fashionable to talk of a lateral hip slide as a trigger for the proper downswing. In actuality, the hips should not slide laterally at any point in the swing. They should turn. The motion toward the ball that many people mistakenly term a lateral hip slide is really a lateral slide of the knees. The release of the left knee and the transfer of weight to the left during the downswing create the illusion that the hips are sliding.” —Tom Weiskopf

7. June 1977, “Masters champion Tom Watson shows you which side dominates the swing”

“When you address the ball, key on extending the left arm firmly and take a very firm grip with the last three fingers of the left hand. In contrast, the right arm should be ‘soft,’ meaning slightly bent and closer to the body than the left. You should definitely feel the right arm is ‘inside’ the left. The average golfer gets into a lot of trouble because he doesn’t establish this left-side radius from the beginning of the swing.” —Tom Watson

8. July 1977, “Why this strange style produces a fool-proof chip”

“My chipping technique is geared toward one goal — minimizing mistakes. As such, I recommend it without hesitation to golfers of all levels of ability. Undoubtedly, the first thing you will notice is my ball position. On chip shots, I play the ball to the right of my right foot…. Because the ball is well back, I am forced to hit it with a downward blow. The only way I can mishit the shot is to catch it a little thin, and that kind of shot — sort of a half-top — isn’t too harmful.” —Hubert Green

9. September 1977, “Power comes from the legs, right? Wrong!”

“The legs do have a role in the swing — they affect the direction in which the clubhead is swung by the hands and arms in cooperation with the turning of the shoulders…. If, instead of straightening the left leg, you meet the ball in what Tommy Bolt called ‘the sitting position,’ you are far less likely to come over the top. Ben Crenshaw does that too — he comes into the ball bent-kneed.” —Harvey Penick

10. November 1985, “Robot swing”

“For the swing to be on plane, the club shaft must be parallel to the target line at the halfway-back position, when it is also parallel to the ground. Both [Mark] O’Meara and Iron Byron are in that position… The two clubfaces are in identical positions — slightly open relative to the target line: This happens naturally when the club is on plane.” —Hank Haney

11. May 1990, “It’s the new 3×4 system”

“Now that you have three swings and control over distance, it makes sense to add wedges to your bag and multiply the number of shots — and yardages — you can hit inside 100 yards. The amateur golfer should carry four wedges, each with a different loft. Being able to hit each wedge with three swings creates 12 shots.” —Dave Pelz

12. July 1990, “New light on the sand shot” 

“Extra spin: When the lie is clean but the pin cut close, this is the shot. Extra height and backspin mean the ball will stop quickly. Key is setting the body and club wide open at address. To hit well behind the ball, make a shallow swing. At impact, the sand flies in a correspondingly shallow wave…. The sand dramatically increases spin because the club has come through with the face open. Hold on tight with the left hand through the swing to keep an open face.” —Ken Venturi 

13. October 1990, “The mind game”

An anchor is a sensory stimulus — sight, sound, smell, taste, touch — that induces a specific memory or state of mind. The idea is to find a stimulus (anchor) that triggers a clear, relaxed state of mind. You might teach yourself to relax at the sight of the club resting behind the ball, the feeling of the right index finger pressing firmly against the tip of the right thumb as you take your grip or the sound of the clubhead thumping lightly against the ground.” —Marlin M. Mackenzie

14. October 1999, “How smart are you?”

“It has been confirmed in testing by Dave Pelz that the lower a chip shot’s trajectory, the straighter the ball will bounce upon landing. But when Pelz adjusted the amount of backspin, he found that more backspin led to more erratic results. Conclusion: The lower the trajectory and the less backspin, the tighter the dispersion pattern around the hole.”

15. December 1992, “The X Factor”

“Put a club behind your shoulders and practice rotating your upper body while your feet remain firmly planted on the ground. Concentrate on creating differential between your hips and upper body. If you get the club to point inside your left knee, great, but make sure you haven’t over-rotated your hips to get there.” —Jim McLean

16. October 2006, “The instant power move”

“About two or three feet before your hands reach impact, assertively rotate them toward the target. Imagine you’re gripping a screwdriver and turning it counterclockwise. This closes the clubface, generating big-time power. It’s important to note that you can turn your hands too early (you’ll hit a hook) or too late (a push), but you can’t turn them too much. So really go after it with an athletic motion.” —A.J. Bonar

17. October 2014, “Rip it like Rory!”

18. July 2019, “Justin Thomas is dialed in”

“On wedges and short irons, get into your setup, stretch the club out in front of you, then rotate back. Check that the clubhead is in line with your hands when the shaft is parallel to the ground. Next, return to address and make your normal swing. This simple drill helps keep the club in front of you. It’s saved me a lot, because if the clubhead ever gets behind my hands, I’m usually toast.” —Justin Thomas

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A former executive editor of GOLF Maga­zine, Rothman is now a remote contract freelancer. His primary role centers around custom publishing, which en­tails writing, editing and procuring client approval on travel advertorial sections. Since 2016, he has also written, pseudonymously, the popular “Rules Guy” monthly column, and often pens the recurring “How It Works” page. Rothman’s freelance work for both GOLF and GOLF.com runs the gamut from equipment, instruc­tion, travel and feature-writing, to editing major-championship previews and service packages.