Watch the Seve Ballesteros shot that Lee Trevino called a ‘touch of class’

"A touch of class, baby."

R&A

In anticipation of the 150th Open at the Old Course at St. Andrews, I’ve been having fun diving into the archive of Open Championships.

And wandering through the extended highlights of the 1984 championship, the year Seve Ballesteros won his second of three Open Championships, I was treated to a truly delightful moment I never knew existed.

From the middle of the fairway on the reachable par-5 fifth hole during his third round, Seve encountered a rotten piece of luck: his ball ended in an awkward lie that demanded the best of Seve’s shot-making ability.

You can watch the full video at the end of the post, but first, let’s break it down.

First, you can see the setup adjustments Seve makes to hit this shot. He’s gripping down on the club to bring his body more level with the ball, and he’s keeping more flex in his back knee. Again, that’s to bring his body more level with the ball, which is both above his feet and on a downslope.

Seve adjusts so he’s more level with the ball.

R&A

Generally speaking, teachers say that when the ball is on a downslope, you should tilt your shoulders in the direction of the slope, as GOLF Top 100 Teacher Gary Weir explains here. That helps you swing in the direction of the slope, which in this case would prevent you from hitting the ball fat.

Seve goes with a different approach. The adjustments he makes above brings him more level with the ball. Then he alters his golf swing by hinging his wrists faster, which steepens his golf swing and helps him hit more down on the ball (which prevents him from catching the shot fat).

But Seve is a highly skilled player. It’s probably just easier for the rest of us to alter our setup, rather than tweak our golf swings.

He picks the club up quickly on the downswing.

R&A

Seve accounts for these changes by aiming slightly more to the left, and working a fade off the left edge of that bunker toward the pin. He catches it perfectly, and the best part is hearing his playing partner, Lee Trevino, commentating in the background.

“Touch of class, baby,” he says. “Touch of class.”

The commentators called it “pure magic,” and it was. Seve burned the edge of his eagle putt, but had you offered him a tap-in birdie from this awkward like before he hit the shot, he would’ve taken it.

That creates a fade shot, which he accounts for by aiming left.

R&A

Here’s the full clip:

Luke Kerr-Dineen

Golf.com Contributor

Luke Kerr-Dineen is the Game Improvement Editor at GOLF Magazine and GOLF.com. In his role he oversees the brand’s game improvement content spanning instruction, equipment, health and fitness, across all of GOLF’s multimedia platforms.

An alumni of the International Junior Golf Academy and the University of South Carolina–Beaufort golf team, where he helped them to No. 1 in the national NAIA rankings, Luke moved to New York in 2012 to pursue his Masters degree in Journalism from Columbia University. His work has also appeared in USA Today, Golf Digest, Newsweek and The Daily Beast.