The Big 4 On Golf: Remembering Seve
From his short game to his dramatic style of play, our top teachers—Butch Harmon, David Leadbetter, Hank Haney and Jim McLean—discuss what made Seve Ballesteros such an incredible player.
Released on 5/12/2011
I don't know if we could say enough about Seve.
He was probably, to me, the most fun to watch
of any great champion I've ever seen.
I used to think Arnold was when I was younger,
because Arnold was pretty wild and he did these shots
from everywhere but Seve was beyond belief.
He was like an artist.
He, if you put him in trouble, he'd hit these miraculous
shots, you put him in the middle of the fairway,
he's liable to miss the right bunker,
but you put him in trouble, where he didn't have to think
about the mechanics of what he was trying to do,
and he'd just hit the most gorgeous shots.
Short game, unbelievable.
I mean, very handsy,
very handsy in the way he did everything.
Whatever it is, Seve had it.
I mean, if he walked into a restaurant at night,
with that blue cashmere sweater thrown over his shoulder
and standing tall, everybody in the place stopped
and looked at him.
You'd go watch him play and he hit the ball pretty far too.
People don't realize Seve got it out there pretty good.
[David] Long way.
Yeah he was just wild with the driver.
I can remember around 1995 I did some work with Seve
and I went over to Pedrena where he lived in Santander
and we were practicing on the fairway, and they don't
have a range, so you just had a caddy out there,
I mean, he was literally hitting it all over the place
and I was talking about things and he's hitting it all
over the place and I remember saying to him, don't worry
yourself so much about your driver, I said,
you never were that great a driver, even when you were
winning all your championships, he goes Butch,
I drive the ball much better than everyone thinks I did,
don't tell me that.
People didn't realize how bad his back was.
And I think he never really, I worked with him for a year,
and I always remember that, I tried to get a little short
out of him, or compact, because his back couldn't
stand that old swing of his.
And so as he got older, he started hitting, not only did
it crooked but short and crooked, not a good combination.
And so in his early years with that huge turn,
he probably had 120 degree shoulder turn, I would think,
in his youth, I mean he hit it a long way,
as Butch was saying but he really didn't change his swing.
I think his mentality was such that he wouldn't allow
himself to make changes, he wasn't a mechanically type
guy, he was purely feel.
I think, you know, watching him play in New York
where he won the Westchester twice, he kind of,
had a bit of a change in the game too,
of the unbelievable energy of the crowd,
people were really jacked up, couldn't wait to watch him
because he might hit some wild chips but he could also hit
spectacular straight shots, I watched him tee off
on a tenth hole, on a Friday round,
and it was just packed, wall to wall, and he blew
that driver right on the center of the green, that little
green and people just went, just went crazy.
They loved seeing him pull the head cover off
and I think probably if he's playing in this era
when he had the new stuff, how far he would have
hit the golf ball and what he could have done.
He was to the short game, what Hogan was to ball-striking.
I mean, that's what everybody, besides the great recovery
shot, that's what everyone tried to copy his short game,
learn from his short game, you always hear the stories
about him pitching with a three iron, hitting lob shots
with a three iron, in tournaments everyone would want to
watch him hit short game shots.
He played shots with spin and that was different
but he's just such a phenomenal touch and just,
all the different shots he could play,
he got in some really bad spots so he had a lot of
opportunities to recover and he did
and it was impressive.
Whenever you'd go to a tournament, one of the things
you'd want to do was, if he's practicing short game,
you'd want to watch.