What Make Jim Thorpe’s Golf Swing So Unusual?

In the world of golf, there are lots of popular names, such as Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, and Arnold Palmer, who are known to be among the greatest golfers of all time. In addition to that, there are also players who have become known in the sport not just because they are great in the game but as well as due to how they swing their golf clubs. One of the golf players with the most unusual golf swing is Jim Thorpe.

Jimmy Lee Thorpe or popularly known as Jim Thorpe, is an American professional golfer. He became a professional golfer in 1972 and had won three times on the PGA Tour in the mid-1980s. He exceeded this at the senior level when he won more than ten times, including a senior major championship, and made it to the top ten of the Champions Tour’s career money list back in 2004. 

Jim Thorpe has always been a breath of fresh air in the golf world. He is a self-made golf player with an aggressive slash of a swing that you will not learn in any golf lesson or watch in any instructional video. But what makes his golf swing so unusual? If you are also curious, read on as we’re giving you more information about Jim Thorpe’s unusual golf swing.

Jim Thorpe’s Golf Swing

graphic art of golf swing

Jim Thorpe has a very unique golf swing, and you need to see it to really understand how it is done. His finish is quite similar to Arnold Palmer’s helicopter finish but more exaggerated. But their swings are very different from each other. In fact, according to Johnny Miller, the swing had more moves compared to kung fu. Here are a few descriptions of his golf swing:

  • Closed Shoulders at Address: At the address, Jim Thorpe stands with his shoulders pointing well left of his foot line.
  • Flat Shoulder Turn: He has an extremely flat shoulder turn. In fact, his bicep almost reaches into his face at the top of the swing. He also lays the club off a good bit at the top. With this move, you can tell that the logo on his glove points straight to the sky halfway back versus to more in front of him. 
  • Falling Back: Jim Thorpe also allows his lower body to bump toward the target. However, his body curls up and remains behind the ball for a longer period compared to other golfers. 
  • Helicopter Finish: Jim Thorpe then stands tall very abruptly and handles the club off by doing a helicopter finish. The golf club ends up in front of him, which no other golfer does.

There is no other golfer who comes into the hitting zone more violently than Jim Thorpe. His corkscrew finish definitely looks like it could snap a man’s vertebrae. But that golf swing earned him two victories in 2001, which was equivalent to $1,827,223 in prize money. 

More About Jim Thorpe

Jim Thorpe is a self-made player who developed by hustling games on courses against players from the other side of the tracks. He’s a skillful athlete who had some success on the PGA Tour, winning thrice. He also enjoyed going to the horse track and casino. He has a colorful personality that made him a fan favorite. Eventually, he hit it big on the senior circuit. He won 13 times from 2000 to 2007. 

However, in 2010, he was sentenced to a minimum-security prison for failing to pay income taxes. He completed serving a sentence on January 17, 2011. His second tournament since being released was the Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf. Many people were glad when he came back. 

According to Golf Digest, for Jim Thorpe, playing golf is like handling a horse. He said that a good groom can get up close to a horse and read him well. He can tell if the horse is happy or not, fit or out of sorts, and prepared for a match. For him, golf is the same way. There are days when the course and golf swing are friendly and receptive to anything that the player wants to try. However, there are days when they are not in the mood to the pressed. 

Jim Thorpe said that trying to get too much out of the course or your golf swing can have negative effects and could even damage the game. During those times, he said that you should not give up but also learn to settle for something less than you might want. 

He also said that in his whole career on the PGA Tour, all he thought about was the 10 inches before impact. He knew that if he could make his clubhead get to the square in that short space, he could make money, and it worked pretty well. Before he turned 50, he had an idea. He doubled the strip to 20 inches, taking into account the 10 inches after the impact. He began hitting through the ball instead of at it. That was the time when he began to play the best golf of his life. Jim Thorpe shared that if there is a secret to playing golf, that is to let the ball get in the way of the clubhead. 

For Jim Thorpe, the most nerve-racking moment for most golfers is on the first tee at the beginning of an important round. He said that when he first played with Arnold Palmer, he could not get his golf ball to stay put on the tee, and knowing that Palmer was watching him made it worse. His advice is to always hit first if you can. That way, you can sneak up to the tea and place the ball on the peg while others are not watching.

Conclusion

With his unique golf swing, Jim Thorpe is indeed among the best golf players out there. Sometimes, you really have to do something different if you want to make a name for yourself. There is nothing wrong with experimenting with your moves as long as you are focused on the goal, which is hitting the ball and getting it into the hole. We hope this post helped you learn more about Jim Thorpe and his unusual golf swing.