Book Review – “The Anatomy of Greatness” by Brandell Chamblee

Ever look at swings from the past greats and compare them to today’s players? Ever wonder why we don’t see more of those swings today? Brandel Chamblee must be wondering the same thing too.

If you’re into golf, you probably know Brandel Chamblee. Perhaps not as the first round leader of the 1999 Masters. But more as the lead analyst for The Golf Channel. His reputation of an analyst isn’t always a glowing or popular one. He can be known to troll at bit on social media, and has been known to block people at the slightest disagreement.

You know what? The guy does a ton of research, his points are often well backed by facts. As much as you may not like him, he’s usually right and tough to debate.

In comes his book, The Anatomy of Greatness. Mr. Chamblee takes a look at the golf swing and shows time tested methods of what has worked for the best players. Players from Bobby Jones, Byron Nelson, Ben Hogan, Micky Wright, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Annika Sorenstam and Tiger-Slam era Tiger Woods are all on display.

Using the pictures he best thought backed his points, Chamblee goes across the entire golf swing; from the grip to the finish, looking at what has worked best for these players.

Interestingly enough, a lot of this goes against current modern teaching. Where a lot of teachers will advocate for a neutral grip, Chamblee shows the strong grip is consistent amongst great players. Where modern teachers will tell you to put the ball in different spots depending on the club, Chamblee shows how a player like Jack Nicklaus actually hit every club from the same ball position. Where modern teachers stress a straight back, Chamblee shows how that a slightly curved back has actually been preferred.

A lot of people have dismissed Chamblee on various his points. Some suggest his lack of big time success doesn’t make him qualified to make the comments he does. I never bought that argument. Great players don’t necessary make great teachers; and the best teachers aren’t always the best players.

What The Anatomy of Greatness gives is clear, concise, and solid examples of how some of golf’s all time best went about playing the game. A lot of the examples in the book are not what you see on PGA Tour practice ranges nowadays, but it’s hard to argue the roster of Chamblee’s examples.

So, do they actually work?

After finishing the book on a Friday night, I went out to the range Saturday and decided to change my entire setup based on Chamblee’s book. I’ve been struggling a bit in the early season; especially so with the driver. I was looking for a fresh approach to the swing and see if it worked.

Wedges worked immediately. The rest of the bag took some time, and I may have more work to do with the long irons. But I must say, I hit some of the longest drives I’ve ever hit. This after just one 30 minute range session and 9 holes of play.

I was able to get this book out of the Cincinnati Library, but I will be purchasing it after my experience this past weekend. If the techniques worked for Bobby Jones and Jack Nicklaus, they must be pretty good, eh?

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Posted in Golf Swing
4 comments on “Book Review – “The Anatomy of Greatness” by Brandell Chamblee
  1. Interesting stuff. I don’t agree with a lot of opinions as it relates to players and the tour, but he does seem to know the swing pretty well. May be worth a read!


    • I’m lucky that Cincinnati has a fantastic library system and had this book readily available. Even if Cincy doesn’t have it, there’s a network of Ohio libraries I can search for books for; just takes longer to get in my hands.

      During my last lesson, my pro was putting me in positions I didn’t think were right (either for me or in general). Two big ones were having a straight-edge back and ball position much further away from me.

      The former has never worked with me. Despite my young-ish age, my lower back isn’t the best, and doing the straight back thing always created a lot of tension, which is never a good thing in a golf swing. As for the latter, Byron Nelson always said you can’t have the ball too close to you. Again, a tension thing.

      After the lesson, I pretty much tried to forget everything that was just taught to me. I had trouble finding my old swing back, that, with the exception of driver, I was pretty happy with. After a couple of pretty bad rounds in me, I had to get some new swing thoughts.

      This book came at the right place and right time for me. I’ve always wondered by more players didn’t use swings from previous generations. Or, why Tiger ever changed his swing to begin with. This book is Chamblee’s thesis on the swing. It’s not just older swings. Jamie Sadlowski (long-driver) uses the same techniques; as does Phil, and this may be a reason Phil’s still competing at 45 and Tiger’s riding IR at the moment.

      I realize I may be in the honeymoon phase of these swing thoughts and movements, but I’m willing to give them a chance.


      • Good stuff here. Sounds like an interesting read. I think Tiger is hurt because of too much heavy lifting and military drills, but I do wonder why he ever changed from the Butch swing. Good luck with your game and keep working.


  2. Criss,

    Thanks for this review, I’ll be interested to pick this book up and give it a read. Although Brandel can get on my nerves sometimes, he leaves no stones unturned in his research and definitely has a good knowledge of the golf swing.



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