Harold “Jug” McSpaden (July 21, 1908 – April 22, 1996) is an American golfer that amassed 17 PGA tour victories. This places him tied 50th in terms of total PGA Tour wins, a spot he shares with Jim Furyk, Curtis Strange, and Bobby Cruikshank.
In addition to his impressive collection of victories, McSpaden also once recorded 31 top 10 finishes in a single season (1945). Both of these stats speak to the ultimate strength of McSpaden’s game. He was an exceptionally good ball striker.
The goal of this post is to shed light on the Jug McSpaden drill. This was a backswing training drill that McSpaden developed, and is currently taught by Jim Waldron. Waldron is most famous for discovering ‘the arm swing illusion‘, which suggests that most golfers are blind to the vertical movement of the arms during an efficient golf swing. Because they are unable to ‘see’ this vertical movement, the tendency is to employ excessive horizontal arm movement during a golf swing. This promotes a backswing that is way too flat, and by extension, an over-the-top follow-through that is all too common amongst amateur golfers.
Please note – You can gain more insight into Jim Waldron’s golf swing philosophy at balancepointgolf.com.
Table of Contents
How To Do The Jug McSpaden Drill
1- Address Position
Address the ball as you would normally. It is also completely acceptable to do this drill without a ball when first starting out. It is also helpful to do it slowly, so you can feel how to get into each position successfully.
2 - Arm Extenstion and Wrist Hinge
Extend your arms outward at a 45 degree angle, while cocking your wrists upward. You are basically moving your arms and hinging your wrists like you would with a normal backswing, but with minimal torso rotation.
3 - Rotate Torso and Shoulders To Complete Your Backswing
As you can see in the image above, Waldron has completed his backswing by rotating his torso and shoulders. You might be surprised by how easy it is to achieve an ideal backswing position using the Jug McSpaden drill.
You are essentially isolating the arm/wrist movement from the torso/shoulder movement. With a normal golf swing, you would blend these two movements together. With the McSpaden drill, you are separating the two movements, to improve your understanding of how to execute each movement successfully.
4 - Follow Through Like You Would With A Normal Shot
You should find it reasonably easy to follow through, once you have achieved the ideal backswing position using the drill.
However, you might struggle with rhythm, pace and timing. This is perfectly acceptable. It will take a few practice sessions before the McSpaden drill starts to feel natural.
The end goal is to complete your swing, as you would with a normal swing. The McSpaden Drill is all about exaggerating certain feelings during the backswing. The follow-through is basically identical to a normal golf swing.
Monte Scheinblum's Version of the Jug McSpaden Drill
Video Explanation: Take a normal setup to the ball and set your hand straight up like this. You want to pause for a second, and then turn the shoulders to the top of the backswing.
As you can see, the shoulders are set in an almost perfect position, so you don’t have your arms and hands overly active during the backswing.
In other words, your hands can’t ruin your backswing, and they also can’t save it either.
If your shoulder turn is too level to the ground, you will instantly know that it’s a bad move. The drill will force you to make a good shoulder turn because you don’t have your arms or hands involved.
1 - Normal Address Position
Address the ball, like you would with a normal golf shot.
2 - Hinge Your Wrists Directly Upward and Pause
With Monte’s drill, the first move is to hinge your wrists upward, without really moving your arms.
3 - Complete Your Backswing By Turning Your Shoulders
After cocking your wrist completely and taking a small pause, you simply complete your backswing by turning your torso and shoulders.
Comments on Scheinblum's Version of the Jug McSpaden Drill
It’s pretty clear that Scheinblum’s version of the Jug McSpaden drill is a bit less extreme than Jim Waldron’s version. It is probably easier for amateur golfers to implement.
The major difference is actually how the arms move. Waldron is fundamentally committed to the idea that the arms should move outward and upward during the backswing at a 45-degree angle. That is the basis of Waldron’s arm swing illusion concept.
Scheinblum doesn’t necessarily share Waldron’s convictions on this particular matter. Said another way, Scheinblum doesn’t fixate on the vertical movement of the arms during the backswing and follow-through, in the same way that Jim Waldron does.
Which Version Should You Try?
If you have a very flat backswing
You will probably find that Waldron’s version of the Jug McSpaden drill will prove more useful to you in the long run.
An overly flat backswing is arguably the most common error in amateur golf. It is the root cause of coming over the top for the vast majority of players, serving as the underlying catalyst of a persistent slice.
Waldron’s version of the McSpaden drill can potentially teach you how to use your arms, wrists, and torso correctly during the backswing and iron out an overly flat backswing.
If just want to get a basic feel for the drill
Scheinblum’s version of the Jug McSpaden drill is definitely a bit easier to implement.
You literally just cock your wrists upwards, take a pause, and then complete your backswing from that position. It’s the type of drill you can use as a preshot routine when hitting balls on the range.
The only downside of Scheinblum’s version is that you won’t necessarily gain a physiological understanding of how to move the arms outwards and upwards during the backswing, in the way that Jim Waldron and Jug McSpaden advocate.