Johnny Revolta, the king of the little game

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“Iron Master” was the nickname of a PgaTour professional born in St. Louis in 1911 named Johnny Revolta. Far from being powerful off the tee, Johnny Revolta compensated for his lack of length by developing an extraordinary short game.

Although he is known for his teaching skills, it was Johnny’s knowledge of the short game that greatly improved his students at all levels. Short game guru Paul Runyan has proclaimed Johnny the greatest bunker player of all time.

Johnny Revolta, story

Johnny took a position on the ball with both feet turned slightly to the left. With the weight shifted slightly to the left. He held the shorter grip for better feel by contracting his upper arms slightly towards his torso (remind you of Justin Rose and Will Zalatoris’s t-shirt stuck under his armpit?).

His wrist action was very neutral, as he made sure to keep the grip in front of the ball (a need less necessary with today’s wedges, equipped with bounces and grinds) and skimmed the ground. Johnny used the same mechanics that we still use today in the bunker.

Perhaps the most important element of the bunker is the way Johnny cuts the target line while keeping the clubface open. His forward swing is a bit shorter than what we see today in the modern pro swing, but otherwise it’s essentially the same.

Johnny wrote in his book “Short cuts to better golf” that “the most important thing in golf is the finish: a high finish is the result of a full backswing and a good crossover” The waggle is nothing more than a little movement in preparation for the swing.

It arises from the need to relax the muscles, to feel the weight of the stick and to give impetus so that the complete gesture is carried out. Interestingly, the great Ben Hogan adopted Johnny Revolta’s waggle. Revolta changed the waggle to suit the hit.

For example, to produce more spin on a green after hitting a bunker, Revolta would produce many short, repeated shots. During his career, he won 18 tournaments on the PgaTour, winning the Pga Championship in 1935, when the tournament was still played with the match play formula, beating Tommy Armor 5-4 in the final.


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