Book Review: The Anatomy of Greatness by Brandel Chamblee

There is a plethora of golf instruction information and quick tips out there — books, magazines, websites, tweets, YouTube videos — you name it. I typically ignore most of it. Why? Well,  how does someone who has never watched me swing a golf club know what I need to do to improve?

This is why I stick mostly to personal lessons and discussion with my instructor when it comes to physical improvements to my golf swing. It keeps it simple and non-conflicting.

While the mess of golf instructional tips out there may end up helping a small percentage of golfers, most are inundated by more information about the golf swing than they know what to do with. Their swings end up being a patchwork of compensations as they jump from tip to tip.

To make matters worse, there are now more methods, theories and ideologies about the golf swing than ever before. It’s almost becoming as convoluted as politics.

However, there are some quality instructional books out there which have caught my eye and I couldn’t help but pick it up. Tiger’s How I Play Golf and Harvey Penick’s Little Red Book are a couple of examples. The latest golf book I couldn’t help but succumb to was The Anatomy of Greatness written by polarizing Golf Channel writer and analyst Brandel Chamblee.

I have to say, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The Anatomy of Greatness by Brandel Chamblee

Type of Book

It is instructional but also historical in a sense.  Brandel illustrates and explains how the swings of the most accomplished golfers of all time have many fundamental commonalities, despite their personal idiosyncrasies. It’s an easy and approachable read. I opted to read it on an e-reader which worked out just fine.

The Anatomy of Greatness by Brandel Chamblee

In a Nutshell 

I will take a quote from the author: “When asked about this book, I have always said it was an instructional book but it was not I who was doing the instructing but rather the greatest players of all time.” — Brandel Chamblee

Who should read this book

Anyone interested in broadening their knowledge of golf swing fundamentals — the same fundamentals used by the most accomplished players to date.

Final thoughts

What was both comforting and enlightening about this book was the consistency of the underlying fundamentals in which the best players in the history of our great game used to achieve their greatness. Starting with the grip and the setup right through to the back swing, transition, and down swing.

As Brandel stated himself, this book isn’t him teaching us how to swing the golf club, but a vehicle for us to learn from the best players in history — Byron Nelson, Ben Hogan, Walter Hagen, Jack Nicklaus, and Tiger Woods, just to name a few. Players who excelled with inferior equipment and, until Tiger came along, inferior bodies to the best players of today.

The book doesn’t suggest to swing exactly like Jack Nicklaus or Tiger Woods. At the end of the day, like Arnie used to say, you still have to “swing your swing”.

However, the book does arm us with clear and consistent information to help build a library of swing knowledge to draw from. Information you can use to pick your instructor’s brain and information which will give you the confidence to discuss and debate modern swing theories.

In reality, the most fit and talented golfers of this generation can probably find ways to be great under any swing philosophy – whether modern or old school. What this book made me question is how average golfers are influenced by the influx of modern swings, and if they would be better off reverting to or being taught older school techniques. Amateurs who don’t have the time to practice all day and be freakishly fit and limber. Will they have more success trying to swing with a rigid lower body like Jason Day, or a swing with a big hip turn and leg action like Jack Nicklaus which provides them more time and space to square the club face?

I’m not a golf swing expert so I don’t have the answers, but it’s a question worth asking. If nothing else, The Anatomy of Greatness is an interesting and entertaining read, and one that will likely go down as a classic.

Happy golfing (and reading)


9 thoughts on “Book Review: The Anatomy of Greatness by Brandel Chamblee

    1. Hey Linley,

      It’s always interesting to hear what Brandel will say next. His book is interesting and definitely worth the read. I’ll be interested to hear what you think.


  1. Chamblee plagiarized the material for his book from Kelvin Miyahira. For anyone that doesn’t believe me, look up Kelvin’s articles, look at the dates they were posted, and you will come to the same conclusion.

    1. Hey Dave,

      I have never heard of Kelvin, but I will look it up. Thanks for the comment.


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