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Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Bobby Jones on the Pendulum Stroke

In putting, as in the full swing, there is more than one way to skin a cat--do people really skin cats?  We probably see more variations in grip, stance, posture, and stroke in putting than in any other part of the game.  It seems to me, that there continues to be a number of people who consider the perfect stroke to be a pendulum stroke.

That being the case, I think it is worthwhile examining what Bobby Jones had to say on the subject in his book Bobby Jones on Golf:

"There is one thing I wish people would stop talking about and writing about, because I think it causes much confusion in the beginner's mind.  I refer to the theory of the pendulum putting stroke.  It has been described and expressed in different ways, but when boiled down, each demonstration resolves itself into a thing absolutely impossible of accomplishment so long as human beings are built as we know them.

Unquestionably, a pendulum-like golf club with an absolutely true face, swung precisely along the line of the putt and suspended from a point exactly over the ball, furnishes the ideal conception of accurate striking.  But so long as human toes stick out in front, and until a golf club turns into a croquet mallet and can be swung backward between the legs, there is little hope that this can be attained.  For the present at least, it seems to me far better that we strive to find some way to improve our performance, using the method more or less familiar to us all...

The important considerations in putting are that the putter should be faced properly when it strikes the ball, and that, as it strikes, it should be moving in the direction of the hole.  If these two requirements are met, it makes no difference in the world whether or not the club was faced properly or moved along the projected line of the putt throughout the backswing."

There you have it; this advice is from, almost unquestionably, the greatest player ever to play the game, who also happened to have a degree in mechanical engineering, not to mention a degree in English literature from Harvard, and was a lawyer to boot--Mrs. Jones didn't raise no fool.  So, it might be wise to forget trying to make a pendulum stroke so long as your toes stick out in front of your body.  Better just to pick your line and knock it in the hole with a stroke that pretty much resembles your golf swing--only shorter.

Makes perfect sense to me.  But then, what do I know?  Take it from Bobby Jones, who wielded his famous putter, Calamity Jane, with pretty fair success.