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Friday, 21 August 2015

Should You Hit Hard?

In 1965, Julius Boros had a well-known book published, entitled, Swing Easy, Hit Hard.  Three years later he became the oldest person to win a Major At 48 years, 4months and 18 days old.  I think it would be a great addition to your golfing library if you happen to find a copy.  Boros was renowned for his smooth swing that produced what appeared to be effortless power.

My father's great memory of Boros was having the privilege of using the porta-potty after him at the Masters one year.  True story, though I suppose it really isn't all that relevant here.  It's funny the things you remember.

In chapter one, Mr. Boros begins his book by writing: "People often ask me, 'How do you hit the ball so far when you swing so easy?'  The answer is simple. I hit hard."

Almost everyone I talk to who has watched the pros play says the same thing. They notice that the pros seem to be swinging so easy, and the ball takes off like a rocket.  Very few pros appear to lash at the ball.  It seems to be all about timing, rhythm, and tempo.

But what about hitting hard?  Bobby Jones devoted a chapter to the subject in his book, Bobby Jones on Golf.  He wrote:

"The more one sees of golf, the harder it becomes to make anything out of the various theories about how hard or gently a ball should be struck.  We hear that 'pressing' is a thing to be avoided; but when we determine to avoid it, the first thing we know, some kind friend will inform us that we are steering the ball, and that we should hit it harder.

Truly, it is a difficult thing to know just what to do.  There is unquestionably a world of grief ahead for the man who continually goes all-out after every shot.  Extremely hard hitting necessarily involves considerable sacrifice of control, often with no increase in length, because the ball is not squarely struck; but there is equal danger when the player pulls his punch, easing up the stroke in an effort to guide the ball down the middle of the fairway."

Bobby went on to tell the story of playing with a fellow at Pebble Beach named Phillips Finlay.  Apparently, Finley was famous for being a big hitter, and when he was having a bad day with his driver, he often heard from others that he must be pressing, or swinging too hard.  He had bought into this criticism to the point that, when he was hitting it poorly, he would find himself easing up.  Bobby suggested that he would probably be better off if "he would take a good healthy wallop instead."  Sure enough, this advice seemed to work for him.

After telling this story, Bobby went on to conclude:

"This does not indicate by any means that slugging should be the order of things.  It shows merely that a conception of hitting that will cause a player to hold-up, or fail to go through with the stroke, is entirely wrong--probably it will cause more trouble than the other in the long run.  In driving, it has always been my idea that one should hit as hard as he can without upsetting the balance of the body and the timing of the stroke.  Pressing causes trouble mainly by speeding up the backstroke.  If that can be made slowly, and the downward stroke started leisurely, there may be any amount of effort thereafter without cause for worry."

So, there you have it.  Julius Boros and Bobby Jones would seem to agree; we need to swing easy, or slowly and leisurely, until it's time to hit the ball.  If we can maintain our rhythm and tempo, until it's time to strike the ball, then we should feel free to hit hard.  Swing Easy, and Hit Hard.