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Tuesday, 5 January 2016

"Golf is Played by Striking the Ball with the Head of the Club"

My buddy Spiros was a good soccer player.  He took up golf late in life after his soccer playing days were over.  His swing is definitely not textbook.  In fact, from a purist standpoint, it probably leaves something to be desired.  But Spiros can hit some shots when he's in the mood.  He loves to hit cut shots, and hooks, and he even plays the old Philly-Mick-flopper whenever he can.  He loves to try to bend it like Beckham, or maybe Bubba.

While soccer and golf are perhaps only similar in the fact that both involve a ball, Spiros has put some of his soccer knowledge to good effect when playing golf.  He understands that the golf ball, when struck with the club, reacts much the same way the soccer ball does when kicked.  From his soccer experience he intuitively understands how the ball needs to be struck to make it bend.

Someone who has played tennis, or table tennis, will likely have a similar understanding of how to strike the golf ball to make it curve.  Striking the ball in the correct manner to produce the shot you desire is really what this game is all about, and experience playing any game involving a round ball will certainly help.

Bobby Jones, the great player who I constantly find myself referring to, in part because he was the best, and in part because, for me at least, he said it best, recognized how important understanding the strike was to playing good golf.  I am amazed, when I play with high handicappers how little they seem to understand about the strike.  Their mind is generally full of swing thoughts, but ask them how the ball needs to be struck, and you generally receive a blank stare.

In Golf is my Game, Bobby Jones wrote: "Golf is played by striking the ball with the head of the club.  The objective of the player is not to swing the club in a specified manner, nor to execute a series of complicated movements in a prescribed sequence, nor to look pretty while he is doing it, but primarily and essentially to strike the ball with the head of the club so that the ball will perform according to his wishes.  No one can play golf until he knows the many ways in which a golf ball can be expected to respond when it is struck in different ways.  If you think this should be obvious, please believe me when I assure you that I have seen many really good players attempt shots they should have known were impossible."

I have covered the information from Bobby Jones on how the ball must be struck in an article entitled "The Wisdom of Bobby Jones: Striking the Ball."  Bobby asserted that it was the "most useful learning you will ever acquire as a golfer...This knowledge can make you a better golfer overnight."  For those who have played soccer at a high level, like Spiros, this information might be relatively easy to grasp--even simple.  But for many of us, it takes a long time to learn and is all-too-often forgotten.  Bobby Jones felt that a careful review of the information he provided on striking the ball could literally make you a better player overnight.  

If you haven't checked it out, I would invite you to have a read of chapter two of Golf is my Game, by Bobby Jones.  If you haven't got the book, check out my article: The Wisdom of Bobby Jones: Striking the Ball.  For those of us who are presently snowbound, Bobby gives us something we can do to improve our game while inside, in the warm, without having to even swing a club.