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Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Bobby Jones on the Golf Swing Now and Then

In Golf is my Game, Bobby Jones dealt with the question of whether the golf swing had changed from his day to the present, which was 1959.  I find his take on it to be very interesting.  He wrote:

  "With all these changes in equipment and golf-course upkeep, it is not unnatural that the question should often occur, "What changes have come about in method?  Is there a modern method, a modern golf swing which is essentially different from that of twenty-five or thirty years ago?"  Actually, I think not, and I believe that so long as manis constructed as he is--which seems to be a fairly reasonable prospect for the predictable future--the order of the movements necessary to the complete, sound golf swing are not likely to change.  In two respects only am I able to find any difference, and these are not of the nature which can be called fundamental.
   The first difference I note is in the length of the backswing, and perhaps in the speed of it as well.  In my day and before, the virtues of a long, leisurely swing had come to be fairly well accepted.  Writers and players alike extolled the value of rhythm.
   I still think the long, leisurely swing is best for the average player.  I think he should always try to make certain that he gets the club back far enough and that his change of direction at the top of the swing should take place in a leisurely manner, because nothing can so upset his timing and execution as hurry at either of these points.
   If there is a new method in golf, it seems to involve a more careful, even meticulous 'sighting' of the shot.  While we still have many graceful, comfortable-looking players, there are a number who have the appearance of being excrutiatingly stiff.  In some cases the traditional waggle of the club designed to promote smoothness of movement has been replaced by a waggle of the player's behind as he strives to place himself in precise alignment for the delivery of the blow.
   Some of these players are very effective.  Once they have settled into a saisfactory position, the quick, convulsive stroke seems to send the ball very straight indeed towards the objective.  But the method involves a complete disregard of the amount of time consumed, and so is most trying upon the nerves and patience of any who may be watching.  I must admit that I do not find the performance of these players pleasing to the eye, even though the figures they produce may leave little to be desired.
   It is not my intention to imply by what I have written that there has been no improvement among golfers themselves in the past thirty years.  Indeed, I should regard this as very sad if this were the case.  Men have learned to run faster and to jump higher and farther.  It would be strange if they had not also learned to play better golf.  Every generation learns from those that have gone before, and so progress is made."

So, there you have it from the old Master.  The golf swing has not fundamentally changed over the years, and will not likely change so long as humans are constructed as they are.  There have been some alterations in method.  Some of which Bobby found hard on his nerves and patience, and not very pleasing to the eye.  But, as he points out, golfers have improved over time.  And he would be sad had they not.  

Still, I love to watch the smooth swingers who step up to the ball and get on with it without all the fiddling and fussing.  I think, from what we've read, Bobby would certainly second that opinion.