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Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Natural Golf

It seems to me that the desire of every golfer should be to play the game naturally.  Clearly, if you watch the average golfer teeing off on the first tee, there is a lot of unnatural, or atleast uncomfortable stuff going on.  Many players look anything but natural as they prepare to strike a golf ball.

There is a teaching system called Natural Golf that purported to teach Moe Norman's golf swing.  This, despite the fact that I've heard Moe say that no one should try to copy his swing.  Moe freely admitted that to watch him address the ball he looked like he couldn't break 100, but when he struck the ball it was pure magic.

As one who has tried to grip and swing the club like Moe with mixed results, I can now say that in the end Natural Golf simply managed to lead golfers down the path of trying to adhere to a number of prescribed positions--like most other methods--and missed the point, which was how Moe struck the ball--what his clubhead was doing through the impact zone.  And Moe told us what his club was doing through impact.  He didn't keep it secret.  

Bobby Jones, as he often did, said it best when he wrote:

    "Even if a person may not have begun to play golf at an early age, I believe he may gain much by emphasizing naturalness in his learning processes.  I think he has the right to convince himself that an effective golf swing can be made without rigid adherence to a lrescribed routine and that there is room for differences in physical structure and calabilities... What the average golfer needs more than finespun theories is something that will give him a clearer conception of what he should try to do with the clubhead...When we speak of a sound method or good form, we mean nothing more than that the possessor of either has simplified his swing to the point where errors are less likely to creep in and he is able consistently to bring his club against the ball in the correct hitting position.  We think, talk, and write so much about the details of the stroke that we sometimes lose sight if the thing that is all-important--hitting the ball.  It is conceivable that a person could perform all sorts of contortions and yet bring the club into the correct relation to the ball at impact, in which case a good shot must result."

Lately, I have been going through contortions of my own because of my ailing back and neck.  I find myself incapable of swinging as I once did.  The fact is, however, so long as I remember to think about the strike, I can still find a way to hit a few solid shots.  I want to try from now on to play natural golf as defined by Bobby Jones, rather than try to use the Natural Golf method based on Moe Norman's swing.  Natural golf the Jones way is to try to find the most simple and effective way for you--the individual--to strike the ball as it must be struck, right in the back of the ball with the clubhead moving down the target line.

If you are just beginning, or struggling physically as I am, this may mean some experimenting.  I know I'm going to spend more time whacking that old tire.  Going and whacking the devil out of an old tire--or an impact bag if you prefer--really helps in this regard.  It gives instant feedback about impact and builds muscle. When you do it you find yourself miraculously freed from thinking about the swing.  Hopefully, from there you can take that freedom to the course or the range.

The last time I broke 70, which is a couple of months ago now, I had been working the Tire Drill.  All day, as I stood over the ball, I just thought, "I'm going to whack this ball just like I've been whacking that tire."  It worked a treat.  I obviously need to spend more time whacking the tire and less time thinking about my backswing.