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Thursday, 4 August 2016

Smoothness and Rhythm

The one thing we can say about all good players, regardless of how they actually swing the golf club, is that they possess excellent timing and rhythm.  Some of golf's greats have swung the club so smoothly, and with such a relaxed, fluid grace that we can't help but admire and wish we could imitate their action.  Granted, others, like Arnold Palmer or Lee Trevino, seem to have swung the club harder and more violently, and might tend to be viewed as hitters more than swingers.  Regardless, all good players must have great timing and rhythm to consistently strike the ball well.

When writing about timing and rhythm in his book Golf is my Game, Bobby Jones provides us with some excellent information that I think is worth remembering. Once again, in Bobby's inimitable way, he stresses what is vital to the golf swing and what is not.  He wrote:

    "Apart from the intention to deliver the blow in a proper way, there is nothing more important to the golf swing than that it should have the qualities of smoothness and rhythm, and I can conceive of no reason why it should not possess both these qualities so long as it is not interfered with by the conscious effort to pass by rote through a series of prescribed positions."

When you consider this opening paragragh in Bobby's chapter called Timing and Rhythm, we see two very important points being made.  The first, and most important, point is that the swing must be made with the intention to deliver the blow in a proper way.  It always comes back to the strike.  Our swing must be made with the definite intent to strike the ball in the correct way to produce the shot we are trying to hit.  Without this intention we are in trouble, because the prettiest, smoothest swing in the world is of no value if it doesn't deliver the club to the ball in the correct way.

The second important point Bobby makes is that thinking about mechanics, or trying to swing by rote, or by the numbers, is the surest way to interfere with our natural timing and rhythm.  It is actually quite amazing what we, as humans, are capable of doing with a bit of practice, provided we are focussed on the right thing.  The surest way to hit a crummy shot is to think about whether or not you are keeping your left arm straight, or whether you are bracing your right knee, or whatever, when you should be thinking about striking the golf ball.  Sounds obvious, but it obviously isn't when you consider what is going through the average player's mind when he's swinging the club.  Often the strike is the last thing on the golfer's mind--particularly if they've just had a lesson or read the latest tip in Golf Digest before they teed it up.

I hate to keep repeating myself, but Bobby Jones was not only one of the greatest players to have ever played this game, he was also, for my money, the greatest teacher of the game--even if he never considered himself one.  If you get the chance, read Bobby's books.  They contain pure golfing gold.