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Sunday, 13 November 2016

The Most Important Thing a Golfer Can Learn

What is the most important thing a golfer must learn? Some people might say, "A good grip." Others might say, "A sound swing." Or, perhaps you might argue that good judgement, or effective course management is the most important thing to learn. To get to the highest level in the game, you might believe that patience is most important. 

All those things are important to learn. But Bobby Jones, in his book, Golf is my Game, tells us what is most important. In his chapter entitled Striking the Ball, Bobby wrote:

    "This will be the most important chapter of this book. It will describe the most useful learning you will ever acquire as a golfer. You may gain knowledge from the mere reading of this chapter that will help you in the playing of every golf shot you make for the rest of your life. This knowledge can make you a better golfer overnight.
     If you are a beginner, this chapter will start you off on the road to a correct understanding of the nature of golf. If you are an average golfer, it will give you the means of deciding upon the club to use and the shot to play on the basis of reasoned judgement, rather than guesswork. If you are a better than average golfer, it will broaden your perception of the possibilities in the game so that you may become a player of imagination and resourcefulness. If you are weary of being told to concentrate without having knowledge of what you should concentrate on, this is it."

Bobby Jones was not just blowing smoke when he wrote this chapter. He was certainly not someone who engaged in hyperbole. He was not one of those guys who prefaced his teaching with absurd promises like How to hit it solid every time. Bobby was a golfing prodigy, who played the game at the very highest level at a very young agr. By the age of twenty eight he had won thirteen Major championships, including all four in the same year. He was arguably the greatest player of all time. 

But Bobby was not just a great player. He was an ardent student of the game. He studied other great players. He analyzed his own game and learned what it took to become the very best. He did all of this as a part-time golfer who earned a degree in mechanical engineering from Georgia Tech, a degree in literature from Harvard, and a license to practise law. He was a golfing genius who possessed the intelligence to really put it all together as far as the game of golf was concerned. 

Consider what he concluded in providing, what he considered, the most important knowledge a golfer could acquire:

    "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 movement in a prescribed sequence, nor to look pretty 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 that all 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."

This is the most important knowledge any golfer can acquire. If you haven't done so, I would highly recommend you read the second chapter of Bobby's book, Golf is my Game. If you don't have a copy of the book, I have covered it in some detail in my featured article entitled The Wisdom of Bobby Jones: Striking the Ball. It could lierally make you a better player overnight.