Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Bobby Jones on Delaying the Hit

In his chapter on timing the swing, in his book Bobby Jones on Golf, Bobby Jones identified the right hand as the chief culprit in ruining the timing of the golf swing. Most golfers are too quick to engage the right hand and side, and neglect utilizing their left side properly. Bobby goes on to further explain the importance of the left side and hand in the right-handed golf swing in the next chapter entitled Delaying the Hit. He wrote:

    "Whenever you see a player (who is apparently going along easily) blow wide open under the strain of competition, the chances are that the most immediate cause of the detonation is an unruly right hand, a hand that has gotten out of control because of the anxiety and nervousness of the player.
     I think I can say truthfully that I am always on guard against misapplication of right-hand power, but that even then it gets me. For a right-handed person it is, of course, perfectly natural to want to do everything with that hand, and it becomes necessary not to call it in when it is needed, but to keep it out when it is not. The consciousness of exclusion rather than of use. To my mind, the right hand is absolutely useless, except as a steadying factor, throughout the entire backswing, and nearly half of the downstroke, or hitting stroke. Its first real use comes when it assumes command for the actual delivery of the blow.
     If we allow the right hand to take hold at the very beginning of the downstroke, we are hitting too soon. The swing has not a chance to get started in the right groove, and the power is apt to be spent too soon; the wrists will have been uncocked before stored-up energy can be expended upon the ball.
     Of course, so long as we swing a golf club with two hands, in order to swing it properly, both hands must be used correctly. But with most players the effort must be to subdue the right at certain important stages, rather than to direct it to positive activity. It has been said that the correct swing is a wholly artificial, unnatural procedure. In the sense that a naturally right-handed person must force the left side and discourage the right, this is certainly true.
     This alone is sufficient reason for stressing the left side most strongly; since it must be used, and yet it is unnatural to use it, it requires more conscious direction than the right. A right-handed person, swinging a right-handed golf club, will not need to think about hitting with his right hand; he will need only to make certain that he does not begin to use it too soon, or incorrectly. On the other hand, if he does not think about moving his left side, it will surely get in the way, and gum things up."

I had one golf lesson around 1969 in England. That lesson involved me hitting balls using only my left hand. At the time, I thought it was about the most useless thing I could imagine practising; being very much right-hand dominant. Little did I know. Consider what Bobby Jones now wrote about the swing:

    "My conception of the correct swing is built around the one thought of making the left side move, both in taking the club back and in swinging it through. This is the main idea. The use of the right hand, though important, is yet a subheading. It has to be thought of only in order to keep it from overpowering the left, and asserting itself in a disastrous way."

So, I now routinely practise swinging the club with my left hand. It may seem an unnatural thing for a right-handed person to do; but just try to swing the club with the left hand and, if you find it difficult to do, you will get an inkling as to whether you might be letting your right side mess things up in your golf swing. Most of the people I've convinced to try it are quick to realize that they need to train that left side. As for the right hand and side, it doesn't usually need to be trained. It only needs to be restrained.