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Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Bobby Jones on Playing the Woods

While reading Bobby Jones' chapter on playing the woods, I was struck by two things in particular. Firstly, Bobby played the ball well forward in his stance--off the arch of his left foot. The second was that he generally attempted to strike the ball squarely in the back, rather than attempting to hit down on it. This, he felt, gave his wood shots the sort of penetrating flight, and run out after landing, that he looked for in shots that were essentially for distance.

Bobby once again also stressed the importance of a full body turn in his swing; as well as finishing the swing, or letting go. He wrote: "My main fault as a youngster, and the one I have to guard against now most carefully, was stopping the left side before impact; failing to let go, I should call it. Whatever was the reason for that failure in the old days, before I knew what caution was, it would seem that an excess of care is responsible now, as I usually commit this particular crime at a most inopportune juncture, as when confronted with a narrow fairway. When I let go and hit hard the ball usually goes pretty straight."

After taking some pains to describe his swing, it was interesting to note how Bobby concluded his chapter. He wrote:

    "It seems fearfully complicated, this trying to take a swing to pieces and see what makes it tick. I'd hate to try to learn to play golf synthetically. These attempts at analysis are quite puzzling enough. But it has been deeply interesting to me, in my feeble efforts at analysis, to encounter so many times, and in so many ways, the factor of body-turn in all shots.
     One bit of earnest admonition. Stewart Maiden maintains that he cannot think of any of these details, or of any other details, during the execution of a shot--that is, if the shot is to come off. He adds that he does not believe anybody else can think of these things or other details and perform a successful shot. I find this to be the case in my own play. I have to do all my thinking as I prepare to play. Once the swing is under way, the only thing I can think of is hitting the ball. To attempt to think of anything else is the most certain method of courting absolute ruin."

Interesting advice for those of us who like to think mechanical thoughts during our swing. Once we start swinging, our only thought should be of hitting the ball. My wife, of course, would say,"What else would you think about?"