Saturday, 25 February 2017

Bobby Locke Learned Three Important Things From Bobby Jones

I discovered a new, old book, entitled The Methods of Golf's Masters, by Dick Aultman and Ken Bowden. I have maintained that the people we should be learning from are the best players in history; many of whom are, or were, the best teachers. Operating on Lee Trevino's theory about teachers; when he said he would never take a lesson from anyone who couldn't beat him; I think it makes sense to listen to those golfers who have been able to put theory into practice. 

Much of the information talks about the swings of the Masters. But, as Tom Weiskopf wrote about the book, it goes beyond simply swing mechanics. Weiskopf wrote: "Really gave me a great insight into the games and personalities of the stars I've never had the chance to know personally. Every average golfer will learn a lot from the expert analysis of these great players' swings, but what fascinated me was their mental attitudes. It's amazing, for example, how many of them place such emphasis on relaxation."

Bobby Jones advised golfers to fight physical tension wherever it may be found, believing that muscular tension was the enemy of the golf swing. It's interesting to note that the wonderful South African player, Bobby Locke patterned his game after Bobby Jones. Locke is quoted as having said the following on that subject:

    "When I was thirteen, my dear old dad gave me Bobby Jones' book on golf, and he said to me, 'Son, here is the finest golfer in the world, and I want you to learn how to play from his book. A lot of people are going to try to help you, but let it go in one ear and out the other. You just model your game on Bobby Jones and you will be a fine player.' So that's what I did when I started, and what I have done all my life."

It worked out pretty well for Bobby Locke; modelling his swing and his game on that of Bobby Jones. And, besides swinging the club easily, what did Locke learn? He learned to play the game with what the book describes as a "benign imperturbablity." 

From Jones, he learned three important things that had nothing to do with the golf swing. As the book says:

    "Very early in life he (Bobby Locke) had learned three things: one, that physical relaxation or at least lack of muscular tension is essential to playing good golf shots; two, that the game can be played only one shot at a time; and three, that there will always be an element of luck in golf."

Knowing these things helped Locke avoid, as much as possible, muscular and mental tension. He swung within himself. He played one shot at a time, avoiding getting caught up in worries about things beyond his control. And he recognized that a certain a mount of luck was involved in winning or losing, so he didn't beat himself up.

We might not be tempted to try to swing the club like Bobby Jones, or Bobby Locke. But we would all do well to copy their mental approach.