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10 Nov

As instructed in the Presentation Edition of Rights and Wrongs of Golf, by Bobby Jones, 1935.

Bobby Jones FinishYour Address Position:  Bobby notes that ease, comfort, and relaxation are above all else will determine a player’s ability to start the swing with a smooth motion, one void of breakdowns inherent from tense and muscle-strained force.  To go a bit farther Bobby states, “the player should feel himself alert, sensitive to impulses, and ready to move in either direction.”  He continues ” The other point is that the toes of both feet should

be turned slightly outward, this is done in order to make equally easy the turning of the hips in either direction.  To point the right foot to the front (toward the target, inward) would tend to block or restrict the turning to the right (takeaway), placement of the left inward, away from the target would affeYoung Bobby Jones Golf Swingct the (hips) in the through motion.”

Avoid Uncomfortable Posture: It is always better at this point to be one’s natural self than to make an effort to look like someone else.  Any posture that feels uncomfortable is certain to produce unwanted results.  “There is no need for him (player) to set or brace, for there is nothing to brace against”, says Jones.

I personally heard the following “Jones-Tip” when I first learned the game, I was given specific instruction… this same instruction offered in Jones’ book; “If one could conceive that he were standing naturally with a club in his hands, engaged in ordinary conversation, and then he bent over enough to ground the club behind a ball, not too far away, the resulting posture would be quite good.”

“The body has been erect and is now bent over just enough to reach the ball, which is near enough so that this can be done with the arms hanging almost vertically from the shoulders.  The knees are slightly bent so that their movement can be free, weight equally divided between both feet, which are not abnormally spread apart.”

Jones further contrasts proper technique against a player who “sets his body”, with locked knees and a wide stance, stating “his legs are useless, his feet are so far apart his legs cannot turn and the arms and wrists are as lengths of wood.  He is making of his game hard work.”

Location of the ball: “The swing is greatly simplified but placing the ball forward, about opposite the instep of the left foot for here the player is sufficiently behind it so that he can get into position to hit without complicating his backswing by the addition of a shift to the right.”  

Forward Press: Use a short backswing to start backswing moving smoothly.  “The one idea for the golfer to keep always in his mind is that when playing a shot, his job is to swing the club head.  If he does this, hitting the ball will take care of itself.  And the place to start swinging is at the very beginning, as soon as the movement of the stroke gets underway.”
“From an easy, relaxed position at address the first movement in the swings of all first class golfers is directed forward, or to the left in the case of a right handed player.  The movement is regarded by some as a mannerism and non essential, but there can be no doubt that it serves a useful purpose in breaking down whenever tension may have entered the address position, and in providing a sort of wind up for a smooth takeoff.  This movement is usually referred to as the forward press.  Jones continues, “It does not involve, as so many make it do, any independent movement of the hands because the common tendency of golfers of all classes is to swing a club mainly with their hands and arms, neglecting to make sufficient use of the powerful muscles of the waist and back. It becomes a matter of the first importance that the conception should be that the swing originates in the center of the body, in the region about the base of the spine.”  As I think of Jones’ advice, it seems to me that this is a fundamental instruction principle, one that most modern era instructions still adhere too!

Hips Move First: “The forward press is accomplished by a movement of the hips a short and sometimes very quick turn towards the left handled easily by the responsive legs. The hands press, or rather are pressed forward and the wrists are pressed backward.Bobby Jones Backswing In reality, it is a short wind up so that the backswing can begin moving smoothly.”  Wow, that is truly insightful and clear instruction from one of the greatest players of all-time!  It is also not frequently offered to golf students, I’m not sure why …it seems like its being kept a secret if you ask me.

“The two common mistakes, see illustrations ratios 1 and 2, page 11, at this stage are; one, picking the club up with the right hand in a way that prevents the extension of the left arm and carries the club head to the outside of its proper arc; and two, whipping the club around the knees by an independent movement of the hands and wrists.  The latter fault flattens the arc too much, and causes the head and shoulders ultimately to move back from their correct location.”  

Here some more illusive advice that suddenly seems to make a lot of sense; “It is very helpful to think of slinging the club to the top, to originate the movement in the center of the body, by executing a simple turn of the hips without any sidewise movement of the head and shoulders.  Communicate this movement to the club through the left arm and hand, allowing the right hand to rest lightly upon the club until it is needed, halfway through the backswing.”  FANTASTIC!

When the left grip should become firm: “If the beginning has been made correctly, the clubhead will have moved to the position shown in illustration 3, before any change in the direction of the shaft will become noticeable. As the hands are pressed Bobby Jones Top of Swingforward by the slight twist to the left now they are move backward at the beginning of the reverse turn. The grip of both hands, and the (body) joints remaining relaxed, hands past their location at address before they actually picked up the weight of the club, in slow motion the definite impression that the club is being dragged away from the ball.”

He notes that “this is the first time the grip of the left hand becomes firm, and the club begins to move at the point illustrated page eleven.”  Jones says “in illustration 3 the lag has just been caught up and club, arms, and hands are in relation as they were at the beginning.”

Extended left arm requisite of good form: Contributes accuracy, consistency. “Good form in any physical activity must be valued in terms of efficiency; the efficiency of the thermal engine for example is measured by the ratio of the work done by the engine to the heat energy supplied to it.”  To compare “an efficient golf stroke must be measured in the same way, by the ratio of the work done on the ball to the amount of physical energy used up in the swinging.  The expert golfer drives far with little apparent effort because of the high rate of efficiency of his performance.  The duffer, though strains himself to the utmost, falls far behind the cause, so much of the energy expended goes expended and to waste.”

Efficiency depends on three things: “High rate of efficiency, and hence good form in golf depends upon three things; the development of the greatest possible (1) club head speed and (2) solid contact with whatever energy or power the player canBobby Jones Golf Instruction supply, and (3) directing the blow along the (target or swing) line which it is intended -- and of course consistency in performing.
Left Arm: “For some persons a straight left arm is a physical impossibility. So let us say that “an extended left arm” it is one of the prime requisites of good form.  In many ways it contributes to clubhead speed, accurate contact and consistency of performance, the three Components of the efficiency rate.”

Backswing: “The backward movement is merely a means of storing up power to be used in the hitting, but to increase the amount of this stored up energy is of first importance. We have seen that the beginning was made in the hips in order to ensure that the body would at least be started.  Now with the club having completed about half of its backward travel, the arm has become almost straight, and is pushing the club as far back as it can comfortably go. The arc of the swing is thus made very broad, so that the space and time for adding speed to the clubhead coming down to impact will be as great as possible (editor’s note, often referred by today’s instructors as “width in the swing”).”

“The player who allows his left arm to bend perceptibly is sacrificing breadth of arc and power. His swing, because it is not as wide as it could be, is that much away from the ideal efficiency.”

Keep right arm subdued engulf stroke: “Renders assistance in raising club only when the left has been pushed out to full extension.  In the correct golf stroke the left arm becomes fully extended soon after the backswing gets under way.  But since golf is a two-handed game, what should the right arm be doing this while?  Keep it out, in a sense this is good advice.  That is, to try to keep it out. For the normal right handed golfer is likely to suffer more from what he does with his right hand, by trying to keep it subdued he has his best chance to use it properly.”
Bobby Jones Finish Swing“In the correct method, the right arm above the elbow is still touching lightly against the side when the backswing has been more than half completed. It should never be clamped tightly against the ribs. When allowed to move very far away from the side, it results in a swing that is cramped and far too flat, while a cramped position shuts the face and makes it impossible for a true swing from the inside.”

Keep right relaxed during the early stages: “The best means of handling the right is by maintaining it completely relaxed during the address and in the early stages of the backswing. This is not that difficult to do if one thinks of a light grip and of pushing the club back with the left side. At the point the right hand has begun to render assistance in raising the club to its top position, the left arm had already been pushed out to its full extension and then the hip turn had gotten nicely underway. In no case should the right hand be allowed to pick the club up from its first location behind the ball.”  Jones states, some instructors use the expression “let the right elbow ride the right hip.”  This is quite a good way of putting it, as long as one understands that this does not mean to hug the arm close. The perfectly relaxed right arm, accompanied by a correct turn, will ride the right hip naturally and comfortably as the turn progresses.”

(Link to Book Review - Contemporary, Bobby Jones)

Last modified on Monday, 28 January 2013 02:33
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Scott’s Profile: A native Northern Californian with a deep love for pacific coast golf courses.  Favorites: Olympic Club, Spyglass, and Pebble Beach.  First golf memory: Introduced to golf at age 3 with a wooden shafted putter (while on a family vacation to Calgary),the putter didn’t make it home in one piece – broken after chasing a gopher down a hole.  Inspirational golf personality: as a kid captivated by many superstars of the 70s and 80s, ultimate inspiration was Arnold Palmer.  Current passion in golf: a slowed competitive ambition, and a love for learning, exploring and appreciating the finer points in golf. Favorite golf activity: traveling abroad and meeting new people, share a love for the game, and of course exploring both new and classic golf courses.  Hole-in-one count: 6. Handicap: a debatable 1.0 index.  College: USF

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  • Jack of Trade

    what would you rather do, study the successful career of say Bobby Jones or analyze some of the tour stars of our current era... for me there is no comparison. Do the math and you will realize that what Jones accomplished, how challenging it must have been for him, he's an incredible legend of golf that will remain so long after today's quasi legends!

    Jack of Trade Friday, 21 December 2012 00:08 Comment Link
  • Sam Addison

    All I know is he was a legend that may still be one of the best to play the game. It's like saying baseball's Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb weren't as relevant as the b-ballers of today! He deserves all the credit he gets. In fact, he battled with great fear of crowds and somehow managed to shine under all that pressure. Any player would do well to study his methods and learn from them.

    Sam Addison Monday, 17 December 2012 20:15 Comment Link
  • Geraldo Martinez

    Tuah, even today we get to watch a guy on the PGA tour with a major under his belt and he was self taught - Bubba!

    Geraldo Martinez Monday, 17 December 2012 20:11 Comment Link
  • Tuah

    Back when he was a young man he must had admired young golfers like Ouimet who had such succuss. I wonder if that helped him choose golf over baseball and tennis which he played before sticking wiht golf. I think as a self-taught player, you got to marvbel at what he could do. But today I don't think kids can play with such success self taught. Never to take lessons, only imitating the local golf pro?

    Tuah Monday, 17 December 2012 20:08 Comment Link
  • Thames T. Morris

    Is there any books in your golf library that tells of Jones' theories about weight shift and balance? I have problem not getting my weight onto my right side...

    Thames T. Morris Sunday, 04 November 2012 01:55 Comment Link
  • Graham P.

    Bobby Jones is the greatest player of ALL TIME!

    Graham P. Sunday, 04 November 2012 01:11 Comment Link
  • Jim Agathon

    Personally I watched my dad whenever he spoke of the legendary Jones, his face would glow in envy! I love these tips, and tried them out today - "Communicate this movement to the club through the left arm " - that's gold. Thanks GGH for sharing this information for all to benefit. I'll check back in a few weeks and update you on my progress. I can tell you this tip instantly made my iron contact much improved. (I think I'll share it with the head pro)

    Jim Agathon Saturday, 03 November 2012 23:07 Comment Link

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