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i. --Ernest Jones before the \\'ar. 







[The view of the golf swing expressed in 

this book forms the subject of a series of 

articles contributed by Mr. Daryn Hammond 

to Golf Illustrated of America.] 

1-irst Published, April, 29, 1920 
Second Itnpi'cssiun, July, 30, 1920 


q 60 

H f$J 










V1I1. SOCKETING 1-9.1 






1. Ernest Jones before the War Frontispiece 

2. During the War 12 

3. To-day 12 

4. Down-swing. The body has turned on its ownl initia- 

tive 28 

5. The body has followed the lead of the hands 28 

6. The hands have started the club-head moving but the 

shoulders have not responded 28 

7. How not to grip the shaft 34 

8. Top of up-swing. The extension of the fingers has 

been overdone. Control has been sacrificed 34 

9. Top of up-swing. The fingers have not been allowed 

to extend. The "dead hand" position 34 

10. Top of up-swing. The second, third, and fourth 

fingers have extended, so giving elasticity to the 

swing 34 

11. The ideal finish of the shot. The second, third, and 

fourth fingers are extended to the same extent as in 

Fig. 10 36 

12. How the club is gripped 36 
i 3. Another view 36 

14. Note position of forefinger and thumb 36 

15. The line of the shaft across the left hand when the 

hand is opened after gripping the club as in Fig. 16 38 

1 6. A proper hold of the shaft 38 

17. The ideal grip 38 

1 8. The ideal grip 38 

19. Wrong position : left wrist bent outward 40 

20. Wrong position : left hand over-turned 40 

21. Correct position 40 

22. Left hand has not forced club-head back 40 

23. Proper action of left hand 40 

24. Quarter shot 44 

25. Half shot 44 

26. Full iron shot 44 

27. Corollary to Fig. 24 46 

28. Corollary to Fig. 25 48 

29. Corollary to Fig. 26 48 




30. Finish of short push shot 50 

31. Fi-nish of socketed approach 50 

32. Perfect finish of short iron shot. Contrast with Figs. 

30 and 3 i , and note how the club-head has been forced 

through 5 2 

33. How the blade of the iron should normally come on to 

the ball 54 

34. Another view of the type of shot shown in Fig. 32 54 

35. Straight position of wrist 56 

36. 37. Two movements of the wrist joint 66 

38. Straight position 68 

39, 40. Two other movements of the wrist joint 70 

41. Action of right wrist beginning up-swing 72 

42. The right wrist has bent as far as it will go 72 

43. Straight position of right wrist in follow through 72 

44. Left wrist bending in follow through 74 

45. Shows "give" of fingers in any flexible movement 

46. Figs. 46 and 47 exemplify again the essential "give" of 

the fingers 

47. Compare with Fig. 46 where the fingers have not 

"given" 78 

48. An ideally balanced position at the top of the up-swing 84 

49. An ideally balanced position at the finish of the shot 86 

50. The old-fashioned up-swing : exuberant, yet con- 

trolled. A slashing and powerful movement I 12 

51. Clumsiness and lack of control i 12 

52. Good as far as it goes i 14 

53. A frequent sight on the links 116 

54. A trifle too careful i 16 

55. Compare with Fig. 50 118 

56. The socketing position par excellence 124 

57. An ideal finish 126 

58. The push shot 128 
159. Note the delicacy and freedom of the finish of this iron 

shot 128 

60. The finish of a firm iron shot 130 

61. Two perfect iron shots. Note the essential similarity 

of the positions I ^2 

62. No suspicion of stiffness or rigidity 132 
63 Finis 134 




" WHAT is wrong with the teaching of golf ?" 
asks a writer in the Daily Express. 

" That there is something wrong with it/' 
he goes on, " is realized by all people who 
attempt to play golf, and by all those who 
watch them doing it. 

" Undoubtedly golf is a difficult game, and 
undoubtedly it attracts a large proportion of 
devotees whose only qualification for playing it 
is their devotion. But it is not on these 
grounds alone that one can explain the pathetic 
failure of the average golfer's life, or the tragi- 
comedy that is always being enacted by golfing 
contortionists over the links of the world. One 
must seek other causes. One must consider, 
not only the subject and the pupil, but the 

" Broadly speaking, the teachers of golf are 
either professional golfers or enthusiastic 

The Golf Swing 

amateurs. In the main, the professional golfer 
knows how to play golf, but not how to teach it ; 
and in the main the enthusiastic amateur knows 
neither how to teach it nor how to play it. 

" It is one of the characteristics of golf that 
every exponent of it, no matter how immature 
his knowledge, no matter how spurious his 
methods, has moments of exaltation in which 
he is convinced that he has discovered the true 
secret of the golf swing, and that he must at 
once proclaim his discovery to the world at 
large. Probably what he has discovered is 
some bad trick which, combined with certain 
other bad tricks (constituting what he is pleased 
to call his swing), succeeds in giving him greater 
length or greater steadiness for a while. 
Thereupon he rushes into print. Whereupon 
some other golfer, whose own box of tricks 
has gone unutterably to pieces, ingeniously 
works the new artifice into his golfing system, 
and emerges temporarily triumphant not, 
however, because of the thing which he has 
taken pains to acquire, but because of the 
confidence (ill-founded though it may be) with 
which that thing has for the time being endowed 



him. And so the process goes on, in an ever- 
widening circle. Then the original prophet 
discovers that what he fondly imagined to be 
illumination is really hallucination; but even 
now his impulse to kick himself is arrested by 
some fresh flash of inspiration, obviously, un- 
mistakably the real thing this time, and off he 
goes again. . . . He is a dear, human, lovable 
fellow, but he is a deadly foe to good golf. 

" It is another of the characteristics of golf 
that the ability to teach it does not necessarily 
flow from the ability to play it ; the champion 
golfer has probably enunciated at least as much 
false doctrine as the enthusiastic amateur. It 
should be borne in mind that the professional 
golfer has always lived in an atmosphere of 
golf; to him, indeed, golf is ' second nature' 
a matter of instinct. He has a trained hand, 
but he has not a trained mind. What happens ? 
He is asked to explain how he executes a 
particular shot ; in a word, he is asked to 
explain how he does a thing which to him is 
instinctive, a problem which might well harass 
even the most highly trained mind; and it is 
not surprising that the professional should 


The Golf Swing 

flounder. It would, indeed, be surprising if he 
did not flounder. 

" The floundering is naturally worst when he 
attempts the explanation in writing ; for in the 
first place he has not the art of writing, and in 
the second place he is unable to help out the 
explanation by an actual demonstration of the 
shot. The accidental is mistaken for the 
essential, the responsive for the initiatory, 
coexistence for causation, the sign for the thing 
signified. The results are seen in a bewildering 
mass of print, both in magazine articles and in 
book form ; and they are reflected in the 
grotesque performances of countless golfers over 
the face of the earth. The writer is himself 
a sufferer, and this is his cri de cceur" 


The present writer took up golf about ten 
years ago, when he was thirty. He had not been 
a cricketer, nor, in fact, had he indulged in any 
game in which a ball has to be hit, except 
lawn-tennis ; and at lawn-tennis he had achieved 
but little success, because it was not until he 
took up golf that he grasped the only two ideas 
that matter in lawn-tennis : following the 



ball on to the racquet and "hitting through." 
For a few months he played golf " in the light 
of nature " and derived and gave to others 
considerable enjoyment. It was then borne 
into him that golf was a game that he was 
likely to continue to play until old age, or 
something not less drastic, intervened, and that 
consequently it would be sane to try to acquire 
a sound method. He consulted the nearest 

This professional was a good fellow, and 
he played a fine game. He was animated, 
however, by an overwhelming passion for 
analyzing the swing, and it had never occurred 
to him that his powers of observation and 
deduction were unequal to the task. Nor did 
it occur to the writer until he had lived through 
six months of tribulation, during which he had 
heroically endeavoured to play golf by turning 
over the left wrist as far as it would go at the 
beginning of the swing, by squeezing his right 
elbow into his side, by tucking his left knee 
into his right knee, and his right knee into his 
left knee, and, above all, by straining every 
nerve to get into a statuesque position somehow 


The Golf Swing 

or other at the finish of the swing, whether the 
ball had been toed, heeled, sliced, pulled, or 

The writer then took advice from another 
professional. This excellent fellow was not at 
all of the analytical turn of mind. He had but 
few theories, but he enunciated certain proposi- 
tions which, though they appeared somewhat 
crude at the time, are now seen to be full of 
elemental truth. The writer now cordially 
subscribes to such dicta as, " The golf swing 
ain't a trick " ; " You don't have to wriggle 
about like an eel : you just stand up to the ball 
and hit it " ; " There's only one thing to 
remember you've just got to put the club 
round your neck both ways " ; " Not so much 
foot- work, sir ; golf ain't a sparring match." 

On the whole the writer emerged a better 
man for this cold-douche treatment, and he was 
given a handicap of 18. 

He then began to read every article and book 
on golf in the English language, and so great 
was his thirst for knowledge that he deplored 
that golf had riot become part of the literature 
of Germany and France. He coquetted with 


many notions and ideas, and one of these, " the 
straight left arm," stood him in such good stead 
for awhile that his handicap came down to 12. 
(He now knows why the notion of the straight 
left arm subsequently played him false.) 

This experience was followed by strange 
lapses from golfing sanity, but the writer was 
patched up from time to time by various pro- 
fessionals, and his handicap was reduced to 10. 
He had now got rid of many false ideas with 
regard to the swing, and had adopted certain 
useful ideas, with the result that his game 
showed an all-round improvement, which 
brought his handicap down, first to 8, and then 
to 5. 

It is easier, however, to get rid of false ideas 
than to get rid of bad habits, and the even 
tenor of his game was liable to be gravely 
disturbed by recurrences of tricks picked up or 
accentuated in the early days of his training 
under the pseudo-scientific professional. 

The most persistent and the most demoraliz- 
ing of these tricks was that common phenome- 
non of the swing " body in too soon." In the 
periods of impotence produced by this scourge, 


The Golf Swing 

every remedy known to the literature of the 
game and the Solons of the links was tried ; 
and the writer, discarding one after another, 
came to place faith in the doctrine enunciated 
in a small book on golf bearing the engaging 
title, " The Simplicity of the Golf Swing.*' 
In a nutshell, the principle on which that 
doctrine is based is that at the beginning of 
both the up-swing and the down-swing it is 
the shoulders that move first, and that one 
should, therefore, leave it to the shoulders, in 
turning, to suggest the proper relative move- 
ment to arms and hands. This principle has 
the merit of extreme simplicity it presents 
one concept, one mental picture, instead of a 
dozen ; and in the writer's case it had for a time 
the effect of facilitating the timing of the full 
swing. It was not long, however, before first 
the short game and then the long game went 
utterly to pieces. The shot became a pon- 
derous, lumbering affair, as unlike the quick, 
crisp movement of the professional as it was 
possible to be. 

The writer now applied himself to the 
discovery of some other simple mental picture 



of the swing. He was convinced that, whether 
the shoulders moved first or last, good results 
would not be obtained by consciously trying to 
move them first. What the golfer has to do 
is to get into the best hitting position at the 
top of the up-swing. It may be that in doing 
this his shoulders will move first. It may be, 
on the other hand, that if he tries to move his 
shoulders first he will not get into that position. 
The instinct to turn the shoulders may be so 
strong that the shoulders will do their full part 
in the swing if the mind ignores them alto- 
gether, and concentrates itself on, say, moving 
the club with the hands. Indeed, after much 
thought, observation, and trial, the writer 
came to the conclusion that this was so, and 
that unless the shoulders were left to look after 
themselves, their part in the shot was likely to 
be over-emphasized and the shot impaired. 

About this time (July, 1916) it was stated 
in the newspapers that Ernest Jones, the 
Chislehurst professional, who had had a leg 
shot off in France in March, had played 
round the Royal Norwich links (standing 
on one leg for each shot) in 83, and a little 


The Golf Swing 

later, playing with David Ayton, he (still on 
one leg) had holed out the Clacton course a 
long course in 72. It was at once clear to 
the writer that Ernest Jones at all events must 
have thoroughly acquired the art of obtaining 
his results with the minimum exertion, and the 
writer lost no time in getting once more into 
touch with a player whose game he had always 

Before the war Ernest Jones had been one of 
the most promising golfers in the metropolitan 
district, and the Chislehurst Golf Club, the 
late home of the Empress Eugenie, had come 
to be known as the home of Ernest Jones. . . . 
Though he had not headed the list at any of 
the most important meetings, Ernest Jones had 
always been " there or thereabouts." He never 
failed to qualify for the Open Championship, 
he generally appeared well toward the top of 
the final lists, and his scores were uniformly 
sound. In the News of the World competitions 
he was wont to qualify, and to give a good 
account of himself in the subsequent rounds ; 
and he did excellent work in the French 
Championship. In the Kent Championship 


IM<;. 2.- Diirint.' the War. 

FIG. 3. To-day 


he adopted the role of runner-up, and in three 
consecutive finals he lowered the record of 
three links Eltham, Hythe, and Herne Bay. 
There can be no doubt that in the normal course 
of events Ernest Jones would have attained 
front rank among his fellow-professionals well 
before he was thirty. Then came the war. . . . 

Jones was ready to respond to the call of 
King and Country, and in January, 1915,116 
along with many other golfers -joined the 
Army. In November he was out in France, 
near to Loos ; he went through the winter 
unscathed, but was badly wounded in March, 
1 9 1 6, by rifle grenade. Some sixteen pieces of 
metal were removed from his head, his right 
forearm, and his right leg, and this leg was 
subsequently amputated close below the knee. 
Nevertheless, the enemy had so far failed to 
destroy the golfer in him that four months 
later he was performing the incredible feat of 
holing out a long and testing course in an 
average of fours, handing his crutches to the 
caddy precisely seventy-two times in the 

The achievement becomes the more startling 


The Golf Swing 

when it is considered that Jones is a slightly 
built man on the short side his height is 
under five feet six inches and his weight less 
than 10 stone : he was therefore unable to rely 
on any reserve of brute force. 

His method of hitting the ball had always 
been conspicuously easy and decisive. In his 
use of the hands and the fingers he resembled 
Vardon, but his swing was flatter and rather 
more compact than Vardon's, and it was 
accompanied by less suggestion of power, but 
perhaps even greater suggestion of speed. It 
was a method which prima facie would stand 
well the ruthless test that was to be applied 
to it. 

Ernest Jones, moreover, was known to his 
fellow-professionals, and to some fortunate 
amateurs, as a golfer who had brought an 
uncommonly penetrating mind to bear on an un- 
commonly perplexing subject. He was known 
as a player of original views, a player who 
had satisfied himself about the mechanics 
of the swing, and who played the game fully 
concious of what he was doing and why he 
was doing it. 



When the writer first saw Jones after his 
convalescence he had just got his artificial leg, 
and though obviously embarrassed by it, he 
played noteworthy golf in an exhibition game 
with Vardon, Taylor, and Braid. One saw 
that he experienced difficulty in finishing the 
shot freely the right leg came lumbering 
forward after the ball had been hit but there 
was the same clean, crisp hitting as before. 
At the time of writing, however, he is on 
better terms with the artificial leg, and though 
it still complicates the question of balance, 
especially when the stance is uneven as it 
frequently is at Chislehurst it does not 
succeed in helping Jones's opponents to any- 
thing like the extent they would naturally 
expect it to do. Sequences of fours interrupted 
by threes continue to be the order of Jones's day. 

The writer found that Jones was convinced 
that the golf swing could be readily taught 
and consistently performed only if it were 
conceived as one movement, that various 
members of the body (including the shoulders) 
were normally anxious to get busy too strenu- 
ously and too soon, and that the only way 


The Golf Swing 

of insuring their working in due co-ordination 
with the other members of the body, notably 
the hands and the fingers, was to treat them as 
disastrous leaders, but as wholly admirable 
followers. The basis of the swing, as Jones 
had worked it out before the war, was the 
proper action of the hands and fingers. 

His accident had put his theory of golf to 
the touch, and had intensified his faith in it ; 
and it was not long before the present writer 
was swinging a golf club with a decisiveness 
which had previously seemed beyond his range 
of accomplishment. 

More than ever Ernest Jones felt the artist's 
itch for asserting his point of view before the 
largest possible audience ; but though at the 
very forefront of viva voce teachers, he was not 
a practised writer ; nor would he resort to the 
device of commissioning a golfing journalist to 
produce a book purporting to be written by 
himself. It was in these circumstances that 
the present writer came to essay the task of 
explaining the principle and the method which 
Ernest Jones had made so vividly clear to him 
on the links. 



The writer is fully aware of the danger of 
conveying impressions other than those intended 
to be conveyed, and he earnestly asks the 
reader to check the impressions formed by him 
by immediately trying them out on the links 
with club and ball. 

In this book one lesson only is taught, and 
that one lesson is taught all the time. Each 
chapter is but a re-statement from a different 
angle of the principle enunciated in every 
other chapter. The risk of wearying the 
reader by reiteration has been preferred to the 
risk of leaving him in doubt. 

" Surely," says the writer in the Daily 
Express, " among the thousands of golfers in 
the two hemispheres there is some one person 
who can make this plague of a game in- 
telligible ?" 

There is. He is Ernest Jones. And if 
there is anything unintelligible in the following 
pages, it is the writer, and not Ernest Jones, 
who is at fault. 



IT will have been gathered from the preced- 
ing chapter that in this exposition of the golf 
swing the writer's aim is not to decide such 
points as whether in the up-swing the shoulders 
move before, at the same time as, or later 
than, the hands, but to suggest to the reader 
that mental picture of the physical processes 
involved which will help him to obtain the 
result he seeks. 

In the long game the golfer wants the 
utmost length that he can get without sacrific- 
ing control. It is of little use to him to hit a 
ball " to blazes " ; for almost invariably it is 
difficult to get back from that locality to the 
green. It will not even serve his purpose to 
hit one long straight ball at every second shot. 
Obviously what he requires most of all, if 
he is sane, is control. In the short game 


The Golf Swing 

indeed, control is everything. Nothing else 

The primary question, then, for the golfer 
is how to control the behaviour of the ball 
that is, how to gain control over the club 

Control over the club head connotes two 
things power and " touch." Power can be 
gained by gripping the club in the palms of the 
hands, but it is given only to few people to obtain 
" touch " in that way. " Touch " can be obtained 
by gripping the club lightly in the fingers, but 
power cannot be gained in that way. Some- 
thing between the two methods of gripping is 

There are, perhaps, two natural methods of 
holding any implement with which one intends 
to strike. If one were about to break stones 
or fell a tree, one would instinctively take hold 
of the hammer or the hatchet deep in the palm 
of the hand. The grip would adapt itself to 
the notion of power. If, on the other hand, 
one were nonchalantly decapitating daisy-heads 
in the course of a country walk, one would 
instinctively hold one's cane lightly in the 


The Mental Picture 

fingers: the grip would adapt itself to the notion 
of flexibility and speed. 

The golf ball is a light thing compared with 
the stone, a heavy thing compared with the 
daisy-head ; and the golf club is a light thing 
compared with the stone-breaker's hammer, a 
heavy thing compared with a cane. 

Jointly, then, the golf club and golf ball 
should suggest to the mind a compromise 
between power and speed, between " hefti- 
ness " and flexibility. 

It is the blending of these two qualities 
which baffles the average golfer. He is apt 
to attach by far too much importance to power, 
and the result is that he manipulates his club 
ponderously and ineffectively, never for one 
moment realizing the idea of speed or " touch,' 
and usually failing to achieve his one objective 
power. His mental picture is ill-conceived, 
and therefore his action goes astray. His 
hands and fingers have failed to do their full 
share of the work, and consequently his body 
comes into the shot at the wrong time and in 
the wrong positions. 

In the revolutions of a wheel the speed of the 


The Golf Swing 

hub bears a fixed ratio to the speed of the rim, 
but the golfer who mistimes his shot suggests 
the analogy of a wheel in which the hub and the 
rim are at variance, the hub being determined 
to increase the ratio of its speed to the speed of 
the rim. The result, in the example of the 
wheel, would be broken spokes and a buckled 
rim. In the case of the golfer, the arms are too 
flexible to break (though the club is not), but 
the result is a jerky and retarded, not a 
quickened, movement of the club-head ; more- 
over, the course of the club-head is out of 
truth : the shot is a failure. 

The fingers bear to the other members of 
the body involved in the golf swing a some- 
what similar relationship to that which subsists 
between the toes and the other members of 
the body involved in walking. If one walks, 
thinking only of the action of the hips, one 
will instinctively take long strides, and the gait 
will suggest considerable power but little 
" life." If in walking one thinks only of the 
action of the knees, the effect produced will 
be one of feebleness and ineffectiveness. If, 
however, one walks concentrating on the action 


The Mental Picture 

of the toes and the ankles, the stride will be 
short and quick, and great flexibility and 
vitality will be felt and suggested. The reader 
is invited to make the experiment and enjoy 
the sensation of the toes gripping the ground 
and promoting a rapid forward movement of 
the legs. The type of gait, it will be observed, 
is the outcome of the mental picture. 

It is so with golf. The swing is the out- 
come of the mental picture. Let the reader 
visualize clearly a swing in which the motive 
force is applied by and through the hands and 
particularly the fingers ; let him cease to care 
what other physical processes are involved ; 
and let him rest assured that if his brain 
prompts the hands and fingers to do their work, 
the other members of the body will probably 
do theirs. If he does this, he will be well on 
the way to achieving that crisp, decisive 
method of hitting a golf ball which makes the 
professional's game the despair of the ordinary 
amateur player. 

The golfer should fix it firmly in his mind 
that his object is not to pit his strength against 
the inertia of the golf ball, but to lash a 


The Golf Swing 

responsive ball away by flinging the club-head 
at it at the highest possible speed. Speed is 
the sine qua non. 

Much learning has been devoted to the 
question whether the golfer's action is a swing 
or a hit. Most good golfers say it is a swing, 
but what most good golfers have in mind when 
they make a shot is to hit. This kind of 
bewildering inconsistency is rampant in golf. 
The mental picture suggested by the idea of 
sweeping the ball away may be instinct with 
rhythm, but it does not suggest that dash, 
that speed, that crispness, that " pinch," that 
" nip," which is of the essence of the modern 
professional's action. 

The golfer should picture to himself that he 
has to hit the ball away with the club-head, 
and that in order to do this most effectively he 
must set the club-head moving and keep it 
moving all the time by hand and ringer work. 
He must not give a moment's thought to the 
action of the legs, or the feet, or the hips, or 
the shoulders, or even to keeping his eye on the 
ball. He must be preoccupied, he must be 
obsessed, by the one idea of bringing the club- 


The Mental Picture 

head on to the ball by means of a persistent 
movement of the hands and fingers. He must 
not think of keeping his left arm and the club- 
shaft in one line as long as possible (this idea 
shows a complete lack of appreciation of the 
functions of hands and fingers) ; he must not 
think of keeping his left arm stiff (this, in so 
far as it happens, is an effect, not a cause) ; he 
must think of nothing other than the one idea 
of making the club-head move all the time 
with the hands and fingers, and of letting arms, 
shoulders, hips, legs, and feet respond un- 
hampered to the call made upon them. As a 
fact, if he goes on taking the club back by 
finger pressure as far as it will go, he will find 
that his left knee will automatically turn toward 
his right, that the left side of his left foot 
and the left heel will slightly leave the ground, 
that the left shoulder will turn underneath 
the chin, that the left arm will be moderately 
extended (certainly not fully extended or rigid), 
that at the top of the swing the hands and 
wrists will be underneath the shaft of the 
club, that the sole of the club-head will be 
facing upward, and so on. If any of these 


The Golf Swing 

effects are not produced, it will not help him 
consciously to insert them into the up-swing. 
He must get back to the basic notion of 
persistent finger work, and he will find that in 
so far as the traditional symptoms are not 
exhibited in his swing, he has failed somewhere 
in that finger work. Somewhere in the up- 
swing the finger work has been relaxed and 
has failed to give the necessary impetus to the 
other, the subordinate processes. Similarly, if 
the down-swing betrays any lack of rhythm, if 
the body moves too soon or too late or in the 
wrong curve, if the weight does not follow 
the club-head if, in short, anything goes 
wrong with the swing, let the player try to 
discover where he has failed in his hand and 
finger action. He is almost sure to find that at 
some point or other the finger action has 
ceased to assert itself, so allowing processes 
which should be subsidiary and accommodating 
processes, to take the initiative. If the mind is 
concentrated on manipulating the club-head by 
means of hand and finger work, the body can 
hardly get into the shot too soon, and if the 
player is determined to let everything respond 

FK;. 4. Down swing. 
The body has turned 
on its own initiative. 

i>'. 5- The body has 
followed the lead of 
the hands. 

FIG. 6. The hands have 
started the club -head 
moving but the shoulders 
have not responded. 

The Mental Picture 

which wants to respond to the impulse sug- 
gested by the hands and fingers, the body is 
not likely to lag behind. The hands and 
fingers must so control the club-head that at 
the vital moment they are ready to make the 
club-head (which up to that point in the 
down-swing has been behind the hands) lash 
through the ball, pulling hands, arms, shoulders, 
and legs after it. 

If one considers for a moment the move- 
ments which take place in an ordinary Indian 
club exercise, one will realize that the per- 
former's mind is concentrated on the work 
of the hands and fingers. The arms, the 
shoulders, the body, the legs and the feet 
respond sympathetically to the movements 
suggested and set up by the work of the hands 
and fingers. They do not initiate, but on the 
other hand, they do not retard. Their province 
is to be ready and willing to move in order to 
allow the manipulation of the clubs to proceed 
with the utmost freedom, precision, and rhythm. 
It may be that the shoulders and other members 
of the body do in fact move at the same time 
as the hands, but the essential thing for the 


The Golf Swing 

mind to dwell upon is not what movements 
take place, but how and where to apply power. 
For if power is properly applied the accessory 
or accommodating movements are not likely to 
give trouble. 



THE view that the execution of the golf swing 
depends on hand and finger action brings out 
emphatically the immense importance of the 
grip. The grip is seen to be at the root of the 
matter ; for clearly the player's control over the 
club depends primarily upon it. His hold 
of the shaft must be firm yet it must be 
flexible. Here are two qualities which appear 
to be incompatible with each other, and it is 
the golfer's first duty to acquire that method of 
gripping the club which will allow him to 
bring these apparently incompatible qualities 
together in sweet accord. 

The old-fashioned palm grip gave power, but 
not flexibility or "touch."* The double V 

* The writer speaks always of the normal case, and takes 
no account of what long practice or genius may accomplish 
with any method under the sun. 

D 33 

The Golf Swing 

grip gives both power and touch, but not unity 
of action to the two hands. The interlocking 
grip conduces to that unity of action, but only 
at the expense of both power and touch (for it 
puts the powerful forefinger of the left hand 
almost out of action). The overlapping grip, 
however, has all the qualities and none of the 
defects of the other varieties. Its superiority 
might, indeed, be inferred from the fact that 
it is the grip of almost every professional 
golfer and of nine first-class amateurs out 
of ten. 

It is unfortunately the fact, however, that the 
majority of golfers who use an overlapping 
grip entirely miss one of the essential features 
of this form of grip. They realize that the 
little finger of the right hand is to be allowed 
to ride over the forefinger of the left hand, so 
that the hands may have some chance of acting 
as one, and they realize that the overlapping 
grip is a finger grip. What they do not 
realize is that the very essence of the grip is the 
dominating part played by the forefinger and 
thumb of each hand. 

The advice usually given though never 


The Grip 

practised by the expert is that the first step 
in gripping the club is to lay the shaft along 
(that is, parallel with the joints of) the fingers 
of the left hand. The position indicated is 
shown in Fig. 7 and the consequent positions 
of the hands at the top of the up-swing are 
as shown in Figs. 8 and 9. The position in 
Fig. 8 is unusual, because the player instinctively 
realizes that such a position would give him no 
control of the club, and allows the shaft to move 
into the palm of his hand as the up-swing 
proceeds. The result is that that which set out 
to be a finger grip becomes a palm grip, a grip 
lacking in flexibility and the capacity to produce 
high speed in the club-head. 

The true finger grip is to be achieved, not by 
laying the club along the fingers of the hand, 
but by the following method : 

1. Lay the face of the club-head against the 
ball, allowing the club to take its natural lie. 

2. Take hold of the shaft with the thumb 
and forefinger of the left hand, pressing them 
together (Figs. 12 and 13). Note that the V 
made by them on the top of the shaft is a short 
one, the crook of the forefinger being pronounced 


The Golf Swing 

and slightly lower than the tip of the 

3. Wrap the other fingers round the shaft 
(Figs. 14 and 16). 

NOTE. (a) The back of the hand is not on 
the top of the shaft, but at the side of it that 
is, facing toward the hole. As the player looks 
down, he should see the knuckles of the first 
and second fingers, but not more than a sugges- 
tion of the knuckle of the third finger. If the 
back of the hand is further on the top of the 
shaft, the wrist and forearm will be stiffened, 
and the swing will consequently be cramped. 
If the back of the hand is further to the side 
(that is, more toward the hole), then the left 
wrist will tend at the beginning of the up-swing 
to bend outward (a movement known to 
anatomy as the " extension of the wrist-joint," 
and utterly out of place in the golf swing : 
Fig. 20). If, however, the club is gripped as 
shown in Figs. 17 and 18, and the proper 
mental picture of the processes involved in the 
up-swing has been conceived, the fingers in 
initiating the movement of the club-head will 
automatically bring the wrist and forearm into 


FIG. ii. The ideal finish of the shot. The second, third and 
fourth fingers are extended to the same extent as in Fig. i. 

FIG. 12 How the club is gripped. 

FIG. 13. Another view. 

FIG. 14. Note position of forefinger 
and thumb. 

The Grip 

the ideal position. There will be no " extension 
of the wrist-joint,'* and the hand and forearm will 
turn as shown in Fig. 21. 

(b) Though the back of the hand is not on 
the top of the shaft, or facing the sky, the V 
between the thumb and forefinger is on the top 
of the shaft. It will probably require some 
little practice in order to get the V into this 
position without bringing the back of the hand 
too far over the shaft. 

(c ) The grip is dominated by the pressure of 
the forefinger and thumb, the second, third, 
and fourth fingers contributing in decreasing 
order to the control of the club so obtained. 

(d) If the fingers and thumb are opened out, 
the shaft will be found to lie, not along the 
finger joints (Fig. 7), but along a line from 
the tip of the forefinger, across the lower part 
of the second finger, the root of the third 
finger, and the cushion of the palm (known in 
palmistry as the Mount of the Moon). See 
Fig. 15. 

4. Having mastered the grip of the left hand, 
place the right hand about the shaft so that the 
little finger rides easily over the forefinger of 


The Golf Swing 

the left hand, and the thumb and forefinger grip 
the shaft in similar formation to that of the 
thumb and forefinger of the left hand. The 
knuckles of the first and second fingers are 
visible to the player, the V between the thumb 
and forefinger is on the top, or almost on the 
top of the shaft, and the grip is secured mainly 
between the crook of the forefinger and the 
thumb, though the second, third, and fourth 
fingers, in descending order, play their part. 

To sum up, the grip (Figs. 17 and 18) is 
dominated by the forefingers and thumbs of 
both hands, the other fingers fulfilling a 
necessary but ancillary function. 

The reader will be able to satisfy himself by 
experiment, without a club, that if he closes all 
the fingers of his hand as tightly as possible, he 
will stiffen the wrist and forearm and even the 
upper arm, whereas if he grips as firmly as 
possible with the forefinger and thumb he can 
retain a completely free wrist, forearm, and 
upper arm. Such freedom of action, coupled 
with control of the club, means the playing 
of good golf, whereas a conscious tension at any 
point in the mechanism other than the grip of 


FIG. 1 6. A proper hold of the shaft. 

FK,. 17. The ideal grip. 

The Grip 

forefinger and thumb is an obstacle to good 
golf. It is on these grounds that so much 
importance is attached to the question of 
gripping the club. 

Figs, i o and 1 1 indicate the respective 
positions of the hands and fingers at the top 
of the up-swing and at the end of the follow- 
through. They show that the grip is pre- 
eminently a finger grip, and they make clear 
the nature of the work done by the second, third, 
and fourth fingers. From this point of view 
Fig. 10 should be compared with Figs. 8 and 9. 


FIG. 19. Wron^ position : left wrist bent ouuvard. 

I-'K. 2'- -Wrong position : left hand over-turned. 




HAVING satisfied himself that he knows exactly 
how the club should be gripped, the player 
should practise the movement, preliminary to 
the swing, inelegantly described as the 
" waggle." Much is to be gained from the 
waggle treated as an exercise. The waggle 
should be performed, not aimlessly, but by the 
conscious application of power by the ringers. 
The golfer should move the club-head back- 
ward, and then move it forward, thinking only 
of producing the movement by finger work. 
He will soon become at ease with his grip and 
on good terms with his club ; he will get the 
" feel " of the club, and become conscious of an 
increasing command over its movements. In 
doing this exercise he must determine 


The Golf Swing 

(1) to grip the club firmly in the forefingers 
and thumbs. 

(2) to keep every other part of the body 
relaxed, notably the wrists, arms, and shoulders. 

(3) to apply the motive power continuously, 
persistently, by the fingers. 

If these three points are observed, then 

(a) the body can never lead ; and 

(b) the body will always follow. 

The player will quickly become an expert 
waggler, and he can then extend the waggle 
until it becomes a complete backward and 
forward swing. If the same principles be 
always borne in mind, the shoulders will turn 
and the knees will bend in due time and place. 

This backward and forward swinging (which 
incidentally is an excellent physical drill) rapidly 
promotes that sense of balance and that feeling 
of control over the club which hundreds of 
rounds of golf often fail to give ; and no matter 
how expert the golfer may be, no matter how 
much he may be " on his game," he cannot 
fail to derive advantage from the exercise, pro- 
vided that it is performed, never perfunctorily 


FIG. 25. Half shot. 

FIG. 26. Full iron shot. 

The Swing 

or carelessly, but always with the resolve that 
the three fundamental principles of grip, relaxa- 
tion, and ringer work shall be consciously and 
conscientiously carried out. The exercise so 
practised will produce not only freedom and 
certainty of movement, but that habit of mental 
concentration which golf demands as much as 
anything else in life, whether work or play. 

If the body and mind are constantly trained 
in this manner, the actual hitting of the ball is 
not likely to present any grave difficulty. 
Naturally, the very presence of the ball will 
tempt the golfer to forget one or more of the 
three articles of faith, and he will often fall 
before the temptation ; but so long as he 
realizes that the failure of the shot must be due 
to the failure to observe one or more of the three 
articles of faith, and to nothing else, and is to 
be cured by due observation of those articles 
and by nothing else, his progress in the game 
will not be long delayed. 


It is best to begin by making quite short 
shots with an iron club a mid-iron or a 


The Golf Swing 

mashie : what is known as a quarter-swing or 
a half-swing (Figs. 24, 25, 27, and 28). It is 
this movement which forms the essential part of 
the full swing, and it is because this movement 
is so often absent from the full swing that the 
ball is not really hit away, but is merely pushed 
away by the club (Fig. 30). When this 
relatively slow and powerless movement is 
performed, the fingers and hands have failed 
to dominate the movement as the hands 
come toward their lowest point in the 
down-swing. Instead of forcing the club-head 
from its position behind them to a position in 
front of them in order that the ball may be hit 
away in the most definite manner, the hands 
and fingers have failed to exert themselves at 
the vital moment ; they have exercised no 
leverage over the club, and the shaft and arms 
have moved through the lower sector of the 
swing practically in a straight line. In 
other words, the action of the hands and fingers, 
obviously essential in the quarter-swing or half- 
swing, has been absent, and the hands have per- 
formed no function other than that of a strap 
fastening the club to the arms. The control, the 

FIG. 45. Shows "give" of fingers in any flexible movement. 

FIG. 46. Figs. 46 and 47 exemplify again the essential '-give" of the fingers. 

The Swing 

power, and the " touch," which should have 
been in the hands and fingers, have been lost. 
The shot at the best can only be second-rate. 
At the worst . . . 

It is the omission from the full swing of the 
fundamental action in the short swing that 
causes the normal driving of the amateur to lack 
that unmistakable quality of definiteness which 
distinguishes professional play. The full swing is 
therefore to be conceived as an enlarged quarter- 
swing enlarged solely in order that greater 
impetus may be imparted to the club-head. 


The principle of slow-back which is dinned 
into the ears of every beginner is practised by 
no first-class golfer. The beginner is led to 
believe that some subtle magic resides in the 
process, and he performs the laborious operation 
as though he were anxious to get the club over 
his right shoulder without any profane 
onlooker seeing or hearing what he has 
accomplished. He is like a thief in the night, 
or a housemaid circumventing a meat-fly. It 
is, of course, possible to hit a good shot after 


The Golf Swing 

treating a golf club in this ridiculous manner. 
It may be less difficult to hit a good shot in that 
manner than after snatching the club-head away 
from the ball as though the golfer had suddenly 
gone mad or suddenly imagined that the club- 
head was burning the new half-crown ball away. 
But the up-swing is neither a funeral rite nor a 
music-hall trick. It should be just a light, easy, 
free, flexible movement, pleasing to execute, 
pleasing to observe. The slow-back doctrine 
is a clumsy statement of the principle of control. 
The golfer must obtain and retain control of the 
club. It is seen that he almost necessarily 
loses control when he jerks the club away from 
the ball, and instead of the root principle of 
control being intelligently explained to him, he 
is told without ceasing to go " slow-back." 
He begins to regard " slow-back " as an end in 
itself instead of a bad means to that end, and he 
plods on, for ever missing the whole significance 
of the golf swing. 

It may be objected that the person who 
makes the up-swing at a snail's pace does in 
fact possess control of the club. This, however, 
is untrue. In the first place, the movement he 


The Swing 

makes is not an up-swing at all it is merely an 
upward movement, or rather a series of upward 
movements. There is no swing in it, and it 
cannot conduce to the development of swing 
in the downward movement. The phrase "con- 
trol of the club" means control of the club qua 
golf club, not qua sledge-hammer ; it connotes 
the ability to set up speed in the club-head, from 
the utmost speed that it may be capable of 
achieving, as in the drive, down to the lowest 
speed at which it can be induced to move 
effectively, as in the short putt Such control 
is not to be obtained by the observance of any 
shibboleth, least of all the shibboleth of slow- 
back. The up-swing must be a swing, and its 
only function is that of the best possible pre 
liminary to the down-swing. It is not an end 
in itself: it is only a means to an end. It is 
not a means to that end unless it is light, easy, 
free, flexible. If it has those qualities, and 
is controlled, its speed is a matter of no im- 
portance. The best golfer is the golfer who 
has greatest control of the club, and it may 
well be that he is the golfer who has the 
quickest up-swing this being an effect, not, of 
E 49 

The Golf Swing 

course, a cause, of supreme control. The 
beginner should therefore always keep in mind 
the great question of control, and he must 
steadily refuse to be side-tracked, whether he is 
considering, or practising, either the up-swing 
or the down-swing. As a matter of fact, he 
would do well never at all to think of the swing 
in separate parts. The waggle, the up-swing, 
the down-swing, the follow-through, and all 
the rest of it, are in reality one thing the 
movement by which the golfer obtains, and 
expresses, his mastery over the club-head. 
This mastery is to be achieved by the cultiva- 
tion of proper hand and ringer action, by relying 
on the hands and fingers to provide the initiating 
motive power in other words, by setting the 
machinery going at the fingers. 


One of the most vital moments in the golf 
swing occurs just before the up-swing is com- 
pleted. Even the player who has begun to 
realize the importance of persistently moving 
the club-head with the hands, is tempted at 
this point to forget to carry this action out and 


The Swing 

to let the body go on twisting on its own 
account. When this tendency is yielded to, 
it becomes extremely difficult to give the 
proper start to the club-head at the beginning 
of the down-swing ; for if the hands fail at 
any moment they are all the more likely to 
fail at the next moment. And the right 
shoulder, instead of being pulled round as a 
result of an impetus set up and kept up by 
the hands, will turn on its own account (Fig. 4) . 
Consequently, when the club-head strikes the 
ball, the shoulders will not be in anything like 
the position they occupied when the ball was 
addressed, but will be turned toward the hole 
they will, in fact, be already more or less in 
the position they should take at the finish of 
the shot. This is the normal case of " body 
in too soon." The player will be told by his 
caddy that he has cut across the ball or pulled 
his arms in, and he will be urged to throw his 
arms out after hitting the ball. Such advice 
is on a par with the recommendation lo lock the 
door after the horse has gone. The player has 
not pulled his arms in. His body has turned 
prematurely and on its own impulse. The 

5 1 

The Golf Swing 

arms cannot help coming across the line of 
intended flight as the ball is struck, and 
nothing that the player can do as he strikes 
the ball, or after he has struck it, can be of the 
least avail. One must get back to the source 
of the trouble that point in the swing, 
possibly in the up-swing, possibly at the 
beginning of the down-swing, at which the 
hands and fingers have failed to do their work. 
(Compare Figs. 22 and 23.) 

In most of the books on golf, that vital 
moment in the swing, the beginning of the 
down-swing, is passed by in silence, but in one 
or two of the books greater or less attention is 
devoted to it. In the Harry Vardon book it is 
dealt with at some length, and the player is 
recommended to aim, at the beginning of the 
down-swing, at an imaginary person behind 
him. This kind of teaching may conceivably 
do some good, but it is, in principle, unsound. 
It does not go to the root of the matter. If in 
the true swing the club-head passes through 
certain points, it does not follow that the true 
swing can be produced by guiding the club- 
head through those points. In the true swing, 

5 2 

o > 

-= O 

The Swing 

the fingers, hands, arms, etc., perform co- 
ordinate movements, and if those movements 
are properly produced, the club-head cannot 
help following the proper path. To guide the 
club-head along that path in the hope that the 
anatomical movements will be sound is to put 
the cart before the horse, effect before cause. 
One must begin at the beginning and endeavour 
to secure the effect desired by mastering the 
processes of which that effect is the inevitable 

In " Golf Faults Illustrated," Taylor, in 
speaking of the down-swing, admonishes the 
reader not to " put on leverage too soon." The 
meaning here is not too clear, but it may be the 
same as that conveyed by that golfing common- 
place " Don't hit from the top." If it is, then 
it is diametrically opposed to the injunction of 
Braid in " Advanced Golf," who directs the 
player to hit from the top as hard as he can. 
Taylor is apparently anxious that the player 
should not force the shot with his body ; Braid 
is apparently anxious that he should take the 
risk. And so long as the player always applies 
his power with his hands, letting everything 


The Golf Swing 

else freely respond to the action so initiated, 
there can be no doubt that he who hits most 
vigorously will hit best. 

In several other books it is stated that the 
down-swing is begun by a pull of the left arm. 
This, at best, is a half-truth, and is misleading. 
The initiation of the movement is in the 
hands, and the pull of the left arm is a 
responsive an immediately responsive move- 
ment. The operation is simply the operation 
of hitting it is instinctive when once the 
principles of the movement have been mastered; 
and it is significant that no good golfer who is 
on his game has ever anything in mind when 
making a shot other than hitting the ball. 
He is not trying to hit an imaginary person 
behind him ; he is not trying not to put 
on leverage too soon, or not to hit from the 
top; he is not trying to initiate the down- 
swing with a pull of the left arm he is merely 
moving the club-head hitting the ball. 


Even the resolution to glue the eyes to the 
ball is an irrelevance. If the player has the 

FIG. 33. How the blade of the 
iron should normally come 
on to the ball. 

FIG. 34. Another view of the type of 
shot shown in Fig. 32. 

Straight position of wrist. 

Left \vnst bendiiiL' in follow through. 

The Swing 

hitting idea immovably in his mind, he is sure 
to look at the ball; the player only fails to 
look at the ball when that one dominating idea 
is momentarily absent. If the mind for one 
instant leaves that idea and concerns itself with 
anything else, as, for example, the result of the 
shot, the head will, as likely as not, go up. 
Moreover, if the mind flits for one moment 
from the one idea of hitting the ball, the rhythm 
of the movement will be disturbed, the swing 
will probably go wrong, and the player's head 
will inevitably go up it will be jerked up. 
Every indifferent player is a victim from time to 
time to fits of head-lifting. All sorts of "tips" 
have been devised for the treatment of this 
malady, but it is common experience that no 
matter what specific is applied the head-lifting 
continues. It is, indeed, not to be cured by 
nostrums, not even by a fixed determination to 
keep the head down. For head-lifting is 
usually an effect of a bad swing, not a cause of 
one. The only real cure for head-lifting or 
any other golfing malady lies in concentrating 
the mind on forcing the club-head into action 
by proper hand and finger work. 


The Golf Swing 


The idea so often put forward of letting the 
club do the work is misconceived and mis- 
leading. The club-head will certainly not do 
the work if the golfer is anything like so 
passive towards it. The golfer must learn to 
make the club-head do the work. 

The illustration of the beginning of the up- 
swing (Fig. 23) bears directly upon this prin- 
ciple. This is a posed as distinguished from 
an action photograph, and it undoubtedly 
differs to some extent from what would be 
revealed by an action photograph. The latter 
would show a fuller development of the 
accessory or accommodating movements. At 
the same time, if the golfer tried to make his 
movements correspond with those indicated by 
an action photograph, he would be tempted 
to give undue attention to the accommodating 
movements. The posed photograph emphasizes 
the importance of hand and finger work at the 
very outset of the swing, and if this idea is 
allowed to dominate the mind of the golfer 
(coupled always with the complementary idea 


The Swing 

of not interfering with the full and free de- 
velopment of the accessory or accommodating 
movements of the other members of the body) 
the golfer will often achieve something closely 
akin to golf. 


The significance of the clear mental picture 
is perhaps most apparent in the approach 
shot. Where the exact length of the shot 
can be measured, and where the character 
of the shot is determined by the hazards 
and other features of the course, every golfer 
who has obtained some command over his 
clubs addresses his ball with confidence. 
His environment forces the correct mental 
picture upon him. He cannot escape from it. 
There is no doubt, no vagueness as to what is 
required. But in the opposed type of shot, 
as, for example, an open approach to an 
unprotected green, with nothing to indicate 
clearly the length of shot which is called 
for, the golfer has himself to make up his 
mind as to the type of shot to be played. 
Probably half a dozen shots are open to him, 


The Golf Swing 

and he has to select one of them. He may 
find difficulty in deciding which is the best, 
and he may change his mind whilst executing 
the shot. A large percentage of foozled 
approaches are due to this cause, as every golfer 
knows only too well. It is obviously of first 
importance that the player should never proceed 
to execute any shot, no matter how short or 
how easy it may appear, until he has definitely 
outlined in his mind the type of shot he intends 
to produce. 


In order to produce this shot the golfer is 
usually instructed to turn over the right hand 
on, or immediately after, hitting the ball. If, 
however, the player concentrates on this turning 
over of the right hand as a thing in itself, he is 
not likely to obtain good results. He will 
probably turn the hand over too soon, too late, 
or too much, and his action will probably be 
stiff and artificial. The proper shot can be 
consistently produced only when the shot is 
made from the proper point of view ; and in 
the run-up, as in every other shot, the player 


The Swing 

must get down to the essence of the matter. 
What is the essence of the run-up ? What are 
the characteristics that leap to the eye when 
the shot is played by an expert ? First, consider 
the flight of the ball. The ball rises but little 
from the turf, and the inference is that it has 
been struck by a club with little loft or by a 
club whose loft has been to some extent neutral- 
ized by the stance, the address, and the action 
of the player. It runs a long distance after 
striking the turf, and the inference is that it has 
been hit without any suspicion of "jabbing " 
or " stabbing." This inference, moreover, is 
strengthened by the fact that the ball travels 
very evenly and steadily and goes further than 
it appears to have the power to do. Now, 
observe carefully the action and stance of the 
player. His weight is forward on the left leg, 
the ball is toward his right foot, and conse- 
quently his hands, when he addresses the ball, 
are in front of it. This is exactly the position 
one would expect after watching the flight and 
run of the ball. The up-swing is short, slow, 
and deliberate, and the down-swing is short, 
slow, and deliberate the movement is even 


The Golf Swing 

and delicately controlled from beginning to 
end. The club-head almost caresses the ball ; 
if it is slow to reach the ball, it is loth to 
leave it. 

It is by drawing attention to these points 
that Ernest Jones teaches the run-up. Clearly 
visualize the shot, gain control of the club in 
the fingers, then play the shot. It is the fact 
that the right hand turns over to some extent, 
but that turning over is only an incident in the 
shot. It is not the essence of the matter. The 
essence of the matter is a clear conception of 
the nature of the shot, and that sense of 
"touch "which can only be obtained by means 
of finger control. It is quite easy to turn over 
the right hand without having any real control 
of the club whatsoever one has only to 
observe the game of the average amateur 
to realize that this is so. The golfer must, 
if he is to do any good, learn to differentiate 
between symptoms and causes, and he must 
always be on the alert against the teacher 
who directs him to try to reproduce symptoms. 


The Swing 


What has been said of the run-up is equally 
applicable, with the necessary changes, to all 
the other shots. The player should first closely 
observe the behaviour of the ball, then the 
attitude and action of the expert as he makes the 
shot always correlating the two things, effect 
and cause. Then, if he has acquired control of 
the club in his fingers, he will have no difficulty 
in expressing what he has in his mind. And 
that is the essence of golf. 





" I DRAW it (the club) back close to the 
ground with my wrists. ... I turn the face 
away from the ball with my wrists. This 
turning of the wrists* imparts greater speed to 
the club-head, and is the great secret of long 
driving. To master this turn of the wrists is 
to add many yards to the long game. . . . 
After my arms have been allowed to follow 
through a reasonable distance I turn my wrists 
and finish the stroke over the left shoulder." 

# # # 

" Now we have seen the operation as it 
should be the inward turn of the left wrist. . . . 

* Any " turning " is, or course, a turning of the 
forearm, not of the wrists. 


The Golf Swing 

The left wrist has not turned sufficiently." 

* # * 

" The first movement must come from the 
wrists. They and they alone start the head of 
the club moving back from the ball. 

" The initiative in bringing down the club is 
taken by the left wrist. ... At this point 
about a couple of feet from the ball there 
should be some tightening up of the wrists. . . . 
I am certainly one of those who believe that 
the work done by the wrists at this point has a 
lot to do with the making of the drive. . . ." 

# * # 

" The movement of the upward swing must 
be begun entirely with the wrists ... the 
majority of beginners, instead of letting their 
wrists do the work ... It is the left wrist 
begins the downward swing. ... At that 
moment (when the head of the club is 
separated from the ball by a space of twenty 
inches or thereabouts) the two wrists come into 


Fu;s. 36 and 37. Tv.-o movements of the wrist joint. 

The Action of the Wrist 

" Bring it (the club-head) behind the ball 
with a fairly flat swing, and give it a little flick 
with the wrists so as to introduce plenty of 

" When the club is about eighteen inches 
from the ball I hit with the back of the left 
hand, and at the same time put in that right 
wrist flick which counts for so much." HERD. 

* * * 

" The most notable changes with regard to 
the swing are . . . the wrists come much more 
into the stroke, the body much less. . . . We 
note the strong flexion * of the wrists. ... It is 
very nice to be able to drive a ball two hundred 
yards with this power of fingers and this turning 
of the wrists. . . . Taylor, though he uses his 
wrists freely, has not the Vardon flex or flick, 
but he gets there just as well with his forearm 
work. . . ." JOHN L. Low. 

* * * 

" The left wrist takes the club back ... If 
the left wrist is not turned as it should be ... 
This turn of the left wrist is a gradual movement. 
The club-head should meet the ball, the wrists 

* Here used in its popular sense. 


The Golf Swing 

having, in bringing the club down, accelerated 
the speed at the moment of contact. ... If 
control of the club is not lost, leverage from the 
wrists is so much more easily acquired." 


" The object of this book is to show that the 
mechanism of the golf swing depends on fore- 
arm rather than wrist action. Indeed, apart 
from putting, it will be contended that there 
is no such thing as a pure wrist shot in the whole 
domain of golf. 

# # # 

" The exposition, as well as the performance, 
of the golf swing is a comparatively simple 
matter, provided the action of the wrist-joints 
can be excluded from the movement. 

" The wrist-joint, so far from coming into 
play, is passively rotated backwards and forwards 
en bloc with the hand and forearms. 
# * # 

" The pace and power of the club-head at the 
moment of impact are greatly increased by the 
incipient pronation of the right hand which con- 


FIG. 38. Straight position. 

The Action of the Wrist 

tributes the whip-like snap to the movement 
. . . it is a pure forearm action which takes 
command of the wrist and hand together. 

# # * 

" At the moment of impact the sudden 
tightening up of the muscles of the forearm 
brings the right hand and forearm from the 
position of slight supination to the position 
midway between pronation and supination ; 
and this movement, in conjunction with the 
straightening out and extension of the right 
elbow, imparts the characteristic flick to the 
club-head." BURNHAM HARE in "The Golfing 


"First and foremost, and one might almost 
say simply and solely, there is in proper manipu- 
lation the feeling that one is hitting the ball by 
means of the wrists. 

" Take thought only of smiting the ball as 
with the wrist, and the proper twist or roll, the 
turn of the right hand over the left at the 
impact, follows automatically. 

" Let everything be contributory to what is 

The Golf Swing 

called 2cn&felt to be wrist action . . . forearm 
action though it be in reality. 

" Let the gentle reader be warned against 
any conscious effort to twist or roll his 

" It is very hard * for the average man to 
believe that the feeling of wrist action which 
produces forearm action is a central feature of 
good golf action." R. S. WEIR, Golf Illustrated^ 
March, 1918. 


It will thus be seen that according to Messrs. 
Braid, Taylor, Vardon, Travers, and Low, and, 
indeed, ninety-nine first-class golfers out of a 
hundred, the essence of the shot is to get the 
wrists into it ; that according to " Burnham 
Hare " (who may be taken as fairly representing 
the anatomical school) the essence of the shot 
is to keep the wrists out of it ; and that 
according to Mr. R. S. Weir, an engaging 
exponent of the humanistic compromise, the 

* Quite so. It is very hard, because the feeling which 
should be the central feature of good golf action is not 
wrist action, but hand and finger action. 

FIGS. 39 and 40. Two other movements of the wrist joint. 

The Action of the Wrist 

essence of the shot is to get the forearms into it 
by aiming at getting the wrists into it. In a 
word, Messrs. Braid and Co. say the action 
is a wrist action, so work the wrists ; Messrs. 
Hare and Co. say the action is a forearm action, 
so work anything but the wrists ; while Messrs. 
Weir and Co. say the action is a forearm action, 
so work the wrists. 


Messrs. Weir and Co. appear to proceed on 
two reasonable hypotheses. The first is that it 
is almost inconceivable that such accomplished 
players as Messrs. Braid and Co. can be wrong 
in their feeling for the shot. The second is 
that it is almost inconceivable that such erudite 
anatomists as Messrs. Hare and Co. can be 
wrong in their analysis of the shot. What, then, 
is the explanation of these seemingly contra- 
dictory propositions ? If A is right in what he 
says, and B is right in what he does, B must, 
all unconsciously, achieve what A says ; and 
may not B's method be the best practical way 
of producing the effect noted and defined by 
A ? After all, the only thing B really has in 

7 1 

The Golf Swing 

view is to hit a good shot. After making 
many good shots and many bad ones, he 
becomes conscious of certain differences of 
feeling as between the good shots and the bad 
ones. It seems to him that when he is hitting 
good shots he is using his wrists freely, and 
that when he is hitting bad shots he is failing 
to use his wrists freely. That is enough for B. 
And nothing that A can demonstrate will affect 

But there is C to consider. Is C to follow 
B and think of his wrists, whilst admitting that 
the essential action is forearm action as stated 
by A ? Or can C be given some surer guide to 
success ? Is it certain that Messrs. Hare and 
Co. are entirely correct in their theory that the 
action is purely forearm action ? Or may it be 
that the wrist-joint plays a real part in the 
movement ? In other words, may there be 
something in the wrist theory even from the 
anatomical point of view ? 

In order to answer this question, one must 

first determine whether the much-discussed 

action of the wrist is entirely forearm action, 

entirely wrist action, or both forearm and wrist 


The Action of the Wrist 

action; and one must also determine whether 
the action, whatsoever it may be, is an initiatory 
or merely a resultant action, whether it is a 
cause or an effect. 


The wrist joint in itself is capable of four 
different movements, and four only. These are 
shown in Figs. 36, 37, 39, and 40. 

With a view to determining to what extent, 
if any, these movements take place in the 
course of the golf swing, the reader is invited 
to take hold of a club in each hand successively, 
and then in both hands together, and to make 
the complete swing, slowly observing the wrists 
all the time. 

He will observe the following points : 


Up-swmg : (a) The wrist-joint moves as 
shown in Fig. 4 1 , and is extended to the full by 
the time the arm has reached the position 
shown in Fig. 42 (" extension " is complete *). 

* This movement is accompanied by a slight responsive 
turning of the forearm. 


The Golf Swing 

(b) The remainder of the upward movement 
is achieved mainly by the arm, but at the last 
moment the wrist-joint gives, allowing the hand 
to incline towards the shoulder (abduction), and 
at the same time the fingers give. 

Down-swing : The movements involved in 
the up-swing are reversed. 

Follow-through : There is no movement of 
the right wrist-joint after the club-head has 
passed the ball, except for the almost negligible 
abduction of that joint at the end of the swing ; 
what happens is that the forearm turns 
(Fig. 43)- 


Up-swing and down-swing : There is no 
movement of the wrist-joint except for the 
almost negligible abduction of that joint. The 
forearm turns (Fig. 21). 

Follow -through : The wrist-joint bends, as 
shown in Fig. 44. 


To recapitulate (ignoring for practical 


The Action of the Wrist 

purposes the feeble movements called abduction 
and adduction) : 

1 . From Address to Impact : First part of up- 
swing and last part of down-swing : a vigorous 
movement of the right wrist-joint (" exten- 
sion ") ; no movement of the left wrist-joint, but 
a turning movement of left hand and forearm.* 

2. From Impact to Finish. First part of 
follow-through : a vigorous movement of the 
left wrist-joint ("extension") ; no movement of 
the right wrist-joint, but a turning movement of 
the right hand and forearm. 

* The beginner often finds difficulty in moving his 
hands in the correct manner at the beginning of the up- 
swing. He is prone either to bend outward the left wrist- 
joint (flexion), as in Fig. 19, or to go to the opposite 
extreme and overturn the left hand, as in Fig. 20, loosely 
known as overturning the wrist. 

He can, however, always arrive at the proper movement 
of the hands by noting the position which the left hand will 
automatically take if it is allowed to accommodate itself to 
the extension of the right wrist-joint (see Fig. 21). 

He should not, of course, allow his left hand to be passive 
when he is making the up-swing of an actual shot ; the left 
hand should be at least as active as the right, but the com- 
plete extension of the right wrist-joint will always give the 
true position of both hands and arms, and consequently the 
true course of the club-head. 


The Golf Swing 

3. The movement technically called flexion 
(Fig. 19) does not take place at any part of the 


In these circumstances the writer puts 
forward the following propositions : 

1. The expression "the turning of the 
wrists " (vide Messrs. Braid and Co.) is mis- 
leading. In so far as the wrist turns, it 
turns en bloc with the forearm, as maintained by 
Messrs. Hare and Co. ; the movement is really 
a hand and forearm movement. 

2. Though the " turning of the wrists " is a 
misleading expression, the wrist-joints do play 
a vital part in the swing, Messrs. Hare and Co. 
notwithstanding ; and when Braid says, " the 
first movement must come from the wrists," he 
is not so far from the truth as Mr. Hare suggests. 
At all events, an essential and a pronounced 
part of that movement does come from the 
extension of the right wrist-joint. 

3. As regards the whip-like snap which 
occurs at the moment of impact in a well-hit 
shot, the popular view that the snap is pro- 


The Action of the Wrist 

duced by a " wrist flick," though not quite 
correct, is preferable to Mr. Hare's " incipient 
pronation of the right hand." 

4. Mr. Hare's statement that the movement 
is " a pure forearm action which takes command 
of the wrist and hand together " is unsound in 
theory, and full of trouble if followed in 

5. Mr. Weir concedes too much to Messrs. 
Hare and Co. as theorists, and too much to 
Messrs. Braid and Co. as practical teachers. It 
has been shown that the right wrist-joint before 
impact, and the left wrist-joint after impact, do 
play a most important part in the movement, 
quite distinct from the turning or twisting of 
the forearm. But it is to be noted that this 
movement of the wrist-joint should not be 
produced by executing the movement as a 
thing in itself. In the golf swing it is not an 
initiating movement at all ; it is a responsive 
and contributory movement. The golfer 
holds the club in his hands, largely in his 
fingers. Everything that he does with his club 
is done by means of the hands and fingers. 
The " feel " of the club, and the power to use 


The Golf Swing 

the club, come to him through the hands and 
fingers. " Touch " is entirely a matter of hands 
and fingers. If the hands are used without 
finger work, the swing is the clumsy, lumber- 
ing movement known as the dead-hand swing. 
Vitality goes into the swing at the fingers. It 
is communicated by their controlled extension 
and contraction (see Figs. 42, 45, 46, and 47). 
The wrist is a remoter and duller part of the 
mechanism than even the dead-hand. The 
player may bring the most practised concentra- 
tion to bear on the working of the wrists 
without ever realizing what finger action means, 
and the fact that, in spite of this concentration 
on the wrists, many players are so apt at hitting 
a ball that they also develop perfect finger action 
is not a good argument for concentrating on the 
wrists. The average player will doubtless suffer 
less if he thinks of his wrists than if he thinks 
of his forearms or his biceps, or his shoulders, 
or his hips, or his feet ; but in nine cases out of 
ten he will suffer ; for though he is nearer to 
the truth than he might be, he is further from it 
than he need be. If the rules of golf made it 
necessary to strap the club to the wrists and not 

FIG. 47. -Compare with Fig. 46 where the fingers have not "givi 

The Action of the Wrist 

to hold it in the hands, it would doubtless be a 
good plan to think of using the wrists. But as 
the golfer does as a fact take hold of the club in 
his hands and fingers, the writer cannot for the 
life of him see why he should not try to hit 
with them. 






IN the composition of the golfer the two 
elements, balance of body and balance of mind 
are intimately correlated, and from observation 
one would conclude that neither is easy to 
maintain. To some extent each may be either 
a cause or an effect of the other, and whilst it 
is possible for the one to exist without the 
other, the two are usually found together 
either present or absent. 

It is for the reader himself (or herself) to 
determine whether, and, if so, to what extent, 
his (or her) faulty balance of body is the 
cause or the effect of his (or her) faulty balance 
of mind, and whether treatment should be 
applied to the one element or to the other, or 
to both elements. 

The writer will not treat specifically of the 
balance of the mind ; for on this point he is 


The Golf Swing 

ready to receive rather than to give advice ; 
but he will treat specifically of the balance of 
the body, and it will be agreed that any 
improvement in the balance of the golfer's 
body is likely to yield an improvement in the 
balance of his mind, as a natural consequence. 

The type of golfer who regards golf as a 
game that can be played by anybody, anyhow, 
finds satisfaction in pointing to differences in 
the method and style of first-class players. It 
is not, however, the differences, but the same- 
nesses, that are of real significance. Broadly 
speaking, indeed, all first-class golfers swing 
alike. The differences are differences of detail 
tricks of personality ; the samenesses are 

Not the least important of the samenesses is 
the perfection of body balance, the quality of 
the even keel. And, conversely, not the least 
important of the samenesses in the action of 
bad golfers is the absence of that quality. 

The average golfer does not appear to realize 
the close relationship which exists between the 
general method of swinging the club and the 
balance of the body. He thinks of the swing- 


FIG. 48. An ideally balanced position at the top of the up-s\vin< 

The Balance of the Body 

ing of the club as one thing, and of the 
balancing of the body as another thing, and he 
aims at securing balance by setting his feet 
wide apart and grimly trying to keep them 
flat on the turf throughout the swing. This, 
on the face of it, may not seem to be a wholly 
bad method. If the player keeps flat on both 
feet, it would appear to follow that he cannot 
get on to his toes, that he cannot jump, that he 
cannot fall away from the ball. But the reason- 
ing is false. Anything and everything may 
happen to the golfer who tries to root himself 
to earth in this manner anything and every- 
thing but good golf. For balance is not to be 
achieved by any short cut ; and the effort to 
do anything with the body or the legs or the 
feet, beyond allowing them to respond to the 
movement set up by the hands and ringers, is 
foredoomed to failure. 

There may, of course, be some first-class 
golfer, unknown to the writer, whose feet 
throughout the swing remain flat on the ground ; 
but if there is, he proves nothing except that 
genius, or perseverance, or both, can accom- 
plish most things. Subject to this reservation. 


The Golf Swing 

all first-class golfers allow the left knee and 
foot to give in the up-swing, and the right 
knee and foot to give in the follow-through, 
and all first-class golfers preserve an even keel. 

It is true that Sandy Herd and Edward Ray 
both sway appreciably in making their shots ; 
but a certain amount of sway is not incom- 
patible with a sustained balance of the body. 
Both Herd and Ray visualize a certain path 
for the club-head which the club-head could 
not follow unless the body were allowed to 
move outward to the right ; but in both cases 
this movement of the body is just as much 
a response to the movement set up by the 
hand and fingers as is the movement of the 
body in the case of the most perfect corkscrew 
twister. There is no golfer who conveys 
more emphatically than Ray the idea that the 
mastery of the club remains in the player's 
hands and fingers. At the same time, the 
writer does not agree with Ray when he says 
that his sway is the crowning ornament of a 
finished golfer's style. Fine golfer as Ray is, 
the writer always feels that he would have 
been a stroke or two a round still better had 



Sport and Ciincrul. 

FIG. 49. An ideally balanced position at the finish of the shot. 

The Balance of the Body 

he not made his golf a slightly more difficult, 
a slightly more uncertain, game than even golf 
need be. 

In the orthodox swing the hands and fingers 
initiate the action of winding the club-head 
round the body. When the club-head has been 
got under way a certain tension is felt in the 
body and legs, and unless this tension is relieved 
by the giving of the left knee and the left foot, 
the fingers will cease to control the club-head, 
the stiffness of the knee-joint will set up an 
obstacle to their proper functioning, and the 
balance of the body will be lost. Similarly, if 
the left knee gives before it receives impetus 
from the movement set up by the fingers, the 
mechanism will be put out of joint, and the 
balance of the body will again be lost. 

In the orthodox up-swing, the hips and 
shoulders must turn so that the left shoulder 
comes underneath the chin. How can anyone 
who is not an elastic man or a music-hall artist 
get into that position unless he allows a certain 
amount of pivoting to take place ? Could this 
turning movement possibly be made more 
difficult than by resolutely endeavouring to 


The Golf Swing 

keep the left foot flat and firm ? It is quite 
clear that something must go either the ribs 
or the spinal column, or the balance. Fortun- 
ately from the point of view of the death-roll, 
unfortunately from the point of view of golf, 
it is the balance that goes in most cases. 

The writer had a dear friend whose golfing 
life had been one long effort to acquire what 
it pleased him to call a firm stance ; but he 
could be guaranteed to lose his balance every 
time he essayed anything beyond a quarter- 
swing. Just before the war broke out he 
announced confidentially that he had discovered 
that the secret of a good balance was to plant 
the right foot firmly on the ground and then 
to stiffen the right leg so as to form a buttress 
which should support the whole body. He 
made an effort to put this great idea into 
practice, the buttress proved unequal to the 
strain, and the result was that there was one 
more cripple in this country and one less soldier 
than there would otherwise have been. (The 
number of golfers was not, however, affected.) 

It is true that in most treatises on golf the 
golfer is admonished to stand firm on his heels 


The Balance of the Body 

when he is addressing the ball; but in the 
writer's opinion that advice, having regard to 
the interpretation normally placed upon it, is 
bad. In the address the golfer should stand 
firm, not on his heels, but on his feet. It is 
with the ball of the foot and the big-toe, as 
well as the heel, that the good golfer feels 
himself gripping the turf. Any tendency to 
get the weight chiefly on to the toes must, of 
course, be checked ; but it should not be 
checked by going to the opposite extreme 
of keeping as much weight as possible on the 
heels. The pedagogy of golf is full of the 
pernicious plan of endeavouring to get rid of 
one fault by substituting another fault for it, 
and ithe golfer should ever be on his guard 
against it. To give the feet and legs liberty to 
move at the dictation of the fingers, is not 
to invite them to dance a tango or to pirouette in 
airy independence of the action of fingers, hands, 
and arms. There is a via media between an 
uncompromising rigidity and a fatuous freedom 
A certain type of golfer habitually keeps an 
even keel till somewhere about the moment of 
impact of club-head and ball. At that moment 


The Golf Swing 

he appears to explode, and the onlooker is 
surprised that a straight ball of good length is 
often the result. The explanation of this 
phenomenon of the links appears to be this : 
the player regards his duty as done when the 
ball has been hit his conception of the golf 
swing does not take him beyond that point 
and he ceases to apply power with the hands 
and fingers. The result is that the body, which 
is still under considerable momentum, continues 
its mad career without the sustained guidance 
and impetus of its natural leaders, and the swing 
ends in a sharp sequence of contortions instead 
of a statuesque repose. 

A perfect sense of balance, whether at the top 
of the up-swing or the finish of the down- 
swing, is only to be acquired by the free 
action of body, legs, and feet moving in response 
to the assertive action of hands and fingers. It 
is to be noted, however, that the specific object 
of continuous action of hands and fingers after 
the ball has been hit is not to secure a balanced 
finish, but to get the last fraction of speed out 
of the club-head ; for the player who aims at 
continuously developing speed in the club-head 


The Balance of the Body 

after the ball has gone will find it easier to 
move the club-head at its maximum speed at 
the moment of impact than he who has no 
thought of applying power after the ball has 
gone. The elements in the question are not 
only mechanical, but psychological. 

To resume. The balance of the body is an 
effect rather than a cause of good swinging ; 
if there is any fault of balance the cause is 
likely to be found in some fault of swinging (at 
some point or points in the swing, either the 
hands and fingers have been lazy, or the legs and 
body have interfered and not co-operated with 
them), and the cure is to be found in perfecting 
the swing. 

It may usefully be borne in mind that Ernest 
Jones, on coming out of a military hospital 
with one leg, played a round of golf, and found 
himself still on the one leg after every shot he 
played. One leg, then, is sufficient for balanc- 
ing purpose if the swing is sound, yet one 
knows long handicap men who find two legs 
wholly inadequate for the purpose, and who 
must surely envy the centipede. 

The sure guide to the feet is the fingers. 





THE text-books on golf all devote considerable 
space to the subject of stance. Most of them 
give a dissertation on the rival types of stance, 
the " square " and the " open," and adjudicate 
on their merits and defects ; they describe the 
stance which is considered best adapted for 
each of the various shots of the game ; the 
straight shot, the slice, the pull, the low ball, 
the high ball, and so on ; and they proceed to 
give measurements whereby, they allege, the 
correct stance for any shot in particular may be 

The basic principle underlying the bulk of 
this literature is that the swing is determined 
by the stance; witness the following dicta : 

" The stance being carefully chosen and analyzed, 
all that is left is to hold the club correctly. . . ." 


The Golf Swing 

" To gain this result . . . place your left 
foot more in line with the ball. . . ." 

" The swing is, from the position I have 
assumed, naturally a more upright one." 

" [The diagram] may serve a most useful 
purpose in helping him (the reader) to grasp 
quickly the principle that the swing must adjust 
itself to the stance. . . . I prefer to stand open, 
and my swing has, in consequence, adjusted itself 
in the manner described." J. H. TAYLOR. 

The italicizing is the writer's, but the quota- 
tions are taken almost at random, and they 
fairly represent the doctrine which is to 
be found, explicit or implicit, in almost every- 
thing that is written on the subject the 
doctrine that the natural order of events is first 
stance, then swing; that the stance is a set 
position consciously taken up by the player in 
order to produce a certain type of shot. But 
is this doctrine sound ? 

After all, what is the player's object when 
he stands up to the ball ? His object is simply 
to get into that position which will best give 



him (a) the direction he requires, and (b) the 
distance he requires. 

As regards direction, it is axiomatic that the 
ball will follow the direction in which the 
club-head is moving as it meets and " goes 
through " the ball. The player's position, then, 
must be such that when he makes his normal 
swing the club-head will meet the ball and "go 
through " it in the line of intended direction. 

How is the player to arrive at that position ? 
Should he take up his stance by placing his 
teet and shoulders, according to some method 
of measurement, in a certain relationship with 
the ball, and then make his swing, or should he 
allow his stance to adjust itself to the swing? 

According to the authorities, he should 
adopt the former course ; witness the following 
quotations, which are typical : 

" The true position the ball should occupy 
relatively to the feet, or, in other words, that 
which the feet should occupy in relation to 
the ball, is that in which the ball lies on an 
imaginary line drawn six or seven inches or so 
to the right of the left heel. . . . The toes 
should be turned slightly outwards." MASSY. 

H 97 

The Golf Swing 

" If you look at the photograph . . . you 
will observe that the toe of the left foot is on 
line ^, that is level with the ball, while the 
right foot is (say) twenty-five inches from the 
same line, whereas in an ordinary shot it is only 
nineteen inches." MASSY. 

" Refer to the diagram, and you will ob- 
serve that the ball should lie exactly between 
your feet, each of which is at twelve inches 
from the line ^, and something less than an 
inch nearer the ball than in the ordinary drive." 

" The right foot should be moved in a 
parallel direction with the line of flight until it 
is just touching the next white line. In other 
words, the foot should be just over six inches 
behind the ball." J. H. TAYLOR. 

" Place the feet so that the ball is in a line 
about six inches to the right of the left heel." 

The reader is asked to consider whether this 
sort of thing seems right; whether, on the face 
of it, it is likely that the fine, free, slashing 
movement known as the golf swing can be 
arrived at in this way ; whether the pro- 



fessionals who preach this doctrine practise it ; 
whether an analysis of their play suggests that 
they have anything of the kind in view when 
they stand up to the ball. . . . 

Let the reader now examine the alternative 
method, the method of deriving stance from 
swing. It has been seen that the player's 
position must be such that when he makes his 
normal swing the club-head will meet and " go 
through " the ball in the line of desired direc- 
tion. If he is not to take up a position in the 
manner laid down by the pundits, how is he to 
proceed ? 

It is suggested that he should make trial 
swings over the ball until he finds the position in 
which the club-head is moving along the line 
of desired direction as it passes over the ball. 
That position is his stance. As he advances in 
experience he will be able to dispense with the 
trial swing over the ball ; he will be able to 
make the necessary adjustments of his feet and 
shoulders as he waggles the club ; and in time 
he will take up the appropriate position 

What is true, moreover, for the normal 


The Golf Swing 

straight shot is equally true of the u advanced " 
shots, the intentional slice and pull, the low 
ball against the wind, the high ball down wind, 
and so on. In setting out to make any kind of 
shot, the first thing to do is to visualize the 
shot required, and the path which the club- 
head must take if the shot is to be achieved ; 
the second thing to do is to find the position 
which allows the club-head to take that path. 

If a slice is required, then the golfer knows 
that as the club-head comes on to the ball it 
must be crossing the line of direction, that is 
to say, it must be coming in toward the 
player. He must therefore stand so that in 
making his ordinary* swing the club-head 
passes naturally in that direction. 

If a pull is required, then the golfer knows 
that, as the club-head " goes through " the ball, 
it must be crossing slightly the line of direction 
in an outward sense that is, away from the 
player. He must stand therefore so that in 
making his ordinary swing the club-head passes 
naturally in that direction. 

In the case of the low shot against the wind, it 

* The player is not called upon to juggle with the club. 


is clear that, as the club-head " goes through yi 
the ball, it must be descending and tending to 
keep to the turf as long as possible. In swing- 
ing the club with that behaviour of the club- 
head in view, the player will naturally tend to 
keep his weight forward on his left foot. 

In the case of the high shot down wind the 
mental picture will be the opposite one : the 
club-head must be tending to rise sharply as it 
"goes through" the ball, and the players weight 
will naturally be kept well back on the right foot, 
in order that the club-head may take that path. 

Such, it is submitted, is the proper view of 
stance in so far as the direction is concerned. 
It now remains to consider stance in relation to 
the length of the shot. The text books are 
again prolific in suggestions for the use of the 
inch-tape and for the use of the club-shaft as a 
stance guide. Thus Braid : " As a general rule, 
the player should stand just so far from the ball 
that when the face of the club is laid against it, 
the end of the shaft just reaches to his left knee 
when the latter has got just a suspicion of a 
bend in it." 

This kind of advice may be well meant, but 


The Golf Swing 

it is ill-conceived. It is not only bad in 
itself, it is bad because it suggests an entirely 
wrong attitude to the shot and the game. 
There is no spectacle on the links more pathetic 
than that of the player whose mind is atrophied 
and whose bones are stiff with this kind of 
doctrine. Uric acid is not more insidious or 
more deadly. It is~ one of the pleasures, 
and part of the pride, of Ernest Jones that his 
pupils never look as though they had been 
taught golf. They proceed from cause to effect 
and stand up to the ball as though they were 
going to hit it, and to enjoy hitting it not as 
though they were doing a medieval penance, or 
entering a torture-chamber, or bracing them- 
selves for the crack of doom, or performing a re- 
ligious rite, or setting a theodolite. . . . All that 
the player has to do is to stand up to the ball so 
that he can swing freely, forcefully, and accu- 
rately that is really all that can usefully be said 
about it. Obviously, if he stands beyond a 
certain distance away from the ball he will lose 
his balance and, with it, accuracy, and he will 
stretch out his arms and stiffen his shoulders so 
that he must lose freedom and power. And, 


obviously, if he approaches beyond a certain dis- 
tance towards the ball, his swing will be cramped 
and ineffective. A few experiments and a little 
thought will teach him all that can be learned. 

The writer passes to the question of the 
square and the open stance, a question magnilo- 
quently described by one of golfs journalists as 
" The Battle of the Stances " a thing ranking 
in importance, apparently, with Marathon and 
the Battle of the Marne. 

The impression of the open stance normally 
conveyed in the textbooks is that the player's 
body is so turned that a line across the player's 
shoulders is approximately parallel with a line 
across his toes that the player is, in fact, 
turned more or less toward the hole. 
Thus Webb : " The player should slightly face 
the hole." But this is not so. The difference 
between the open and the square stances Is essentially 
a difference in the position of the feet, the difference 
in the position of the shoulders and hips being slight 
almost negligible. The failure to realize 
these facts leads to endless confusion. 

" Slicing," says Braid, " is commonly due to 
a faulty stance ... the right foot too far 


The Golf Swing 

forward." Again : " The most elementary 
direction for obtaining a sliced ball is to take your 
stance with your right foot advanced." And 
Vardon : " In playing for the slice, the stance 
should be open." The books are, indeed, 
practically unanimous on the point. They 
speak continually of the feet, and if they refer, 
directly or indirectly to the shoulders or hips, 
they usually mislead. They suggest that the 
open stance and the slicing stance are one and 
the same thing ; they do not point out that it 
is the forward position of the right shoulder 
that gives slice, and they do not warn the 
player that in the ordinary open stance the 
stance which gives the straight ball equally 
with the square stance the right shoulder 
must be kept back, and in no circumstances 
allowed to come forward to the extent suggested 
by the advanced position of the right foot. 

If it were the fact that in the open stance 
the shoulders did follow the line of the feet, 
then the open stance would properly be called 
the slicing stance, as the player can readily 
prove to his own satisfaction. Let him stand 
up to the ball in the position just indicated and 



make an experimental swing over the ball, 
observing the path of the club-head as the ball 
is passed. He will find that as the club-head 
passes over the ball it is swinging, not in the 
line of intended direction, but across that line. 
The stance he has taken up is, in fact, the 
position in which he would have found 
himself had he stood up to the ball with a view 
to the club-head crossing the line of direction 
that is, with a view to slicing. 

The player is now asked to stand up to the 
ball (without thinking for a moment about the 
position of his feet) so that when he makes his 
experimental swing the club-head shall pass over 
the ball in the line of intended direction. That is 
to say, he is asked to stand up to the ball as 
though he were about to make an ordinary 
straight shot. Let him now notice the position 
of his feet. They may be set either " open " or 
" square." If they are open, let them be placed 
square. If they are square, let them be placed 
open. It will be found that this operation can 
be done with only a very slight adjustment of 
the line of the shoulders or the line of the hips, 
and that if the experimental swing over the ball 


The Golf Swing 

is repeated, the course of the club-head will 
not be changed. The moment, however, 
that the line of the shoulders or the line ot 
the hips, is materially interfered with, that 
moment a fresh direction will be determined for 
the club-head, with corresponding results in the 

It will thus be seen that in analyzing a 
player's stance the essential characteristic to be 
noted is the line of the shoulders (and the hips), 
and not the position of the feet ; for the position 
of the feet may be varied, within limits, at the 
caprice of the player. In the slicing stance the 
line of the shoulders is turned towards the hole. 
And, of course, the converse holds good, the 
line of the shoulders in the pulling stance 
being turned away from the hole. 

The vital point to observe in the stance for 
the straight shot is that whether the feet be open 
or square, the right shoulder is well back. It 
is the position which that shoulder must take 
if the player sets about finding the stance by 
reference to his swing. The player who has 
this mental attitude to the stance will instinc- 
tively adopt a position in which his head 

1 06 


will be turned slightly away from the line 
of direction ; he will have in mind a type 
of swing based on a back-handed " swipe " at 
the ball with the left hand and arm. Observa- 
tion of any expert golfer, whether he stand open 
or square, will show that his head in the address 
is turned away from the line of direction, and 
if the backward position of the right shoulder is 
less noticeable, the player will tell you that the 
feeling he has is that the right shoulder is back. 
This feeling is one of the fundamentals of golf. 
This does not mean, of course, that the beginner 
must place his right shoulder back when he is 
addressing the ball, for the position is an effect, 
not a cause. His right shoulder will automati- 
cally take its proper position if he has a proper 
mental picture of the shot. 

To recapitulate. The writer submits that it 
is no part of the player's business to think of 
the shot in terms of stance. To do that is to 
put the cart before the horse, to confuse effect 
and cause. The stance is determined absolutely 
and entirely by the swing. It is the swing, and 
the swing alone, which conditions the stance. 
When the player has learned to swing the club, 


The Golf Swing 

he will have nothing to learn about stance. 
Until he has learned to swing the club, he can 
learn nothing about stance. It is for these 
reasons that the writer believes that the 
teaching of the text-books is unsound the 
more, not the less unsound, because that teaching 
is aimed at the beginner. It is quite true that 
a beginner who has not acquired the art ot 
swinging the club may perform less egregiously 
if he measures out his stance with the help of 
his club-shaft and an inch-tape. The player 
who tries to hit the ball when the club-head is 
the length of the shaft from the left knee will, 
caeteris paribus, fail less miserably than the man 
who can only reach the ball by adroitly spring- 
ing forward at a well-chosen moment in the 
down-swing; and similarly the chances of hitting 
the ball are undoubtedly increased when the feet 
are out of the way. But, after all, even the 
person who takes up golf should be presumed to 
have some intelligence, and it is only fair to him 
to ask him to use it. It is obviously not good for 
the beginner to get hold of the right end of the 
club if he gets hold of the wrong end of the 




IT is the custom to speak of any movement 
which allows the club-shaft in the up-swing to 
pass appreciably beyond the horizontal position 
as over-swinging. It does not matter how this 
position is achieved, whether by relaxing the 
grip or by carrying the club high over the 
shoulders, or by both processes combined it is 
glibly called over-swinging. 

Observation shows that the few players who 
really control the club usually have an up-swing 
in which the horizontal position is not appreci- 
ably passed, and that the many players who fail 
to control the club usually have an up-swing 
(or rather an upward movement) in which that 
position is left far behind ; and these co- 
incidences invite the inference that the test of 
over-swinging is to be found in the length of 

i n 

The Golf Swing 

In the days of the gutty ball, however, no 
golfer worthy of the name was content with 
an up-swing which failed to give the club-head 
a close view of the left heel witness illustration 
of such famous players as Douglas Rolland and 
Lady Margaret Scott ; and it would be absurd 
to suggest that this fulness of movement was 
mere rhetoric something flowing out of the 
exuberant egotism of the player rather than the 
stern necessities involved by the stolidity of the 
ball and the length of the club. It would also 
be absurd to suggest that the good player of those 
days failed in complete control of the club. 

It must therefore be admitted that there is no 
essential incompatibility between complete con- 
trol of the club and a luxuriantly prolonged up- 
swing, and that, inasmuch as controlled swing- 
ing can never be over-swinging the two terms 
are contradictory the test of over-swinging is 
to be found elsewhere than in the length of the 
up-swing alone. 

Lady Margaret Scott threatening her left 
heel in the up-swing and her right heel in the 
follow-through, yet controlled her club. Mrs. 
X., whilst falling far short of the former 

I 12 


achievement, falls still further short of the 
latter. What is the difference between the 
swing of Lady Margaret Scott and the swing of 
Mrs. X. ? The difference lies in the fact that 
the swing of Lady Margaret Scott was a 
swing, and that the swing of Mrs. X. is not a 
swing at all. One proceeds inevitably to the 
generalization that the person who can swing a 
club will never over-swing it, and that what is 
called over-swinging is simply not swinging at 
all. The logical conclusion is that the cure for 
what is called over-swinging is to be found in 
learning to swing, and not, as is popularly 
supposed, in shortening the swing. 

Though Lady Margaret Scott might choose 
to allow the club-head to coquet with her heels, 
she never permitted the club-shaft to toy with 
her shoulders. On the other hand, no such 
restraint on the club-shaft is imposed by 
Mrs. X. 

What happens in the " swing " of Mrs. X. is 
this : (i) Instead of being set in motion by 
hand and finger work, the club is pulled away 
from the ball by the premature turning of the 
shoulders. (2) Instead of being incessantly 

i 113 

The Golf Swing 

moved round the body by hand and finger work, 
the club is lifted more or less vertically upward, 
and the shoulders having expended their energy 
too soon, now find themselves without stimulus 
to further action ; they therefore cease to turn. 
(3) The whole mechanism is by this time out 
of gear the movement is obviously incomplete ; 
the player's position is cramped and feeble : 
she must free herself somehow ; but the body 
is rigid and the arms have gone as far as they 
will go. Something has to give way the 
fingers oblige, the grip is relaxed, the club-shaft 
strikes the shoulder and rebounds. (And this 
rebound is the beginning of the down-swing !) 
Instead of an up-swing, there are three move- 
ments a drag, a lift, and a flop and the 
down-swing is inaugurated with a jerk ! 

Now, what is the attitude of Mrs. X. to her 
incompetence ? As a rule she resigns herself 
to what she deems to be the inevitable it is 
not, she argues, given to everyone to play like a 
professional, and it is evidently in the nature of 
things that she should drag, lift, flop, and jerk 
the club rather than swing it. ... But Mrs. X. 
may be of different texture. She may be deter- 



mined to rid herself of the scourge at all costs. 
How does she set about it in the normal case ? 

In the first place she makes a wrong diag- 
nosis. She commits the cardinal error of 
confusing symptom with disease. She regards 
the flop as the disease ; she ignores the drag and 
the lift which precede it. To her mind the 
movement goes wrong at the moment she 
relaxes her grip, and not before. Alternative 
methods of treatment promptly suggest them- 
selves to her. The first is to maintain at all 
costs a fiercely tight grip throughout the 
movement. The second is to stop the move- 
ment before the temptation to relax the grip 
becomes pronounced. The effects of the first 
method need not be dwelt upon. It is enough 
to say that golf can never be amongst them. 
The second method may usefully be analyzed. 

What is Mrs. X. left with when she has 
eliminated the "flop" from the upward move- 
ment of her club ? Is it anything more nearly 
resembling a swing than it was before ? It is 
not. She has made no material alteration in her 
action. She has left the root and the stalk of 
the weed and merely cut offthe flower. Instead 

The Golf Swing 

of drag, lift, and flop, her action is now drag and 
lift. That is all. Mrs. X. doubtless regards 
herself as a short swinger. But she is not. She 
is merely a caricature of a short swinger. Even 
the short swinger must be given his due. . . . 

What, then, is the typical action of the short 
swinger ? 

The short swing properly so called is a swing 
which is quite sound as far as it goes (Fig. 52). 
It is the ordinary up-swing stopped short of its 
maturity. It is, in fact, the swing normally 
adopted for an iron shot. It is the ideal swing 
for an iron shot because it lends itself to the 
exact placing of the ball. It is not the ideal swing 
for a wooden club shot (in ordinary circum- 
stances) because a longer swing will give greater 
distance and as much accuracy of direction as is 
normally required in a shot with a wooden 
club. The question, it will be observed, is, 
like most other questions, one of compromise. 
Every shot in the game must have two 
qualities a certain length and a certain degree 
of accuracy. The proportion between these 
two qualities varies in different shots, and the 
type of swing varies with it. Normally the full 



shot with a wooden club is the one in which the 
element of accuracy is most subordinated to 
the element of length. But even in this shot 
only a small degree of variation is possible, and 
the swing must therefore always be thoroughly 
controlled whatever its length. 

It has been seen that the players of a past 
generation were able to control a longer swing 
(see Fig. 50) than the swing now favoured. 
But experiment will show that the difficulty 
of control is increased when the swing is 
lengthened beyond a certain point. 

The problem presents itself in this way. 
The gutty ball is an unresponsive thing com- 
pared with the rubber-cored ball. It requires 
a greater effort to drive it a given distance, but 
its behaviour on being miss-hit is less erratic. 
In these circumstances the golfer was pre- 
occupied in getting the utmost length of which 
he was capable, knowing that if he did not hit 
the ball quite accurately so long as he hit it 
freely it would not behave in the eccentric 
manner of the modern rubber-core. In other 
words, of the two qualities of accuracy and 
length, he could afford to think more of the 


The Golf Swing 

latter than the former. He chose, therefore, a 
club with a long shaft, and adopted largely 
as a consequence of using a long-shafted club 
a long and exuberant swing. 

With the modern ball, however, it is found 
that no greater distance is obtained by using a 
long-shafted club and prolonging the up-swing 
beyond a certain point, whilst accuracy is 
endangered ; and the expert wisely contents 
himself with an up-swing finishing in the 
region of the horizontal position. But this 
up-swing, though short in comparison with 
the up-swing of twenty years ago, is a complete 
up-swing. The club is taken back as far as it 
will go on the basis adopted. The hands and 
arms have described a spiral round the body and 
the body has twisted in response, and the club 
comes to rest at the top of the up-swing, not 
because the player actively stops it at that point, 
but because fingers, hands, arms, body, legs and 
feet have completed their work (Fig. 48). If 
the club went further, the player would fare 
worse he would be a surgical case. 

It is of the very essence of the golf swing 
that the club-head should be kept moving 



all the time. " Keep the club-head moving " 
might well be substituted for " Keep the home 
fires burning." And the shoulder hitter who 
thinks to cure himself of his disease by stopping 
the club at a chosen point in the up-swing is 
" flying in the face of Providence." He 
wantonly stops the movement of the club at 
the very moment when the hands and fingers 
should be forcing it into a position of precision 
and power. Let him take his courage as well 
as the club in both hands, and at the point 
when he imagines the fatal flop is about to 
begin, let him force the club-head resolutely 
further behind his head by persistent hand and 
finger action. He will then find that the 
shaft will not strike his shoulder, and that the 
up-swing will stop when the hands and fingers 
have accomplished the fullest natural move- 
ment of which they are capable. 

Under-swinging is not less of a vice than 
over-swinging, and the golfer should always be 
on his guard against it. For under-swinging 
is neither more nor less than the failure to 
make full use of the hands and fingers. It 
is just as easy to under-swing in a short 


The Golf Swing 

mashie chip as in a full swing ; for even 
in a short mashie chip the hands and fingers 
should function to the fullest extent possible 
having regard to the type of the shot. 

It is this determination to move the club- 
head as far as possible with the hands and 
fingers at every point in the swing which is at 
the root of all good golf. It precludes the 
possibility of relaxing the grip, of shoulder- 
hitting, and other pathetic symptoms of incom- 
petence (see Figs. 51 and 53) ; and it allows the 
player to get the utmost speed and the finest 
precision out of that good servant, but bad 
master, that faithful friend, but bitter enemy 
the club-head. 





IT is one of the many ironies of golf that some 
of its maladies beset the mature player almost 
equally with the novice ; and of these maladies 
socketing is perhaps the chief. Not even 
players of the first flight are immune from it. 
The writer knows many scratch and plus 
players whom it victimizes from time to time 
occasionally over long periods. One of 
these is an English international of golf-wide 
reputation who distinguished himself in an 
international match by an orgy of socketing, 
resulting (so far as international matches are 
concerned) in a record round for the number of 
holes lost. Another is an open champion 
who for months failed to hit a mashie shot off 
the middle of the club-face except by accident. 
It is, of course, to be expected that the 
novice should be capable of any golfing 


The Golf Swing 

enormity he may give at the knees, he may 
fall forward whilst trying to hit the ball, he 
may refuse to work his elbow-joints, he may 
do a score of things he ought not to do and 
socketed shots may be the result of any one of 
them. For him there is but one method of 
treatment : he must learn to swing properly ; 
and there is nothing more to be said. But the 
case of the mature golfer who falls a victim to 
socketing may be analyzed usefully ; for his 
knowledge of the game is such that he is able 
to appreciate points which could but befog the 

As first sight it seems that there must be 
something in socketing which even in golf is 
unusually mysterious. The writer is, however,, 
of the opinion that the mysterious element is 
rather apparent than real, and that the prac- 
tised eye can always trace the germ of the 
disease in the normal action of any mature 
player who is capable of periods of socket- 

The player is recommended to analyze 
the normal socketed shot on the following 
lines : 


FIG. 56. The socketing position far excellence. 


(1) To note the position in which he finds 

himself, and the position in which 

he finds the club-head, at the finish 
of the faulty shot. 

(2) To compare these positions with the 

corresponding positions in the correct 

(3) To discover what method he would 

adopt if he wished to commit the 
fault he is trying to cure. 

(4) To compare this method with the 

method of attaining the correct 

(5) To locate by means of the comparison 

the point at which the differentia- 
tion begins, and to identify the par- 
ticular action which distinguishes the 
correct shot from the faulty shot. 


Proceeding on these lines, the writer offers 
the following observations on the socketed shot : 


The Golf Swing 

1 i ) (a) The player's right shoulder has not 

followed on in its natural curve ; 
its movement has been checked at 
some point either before or at the 
moment of impact. 

(^) The club-head has finished, not to 
the left, but to the right of the line 
of desired direction. 

(2) In the diagram, AOB represents the 

line of desired direction, XOT the 
path of the club-head, XOZ the path 
the club-head should have taken. 

(3) Experiment will at once show that in 

order to make the club-head take 
the line XOT^ the best plan is 
(i.) to keep the right shoulder from 

turning ; 
(ii.) to keep the hands and fingers 

inactive ; and 

(iii.) to push the club-head out in the 
line OT by straightening out the 
right arm at the elbow-joint, and by 
preventing the right forearm from 
turning from right to left. 

Sport and General. 

Fi<;. 57. An ideal finish. 


(4), When the club-head takes the proper 

line XOZ t it is found 
(i.) that the right shoulder responds to the 

pull of the club-head ; 
(ii.) that the hands and fingers assert 
themselves and make the club-head 
do its work ; and 

(iii.) that there is no stiffness anywhere, 
the right forearm turning freely 
from right to left in response to the 
impulse set up by the hands and 

(5) The differentiating movement is really 
performed by the hands and ringers. 
If these are made to do their work 
and the body and arms are allowed to 
move so as to give them free play, 
the club-head will take, not the line 
Or, but the line OZ. 

The reader will probably have noticed some 
similarity in the behaviour of the club-head in 
the socketing shot and the behaviour of the 
club-head in the cut-mashie shot. Indeed, 


The Golf Swing 

socketing is often the outcome of playing the 
cut-mashie shot with stiff forearms. 

The cut-mashie shot can, however, be played 
with safety if two points are borne in mind : 

(i.) The directing energy should be 
determinedly applied through the 
hands and fingers; and 

(ii.) The club-head should travel, not 
in the line XOT, but in the line 

[In the up-swing it should travel outside 
the line of direction, and in the 
follow-through inside that line, 
whereas in the socketing movement 
it travels, in the up-swing, inside 
the line of direction, and, in the 
follow-through, outside that line.] 

The push-shot (Fig. 58), even more than 
the cut-mashie shot, bears certain outward re- 
semblances, and oftener than not, alas ! certain 
inward resemblances, to the socketed shot 
(Fig. 56). 

In the push-shot there is, of course, consider- 
able firmness of wrist and forearm ; the club- 


and General. 

Fie;. 58. The push shot. 

FIG. 59. Note the delicacy and freedom of the finish of this iron shot. 


head follows through further on the line of 
flight than in the ordinary iron shot ; and the 
toe of the club does not get in front of the 
heel. The margin of error is obviously small. 
If instead of taking the line XOZ, the club- 
head goes outward ever so slightly in the line 
XOT, the shot will be socketed. 

Nearly all the textbooks and nearly all the 
teachers make a fetish of the essential difference 
between the iron shot (ordinary as well as 
push) and the swing with the wooden clubs. 
The player is told that in playing his irons the 
grip must be firmer, the arms and wrists tauter, 
the body more rigid, the up-swing shorter, 
and so on. 

The effect of this teaching is to stiffen and 
cramp the iron play, even of many first-class 
players : in a word, to implant in it the seed ot 
socketing, a disease which, it is vital to note, is 
practically confined to play with iron clubs and 
has no counterpart in wooden club play. There 
is no essential difference in the manipulation oi 
iron and wooden clubs, and socketing would 
be rarer if this fact were recognized and iron 
shots were made with some of the freedom 

K 129 

The Golf Swing 

which distinguishes wooden-club play. The 
golfer must gain control of the club whether 
iron or wood in his hands and fingers. He 
must know clearly the manner of the flight of 
the ball that inevitably results from a certain 
type of swing, and he must make the club-head 
perform the desired type of swing by means of 
appropriate hand and finger action. If he 
wants to force an iron shot against the wind, 
he will obviously not flick the ball lightly into 
the air with a delicate movement of the fingers ; 
he will beat it down and forward by actions at 
once definite and powerful. But those definite 
and powerful actions should be the result of 
hand and finger work consciously applied. 
They should not be the result as is so per- 
sistently urged by those who mistake symptoms 
for causes of holding the body, the forearms, 
and the wrists rigid or of gripping the club 
with vice-like pressure. 

If the seat of control is in the hands and 
fingers, the player can produce any one type of 
shot as readily as any other type of shot. It is 
just as easy for him to make the club-head 
finish in front of him, as in the push-shot, as to 


a'ltf General. 

FIG. 60. The finish of a firm iron shot. 


swing it heroically over his left shoulder. If the 
club-head stops in front of him he will notice 
that the forearms and wrists are taut. He has, 
in fact, produced the shot in such a manner that 
the wrists and forearms must be taut. This is 
a totally different matter from trying to produce 
the shot by means of taut wrists and forearms. 
The difference is the difference between cause 
and effect. Thus in the case of the push-shot, 
if the player aims at producing the shot in the 
correct manner that is, by a movement of the 
club-head dominated by the ringers he will 
never be likely to socket. If, however, he 
aims at producing the shot by stiffening certain 
limbs and muscles, he will never despite any 
success he may achieve be an entirely sound 
golfer ; he will always be more or less liable to 
lapses from form, and amongst the lapses 
socketing will most probably find a place. 

The following propositions are offered for 
the reader's consideration : 

The player can never socket who keeps 
control of the club in his hands and fingers 
and does not interfere with the responsive 

The Golf Swing 

Socketing may occur whenever the stiffening 
of the arms or wrists or body interferes with 
the full and free working out of the swing at 
the instance of the hands and fingers. 

The time-honoured doctrine of accentuating 
the follow-through along the line of flight or 
throwing the arms out after the ball, is a 
dangerous one ; it tends to devitalize hand and 
finger work, to stiffen the forearms, and to put 
the line of the follow-through out of true 
relation to the line of the up-swing. 

The caddy's advice to stand further away 
from the ball is pernicious ; if carried out, it is 
likely to accentuate the stiffness which is the 
cause of the disease. 

The advice of the club-seller to buy a set of 
non-socketing irons should be ignored even by 
millionaires. Non-socketing irons have one 
grave defect : they socket. 

The advice to keep the right elbow close to 
the side, the right arm close to the body, and 
the left elbow close to the side, is not good ; 
these positions are symptoms, not causes, of 
properly hit shots ; and if the player concen- 
trates on making his swing conform with a 

FIGS. 6 1 and 62. Two perfect iron shots. 
Note the essential similarity of the posi- 
tions. Xo suspicion of stiffness or rigidity. 


number of fixed points instead of so producing 
the swing that it must conform with those 
fixed points, he will inevitably deaden it. The 
true golf-swing is to be achieved, not by placing 
the body and the limbs into a series of carefully 
chosen positions, but by learning how to 
communicate life to the club-head through the 
fingers. The artist gives life to his line, not 
by tracing the line through a series of points, 
but by making one unfettered sweep of the 
pencil he communicates life to the line 
through the fingers. . . . 

The socketer will appreciate that alternatives 
are open to him : one is to learn to swing 
properly ; the other is to give up the game. 
The writer apprehends that the former course 
will normally be followed as being the easier 
of the two. 


FIG. 63. Finis. 






SCLAFFING and digging differ from most faults 
in that the player is conscious of them before 
the ball is hit away. In both cases the club- 
head meets the ground before it reaches the 
ball; but though the two faults have this point 
in common, they are essentially different. In 
the sclaffed shot the club-head passes more or 
less lightly along the turf, the rhythm of the 
shot is not necessarily lost, and the speed of the 
club-head may not be seriously reduced. But 
in the shot known as digging, the club- 
head digs into the turf, the rhythm of the 
shot if it ever had rhythm is inevitably 
destroyed, and the movement of the club-head 
is piteously retarded. Sclaffing is by no means 
synonymous with foozling ; digging is one of 
the most common forms of foozling. 

An analysis of digging will show that in the 


The Golf Swing 

down-swing the right side of the body has been 
relaxed, and that the right shoulder and prob- 
ably the right knee have dropped. In short, 
the hands and fingers have failed to assert them- 
selves, and the action has been led by the body. 
The player has really been trying to help the 
club-head on to the ball with his shoulder, 
instead of controlling the club-head with the 
hands and fingers and allowing the body to 
respond. It will be found that it is difficult to 
drop the shoulder if the swing is definitely 
made by means of vigorous hand and finger 
action; but that the moment that notion is lost 
sight of, the body will come lumbering in, to 
the utter ruin of the shot. 

As regards sclaffing^ the player will gain 
insight into the disease by asking himself how 
he would produce a sclafF if a sclaft were 
desired. He would stand in such a position 
that the club-head would reach its lowest point 
in the down-swing before it reached the ball. 
That is to say, he would stand a little farther 
away from the hole than he would normally do. 
It is clear, then, that a false stance may be respon- 
sible for sclaffing. As pointed out in the chapter 


Some other Enormities 

on faults of stance, the stance should always be 
determined by the swing ; and if the method 
of arriving at stance is followed, the player can 
obviously never suffer from the kind of sclaffing 
that comes from a wrong stance. 

Is there any other easy way of sclaffing? If 
instead of allowing his body to be pulled 
through after the club-head, the player keeps 
his body back so that his weight at the end of 
the swing remains largely on the right foot, he 
will find sclaffing quite simple. And such 
sclaffing may permit of quite useful shots being 
made. For here the hands and wrists are doing 
their good work, and it is only the body that 
lags to some extent. The cure for this type ot 
sclaffing is obvious. The player must let his 
hands work out his salvation by placing him- 
self unreservedly in their hands, so to speak. 
His body must be like the child it must not 
speak till it is spoken to, but when it is spoken 
to it must answer cheerfully and not grudgingly. 


The player will find this operation easy if he 
determines to use his right hand for the 


The Golf Swing 

purpose of turning the club-face over toward 
the turf as the club-head strikes the ball ; and 
the operation will be facilitated if in making 
the shot he allows his body to turn prematurely 
so bringing his weight prematurely forward. 
The confirmed " killer " should note carefully, 
in the correct shot, the angle of the face of the 
club with the ground, as the club comes on to 
the ball and in the succeeding two or three 
inches of its journey. He should get this 
picture clearly defined in his mind, and keep it 
vividly before him when he is making a shot. 
His movements will soon learn to paint the 
same picture. 


On the face of it, toeing appears to be the 
very antithesis of socketing, but the two things 
have much in common. In the chapter on 
socketing it has been shown that the easiest 
way to socket is, as the club-head comes on to 
the ball, to stiffen the elbow-joints and to fail 
to use the hands and fingers, the effect being 
that the body, no longer under any impulse to 
turn, stops, with the shoulders facing the 


Some other Enormities 

direction of the socketed shot. In the toed 
shot there is, as a rule, a somewhat similar 
failure of body action, but the hands at the last 
moment make a desperate effort to put things 
right and assert themselves. The club-head 
duly finishes on the left side of the line to the 
hole, but, the body being out of position, it is 
the toe of the club and not the middle of the 
face that meets the ball. The reader will not 
find it difficult to " toe " in this manner. He 
has only to check the natural turning move- 
ment of the shoulders and to use his hands at 
the last moment to find that he can toe nine 
shots out of ten. If, moreover, he tires of this 
method, he can achieve the same result by 
going to the other extreme (how true this 
is of almost everything in golf!). Instead of 
arresting the turning of his body, let him 
encourage it to get always in front of its 
proper position at every point in the swing, and 
he will find toeing possible again not quite so 
easy as before, but still by no means beyond 
the average man's powers. Of course, if the 
player lifts his head as well, the operation will 
be still further simplified. 


The Golf Swing 


There is a strong tendency in making every 
golf shot to stiffen the wrists and forearms as 
the club-head comes on to the ball. The 
tendency is doubtless akin to the tendency to 
anticipate the kick of the gun in shooting. It 
takes *' quality " out of any shot and it utterly 
ruins the short approach, which may be two 
inches instead of two yards, or two yards 
instead of twenty. The player should practise 
these shots with one thing, and one thing only, 
in view, and that is to make the club-head 
move " through " the ball by means of per- 
sistent hand and finger work unimpeded by any 
stiffness of wrists or forearms. It will help 
him in this practice if he will consciously relax 
all his muscles and his grip except for the first 
two fingers and the thumb of each hand, and 
assertively make the club-head travel as far as 
possible having regard, of course, to the limi- 
tations imposed by the nature of the shot. 
Let him guard against (i) the tendency to 
cease to actuate the club-head by means of hand 
and finger work at some point near to the ball, 


Some other Enormities 

and (ii) the complementary tendency to stiffen 
the wrists and forearms at that moment. It is 
not enough for him to start the club-head down 
with a certain impetus and then to let it do the 
work. He must figure out the shot, and work 
out the shot, on the basis that his hands and 
fingers are going to keep the club-head moving 
all the time. 


These are (a) faults of direction, and (fr) 
faults of strength. 

Faults of Direction. As regards direction, 
the player has obviously to stand to the ball so 
that, in making the normal movement of the 
club, the club-head passes through the ball 
along the line of direction, with its face at right 
angles to that line. The stance matters little, 
provided it is conditioned by the swing. 

Faults of Strength. The writer suggests 
that the finest control of the putter is likely to 
be attained by the player who grips mainly 
between thumbs and forefingers, and persistently 
keeps the club-head moving by persistent finger 
work. In this way he gets the utmost out of 


The Golf Swing 

the club-head within the limits of any particular 
swing, and acquires a knowledge of what result 
to expect from the movement he sets out to 
make. He is better able to judge his effects 
than the player who checks the club-head and 
thereby introduces into an alarmingly uncertain 
thing still one more element of uncertainty. 
In this respect approach putting has much in 
common with mashie approaching. (At the 
same time the writer's advice to those players 
who can stab long putts up to the hole, and 
short putts into the hole, is to go on stabbing!) 

* * * * 

The faults which have been dealt with do 
not, of course, exhaust the whole tragedy of 
the game. Golf is not unlike Cleopatra age 
cannot wither her, nor custom stale her infinite 
variety. It is hoped, however, that the sugges- 
tions for diagnosis and treatment that have 
been given are sufficiently broad in principle 
and sufficiently precise in method to help the 
victim, no matter what his malady, to make a 
man of himself, and a golfer. 






IT is one of the misfortunes of golf that the 
correct playing of the shot should make a 
pretty picture ; the observer and the player 
as well is apt to become too much interested 
in the pretty picture, that is, in effect, and 
too little interested in the causes of which 
that effect is merely an expression. In no 
other game does the statuesque position 
occur so regularly. In golf it appears at the 
finish of almost every properly played shot, 
from the shortest of short approaches to the 
longest of long drives. The club, the hands 
and arms, the shoulders, the legs and feet, are 
all seen in a more or less stereotyped relation- 
ship, all in repose, the repose that is the logical 
result of well-directed effort, the repose that 


The Golf Swing 

invites the camera or even the sculptor's chisel. 
There is nothing comparable with this charac- 
teristic in, for example, baseball, football, 
cricket, tennis, or billiards. In those games 
the vitally interesting thing is the action by 
which the result is achieved, not the appearance 
of the performer when the action is being, or 
has been, made. And this fact doubtless 
explains to some extent why in golf the action 
of the average player looks, and indeed is, so 
much less spontaneous than in other games. 

The footballer kicking a football does not 
know, or think, or care, where his right knee 
or his left hip will be at any given moment in 
the operation of kicking. His mind sends a 
direction to his feet, and his feet obey if he is 
a good footballer, or disobey if he is a bad 
footballer. The billiard player is not at all 
concerned with the position in which he will 
be found at the finish of his stroke. He is not 
at any moment in the game an inspiring subject 
for the photographer, much less for the sculptor. 
He consequently gets on with the work. 
The mind directs the fingers and the fingers 
direct the cue. The elbows, arms, shoulders, 



body and legs also move ; they move, how- 
ever, not on their own account, but in response 
to the impetus in the cue set up by the action 
of the fingers. The person performing Indian 
club exercises never thinks for one moment 
about the position of his elbows or his knees. 
What he does think about all the time is the 
movement of the club, and the action of the 
hands and fingers by means of which that 
movement is produced. He is pre-eminently 
a creature of action, not a hero of repose, and 
he is not in the least degree interested in what 
his appearance may be at the end of any move- 
ment or sequence of movements that he may 

The footballer's mind is directed to the one 
point of contact toe and ball ; the Indian 
club performer's mind is directed to the one 
point of contact fingers and club ; the billiard 
player's mind is directed to the two points of 
contact, cue and ball, fingers and cue. And so 
the golfer's mind should be directed to the two 
points of contact, club and ball, hands and club. 

The golfer's object is to gain command of a 
golf club just in the same way as the Indian 


The Golf Swing 

club performer's object is to gain command of 
an Indian club. True, it is not necessary for 
the golfer when making his shot to twist his 
club about as though it were an Indian club. 
At the same time, the golfer should be able to 
twist it about in that manner. He should be 
able to swing the club about in his hands and 
fingers, freely and fluently in any direction. 
The pianist learns all sorts of exercises that 
never come actually into the performance of 
any piece of pianoforte music. He does so in 
order to gain command of his fingers. And in 
the same way, the golfer will do well to make 
any and every movement with his club that 
will increase his skill in manipulating it, 
increase his sense of intimacy with it, his 
feeling of power over it. When he is swinging 
the club about in this casual manner, whether 
with right hand or left hand, or with both 
hands, he will observe if it occurs to him to 
do so that though he thinks only of com- 
municating movement to the club by means of 
his hands and fingers, the forearms, the elbow 
joints, the shoulders, and probably the legs and 
feet, are also in action responsive action ; 


responsive in the sense that they move with- 
out any specific direction from the mind, but 
on the impulse created by the action of the 
hands and fingers in the club. If an attempt 
were made to swing the club about by using 
the hands and fingers to the exclusion of the 
action of other members of the body, that is to 
say, without the naturally responsive move- 
ments, the result would not only be stilted and 
powerless ; it would produce an appreciable 
strain on the muscles involved. 

This is exactly the stilted and powerless 
movement or series of movements that is 
known as mistiming the shot. Of the various 
parts of the body that should act in harmony, 
some parts act either out of harmony, or not at 
all. It is good to start the club-head by hand 
and finger action, but it is useless to do this 
unless forearms and upper arms and shoulders 
and hips and legs and feet and head are allowed 
to follow. Everything must " give " when the 
call comes except the grip of the thumb and 
forefinger of each hand ; for with an adequate 
grip there, control or the club can always be 
preserved without retarding any responsive 

The Golf Swing 

movement whatsoever. The responsive move- 
ments are just as vital to the proper execution 
of the shot as the initiatory movements. 

One of these responsive movements, as has 
been suggested, is the movement of the head. 

A still tongue may make a wise head, but 
a still head does not make a wise golfer, no 
matter what may have been said by the pundits 
to the contrary. And the pundits have spoken 
with no uncertain voice. Take a few examples : 

TAYLOR: "[The illustration] shows my head 
has been kept immovable during the back swing, 
a most important factor in accuracy." 

HERD: " Keep that necessary nuisance down 
as long as you can as though you had it in a 'vice. 
And keep it down for half a second after you 
have hit." 

MASSY : " The player must keep his head 
perfectly motionless." 

Vardon is so overwhelmed by the fetish that 
in his book, " How to Play Golf," he devotes 
a chapter to it, and recommends the player 
when practising to tie himself up to a contri- 
vance which tinkles a bell whenever the head 
moves ! 



But what is the fact ? The fact is that unless 
the head is allowed to give in the up-swing, in 
the down-swing, and in the follow-through, 
the movement will be cramped and in- 
effective. So long as a movement is purely a 
responsive movement it must not be interfered 

There are, of course, many movements of 
the head that are not responsive movements, 
just as there are many movements of the arms 
and shoulders and hips and legs and feet that 
are not responsive movements. And all such 
movements are bad and must be cut out. 

To what extent, then, are the movements of 
the head in the swing responsive movements ? 
The answer is to an extent which varies 
according to the build of the player and his 
mental picture of the swing. 

Take as an example Edward Ray, whose 
golf is well known on both sides of the Atlantic. 
Is Ray's head " immovable," " perfectly 
motionless," rigid as " in a vice "? On the 
contrary, it moves emphatically from left to 
right in the up-swing, and from right to left 
in the down-swing. It would ring Vardon's 


The Golf Swing 

little bell all the time. Yet Ray is a champion 

It is customary for pseudo-theorists to say 
that Ray is a genius and can do these odd 
things ; but Ray's view is that his apparently 
casual attitude to his head is the " crowning 
ornament " of his style. It is not, however, 
because Ray is a genius that he can move his 
head without fatal consequences ; nor is that 
movement the " crowning " ornament of his 
style. The swing which Ray visualises in his 
mind is not a swing made about a fixed vertical 
axis, but a swing made about an axis which is 
moved sideways thirty or forty degrees by the 
pull of the club-head. Ray can move his head 
without fatal consequences because he allows 
it to move, not on its own account, but in 
response to an impulse set up by the action of 
his hands and fingers. 

Whilst Ray is an extreme example of head 
movement, there is probably no first-class golfer 
whose head does not move in order to allow of 
a free and full development of the swing. 
Let the reader try to swing freely whilst 
keeping his head as rigid as if it were in a vice. 



The very idea of the head in a vice is enough 
to cramp his style. 

In these circumstances it will be seen that 
the cure for head-lifting is not to try to keep 
the head down till after the ball has been hit 
away. To try to do that will inevitably destroy 
the rhythm of the shot and so jerk the head 
up I The so-called cure must accentuate the 
disease. That is why players who experience 
a patch of head-lifting are so seldom able to 
get rid of it at will. The head must be allowed 
to move responsively and if it moves respon- 
sively it will move evenly. If, then, the player 
concentrate on hitting the ball he will not look 
up prematurely. In a word, if he can make 
the club-head obey his hands, his own head 
will obey the club-head. 

Another golfing fetish is the stiff left arm. 
The golfer is admonished to see to it that 
his left arm is kept extended throughout the 
swing. He is urged to do this consciously. 
But the extension of the left arm is an effect, 
not a cause. It is an effect of the proper action 
of the hands and fingers. When one attempts 
to catch a ball one does not think of extending 


The Golf Swing 

the arm ; one reaches out with the hands and 
fingers, and in doing so, one inevitably extends 
the arm. The extension of the arm is a natural 
result of the action of the hands and fingers. 
It is precisely so in the golf swing. 

Examples could be multiplied almost in- 
definitely. The golfer will now be able to find 
them for himself. And the great lesson for all 
golfers to learn is this: In the making of the 
swing two kinds of movements are involved, 
the initiatory and the responsive movements. 
For practical purposes the hands and fingers 
may be regarded as giving the initiatory move- 
ments, and the arms, shoulders, legs and feet as 
contributing the responsive movements. The 
hands and fingers should be assertive, masterful ; 
the other members of the body ever ready to 
respond to speak immediately they are spoken 
to, but not before. 




(i) In the ideal swing the hands and fingers 
force the pace all the time, and other members 
of the body and the body itself respond : they 
do no less ; they do no more. 

(ii) In the normal shot the club-head, at 
the moment of going through the ball, is 
moving on the line of intended direction, and 
the face of the club is at right angles to that 

(iii) The player stands to the ball so that in 
making the swing as in (i) the club-head 
behaves as in (ii). 

(iv) The player keeps his balance ; he does 
this by taking up his position as in (iii), by 
standing on his feet and not on his heels alone, 
and by swinging as in (i). 


When a fault creeps in, or smashes in, to a 
player's game he should proceed as follows : 
(a) Reflect that something has gone wrong 


The Golf Swing 

under one or more of the four heads set out 

(If) Resist the temptation to move ferociously 
or gloomily away from the scene of the outrage, 
and, instead, carefully note his position and the 
position of the club, so that he may know 
exactly what sort of caper he has cut. 

(c) Compare this position with the relative 
position in the correct shot, noting the points of 

(d] From the comparison ascertain the 
method by which the faulty shot can be pro- 


The player who can most readily produce the 
faulty shot by design is the player who is least 
likely either to produce the faulty shot by acci- 
dent or to be worried by it if he does. To 
know how to commit is to know how to cure. 


Here are a few of the basic ideas recapitu- 
lated. Golf is not a trick, and is not to be 
learned by trickery. Power is applied by and 
through the hands and fingers. All golfing faults 



are aspects of one root fault. Faults occur 
when the fingers have failed to lead or where 
the other members of the body have failed to 
follow. The player should have a clear mental 
picture of each shot. The player must learn 
to control the club. The club is a good 
servant, but a bad master. The body should 
not be kept back the hands and fingers should 
make the club-head lead. There must be no 
stiffness at any point of the swing. All joints 
and muscles should be free from tension except 
those concerned in the grip of the forefinger 
and thumb. Notably, the wrist and forearm 
and shoulders must be perfectly free. Control 
in the fingers, and freedom everywhere else 
that is the doctrine. The golfer who concen- 
trates on hitting and controlling the ball by the 
exertion of power through the hands and fingers 
will not want to look up. Head-lifting is not a 
disease, it is a symptom of disease : no golfer 
really impressed with the necessity of controlling 
the club will be in danger of prematurely lifting 
his head. The golfer should beware of stiffen- 
ing the wrist and forearm as the ball is hit 
unless it has to be punched out of a bad lie. 


The Golf Swing 

The tendency to stiffen the wrist and forearm, 
and all other evil tendencies, recede when the 
player concentrates throughout the swing on 
continuously applying impetus by and through 
the ringers. 

Even though approached from the simplest 
and the sanest point of view, it is apprehended 
that golf will still be found to be a sufficiently 
difficult and elusive game to keep the player's 
interest alive. Even Ernest Jones nods. 


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