You can't write something decent about golf without including something on golf rhythm, for rhythm is the very soul of golf. In this series I will try my best to tell you what I have discovered about golf rhythm.
That's not going to be easy with such an abstract and subtle subject, so I ask you to be patient with me.
Rhythm we know in ordinary circumstances as - flowing motion, and in golf this resolves itself into timed movements.
Let me start with an exceedingly practical example of what this means.
The most accepted theory is that as the club head approaches the ball your wrists will flick or become taut. When? you ask.
That has really never been defined, and the best definition I know of it is, "co-ordination of mind and muscle which enables the player to do exactly the right thing at the proper moment" ... so you must find your own. rhythm.
So we can start from the familiar word "timing," which is an advantage.
But though every golfer knows the word, fewer appreciate the significance of the sense which it represents. Because until timing does become a sense with us, a sense of something rhythmic, our attempts at co-relating movements can only be on a very crude mechanical basis.
It is stretching the phrase to talk of the "rhythm" by which a self-change gear box shifts gears, but a soaring seagull is charged with rhythm at its highest. The trouble with golf is that we are gear boxes trying to become seagulls.
We have to develop rhythm on a mechanical base.
We want rhythm, flowing movement, in our swing.
But as we have already discovered we have to dissect our swing before we can play it-just as a musician has to dissect a composition before he can even play the notes.
And please note that he may learn to play the notes and nothing more; that is he may never get as far as the rhythm and tone in which all the delicate beauty and meaning of music are hidden.
So also with our swings: we may have memorized the mechanics faultlessly and be able to perform them time after time, but, unless they can be blended by rhythm into a perfectly timed flowing whole, it will be a poor sort of soulless mechanical golf which we play.
For, to repeat, rhythm is the soul of golf.
When we watch a really good golfer, we are impressed, of course, by the beauty of his swing, but perhaps even more by the sensation of prolonged effortless flight which his shots produce on us.
They seem unaffected by the force of gravity, whereas our own poor efforts make for the earth at the earliest possible moment, which - as one of my students brightly suggested - may be why bad golfers are dubbed rabbits!
We will continue our discussion on golf rhythm in the following entries. However, if you are anxious to learn a bit more, you can always check out Joe Dante's take on golf rhythm and timing.