This is the 2nd part of the Golf Rhythm series....
A good golfer can make the ball do two things which the bad or merely indifferent golfer cannot make it do.
- The good golfer can make the ball remain in the air a long time in the drive, or run a long way in the putt.
- The good golfer can make the ball fly, or run, dead straight.
Now these two attributes of a good shot are due to a profound knowledge of the golf mechanics plus good timing. That's the meaning of "golf rhythm".
Since I have been at Sunningdale I have played often with a delightful old Blackheath golfer, Mr. A.T. Turquand Young - father of the great English Rugby forward.
Though he is nearer eighty than seventy he is sweeping the ball off the tee perfectly, and, in addition to being academically faultless, his tee shots are almost as long as my own. His swing is an object lesson in effortless rhythm.
So one day I asked him to be so kind as to jot down how he came to swing so slowly and smoothly, how he came to get so far with so little effort.
And did he play directly with his hands and arms? He gave me the following with permission to include it in this blog-book.
"At the age of sixteen I found out in two things that 'slow movement' beat 'force' every time. One was in throwing the hammer, the other was in throwing a cricket ball. As a result of this experience, I began to play golf with as slow a swing as possible, getting the power from below the waist with the result that without any effort I became a very long driver even in the gutty period.
After a lapse of some years owing to illness I came back to the game just as good as when I left off, after an hour or so swinging with my clubs. The slow swing looks lazy, but the power is there and it certainly does not come from the arms and hands. Providing your back swing goes up all in one piece and your timing is correct, one can send the ball a very long way without effort. Of that there is no mistake, I know it from experience."
There you have it! Mr. Turquand Young found that "slow movement beat force every time" What a find - and what a grand age to make it at, sixteen!
Now as that story suggests, perfect mechanics alone are not sufficient in golf.
Let us try and examine the effect of accurate timing and see why it makes such a difference - the difference which we can all recognize between the almost perfectly timed shot and the perfectly timed one.
It hinges upon the fact that golf is a dead ball game.
We have to set the ball in motion from a state of rest and this largely accounts for the extraordinary complexity and subtlety of the game.
Good shots are easier to play in live ball games than they are in golf because the velocity at which the ball comes to us sets up a rebound, which together with the speed of the head of the implement we wield increases the speed of our return blow.
The relationship of ball velocity, club velocity, and rebound are simplified.
Now we can trace the two elements of rebound and club head speed in the drive, the longest of golf shots.
But now because the ball is "dead" their relationship is no longer simple.
It is necessary to get the correct proportion of each of these elements into the stroke or the resultant shot will not be perfect.
A slight overemphasis on either one or other of them completely changes the flight of the shot and such slight overemphasis in either direction is not a matter of golf mechanics but is due to a delicate inflection of timing.
Let us see how this arises.
It is generally assumed that the faster we swing the club head through the ball, the longer the ball will be.
This is true if, but only if, the maximum club head speed is attained just after we come into contact with the ball.
Hence the fact that we often get exceptionally long shots when we are trying to hit easy ones.
With the slower swing, the club head has still been accelerating when it made contact with the ball and so has been able to "stay longer with the ball" and so make use of the rebound.
We have timed a shot well only when we feel we have remained a long time in contact with the ball, "gathering it up and slinging it off the face of the club head" as I have called it.
If we are to do this, the club head must have sufficient power to take up the shock of impact and still keep accelerating.
If at the moment of impact we stop the forward pull of the left side (which is what we will do if we aim at the ball), this power is not available and the club head cannot, as it should, continue accelerating in contact with the ball until the ball rebounds from it.