Final Instalment of Learning Golf with Inverse Functioning.
As I have said before, the swing is a continuous unbroken movement that cannot be cut into sections for analysis.
So I was delighted when one day an ardent pupil of mine remarked, "I can now play with my set in motion."
I was delighted (1) because he had presented me with a clever piece of sense phraseology, (2) because he must have truly sensed the golf shot in order to be able to make such a remark, and (3) because here was proof that after many years I had been able to teach what I feel to be the correct approach to the matter.
You have only to watch a great golfer to realize how much of his secret lies in his pre-shot attitude and approach.
To see him walk up to the ball and address it is all you need to tell you this is a golfer. His quality is demonstrated before his actual stroke, which merely confirms it.
His set is his game.
The set has two practical purposes, to induce the right movements and to eliminate faulty ones.
To take the second first, it is through his set that the good golfer feels his faults before he swings; the bad golfer only knows his after he has missed his shot.
It is because the good golfer has to induce the right feeling for that to induce the right movements, that men of the quality of Hagen, Cotton, and lately Locke are often blamed for being slow.
Personally I don't play slowly, but I certainly cannot play at all unless
I have time to contemplate and rehearse my shots.
Of course we can exaggerate this, as I think
Locke does, but we do need some time to get ourselves set or "in a condition for use."
Now, let us come back to the pivot and see how the inverse functioning of this is related to the set.
When I go up to address my ball, I do not think of pivoting (as you do); I think of following through. I think of the end, not the means. So if you and I are standing together on the tee, I am mentally playing my shot through to a finish while you are preparing to play yours, through your pivot-and it is quite likely that you will never get as far as the follow through except by luck.
You will be lucky if you hit the ball; I will be unlucky if I do not hit a one hundred per cent shot, since my feel is based upon what constitutes a good shot, while yours is based upon what prepares the way for the creation of a good shot-obviously much further back in the golf conception.
But the beginner or moderate player must not be-come discouraged.
We attain the ultimate in golf by stages of evolution and it is undesirable to jump a stage -those who do usually come a cropper.
If our evolution is gradual, it is all the better for it, for each stage is well founded before the next is added.
And concepts are like food-they need to be well masticated and digested before they can be any good to you.
There is another aspect of the concepts by which we play that is worth considering.
I will illustrate it by listing four things that the good golfer does that the bad golfer cannot or does not do.
The good golfer:
- (1)Twists his hips into the ball.
- (2)Thanks to (1), twists his shoulders into the ball.
- (3)Thanks to (2), keeps the feel of his club traveling outwards, and
- (4)Takes his divot out straight.
Now this is an interesting little study.
You will see that 1, 2, and 3 were all directed towards an effort to swing from in-to-out, yet as No. 4 proves he has played down the line of flight with his club head.
In short No. 4 is a result which can only be brought about by the setting up of 1,2, and 3, each of which appears to have a different aim.
Actually all the three factors 1,2, and 3 are illusion-ary. No. 3 is the easiest to prove this of.
It is only when we feel that we are swinging from in-to-out that we do play directly down the line of flight and take our divot out straight.
As to points 1 and 2, I suppose nothing in golf so puzzles the poor player as the way in which the good golfer keeps his right hip and shoulder inside, instead of letting them slop out and round.
Their puzzlement is due as usual to a wrong conception.
The bringing down of the right shoulder inside is not a thing that is done directly, a mechanical trick to be learned; it is a result of the proper conception of the timing of the golf swing.
Except for the initial start back from the ball, the golf swing is a one-after-the-other movement.
The feet are one extreme of this movement, the club head is the other; the former move through a very small arc, the latter through a wide one.
As a result, the feet finish their movement long before the club head does, if both are moving at the same pace as they should be in the initial stage.
The bad golfer, finding that his footwork would be completed long before his arms and club head had even got to the top of their arcs, waits with his feet so that he can come down with his feet, shoulders, arms, and club head all together.
This is why he comes down outside and is a bad golfer.
Footwork like everything else in the golf swing must be continuous.
It is this continuous, unchecked feel that sets up a flow of power.
And you can only come inside with your hips and shoulders if you keep your feet moving continuously ahead of your hips and shoulders.
This enables you to twist from inside and behind, behind both in position and in time.
If you ask if the altogether descent, with feet and hips and shoulders coming in at the same time, in evitably brings the right hip outside and around, I answer that it does, inevitably.
Today you must come down inside and swing from in-to-out to play championship golf. Why today?
Well, it was not always so. Vardon, Taylor, and Duncan seldom tried to get inside any shot.
Taylor told me himself that he had never been able to play a shot with intentional pull, and Harry Vardon rarely played a wooden shot to the green dead straight; there was almost always a slight fade or slice to it.
All of which was due, of course, to having learned with the old "guttie" ball; the chief difficulty with that ball being to make it rise quickly enough out of indifferent lies.
Naturally the slightly cut shot gave additional lift.
The last of the out-to-in school was George Duncan.
I remember vividly the championship occasion on which he had a spoon shot to play to the last hole at Sandwich to get a four and tie with Hagen.
He played for a slight slice which did not quite come off-the ball kept dead straight to where he had aimed, to the left-hand side of the green.
So he left himself with a chip shot to play and eventually took five.
I was standing behind him when he played the fatal spoon shot, and I realized then that I had witnessed the end of a great school of golfers.