The New Four Magic Moves To Winning Golf (P3)
What You Can Do
The answer, in the large general sense, is because the golf swing is extremely subtle. The essential actions are small actions, not readily seen with the naked eye, and from which attention is constantly diverted by the larger, more spectacular actions which surround them.
A second reason is that golf always has had the peculiar faculty of making its players think they were doing things that they were not doing at all, and vice versa. This led, a long time ago, to the establishment of a great many theories and principles which seemed sound and reasonable but which were altogether wrong.
For example around the time of World War I the late Jim Dante, one of the authors of The Nine Bad Shots of Golf, was a young assistant pro at the Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, New Jersey. Harry Vardon, the great English professional, was touring America. He played a round at Baltusrol and explained his theories and his teaching methods to the Baltusrol pro, the late George Low. Low later passed them on to his assistants.
“But Mr. Low,” objected the observant Dante, “Vardon doesn’t hit the ball the way he says to hit it.”
“The hell with how Vardon hits the ball!” roared Low. “You teach the way Vardon says, or look for another job.”
Eventually the advent of slow motion pictures showed that Dante was right. Vardon did not hit the ball as he said he did, which was as he thought he did. If the great Harry had ever swung at a ball with a throw of the club head from the top, as though to drive a stake into the ground (which was what he believed), he would never have won any tournament, much less six British Opens and one American.
This insidious incitement to self-delusion is without the slightest doubt one of the fundamental characteristics of golf. It accounts, perhaps more than any other one thing, for the painful slowness in the advancement of technique.
Just how slow this has been can be shown by one other example. Golf enjoyed wide popularity in Scotland as long ago as the middle of the fifteenth century. So many Scots were playing it that it interfered with the more important pursuit of archery, which was the means of national defense. In 1457, not long after the death of Joan of Arc and thirty-five years before Columbus sailed for the New World, the now famous edict of the Scottish parliament was issued which “decreed and ordained that wapinshawingis [passage or exhibition of arms] behalden by the lordis and baronis spirituale and temporale, four times in the zeir; and that the futeball and golf be utterly cryit doun, and nocht usit.. ..”
With all the golf being played then, it is inconceivable that the Scots were not trying to figure out the best way to stand up to the ball, to grip the club, and to swing it.
Yet it was five hundred years later, in the middle of the twentieth century, before the teaching committee of the Professional Golfers’ Association of America finally elicited enough agreement among its members to put in writing what it considered to be, and what it entitled: “The Five Basic Principles of the Swing.”
Even allowing for the many and radical changes in balls and clubs, which have called for somewhat different methods over the centuries, it is still amazing that the basic principles of the swing escaped detection. But since they did, it is not amazing that so many widely differing theories have taken root and grown – to the eternal frustration of the average player.
This brings us back to our original thought: Why don’t more people play better golf than they do?
The blunt truth is that they don’t because the golf swing is heavily overlaid with a sludge of fallacy, misunderstanding, faulty theory, myth, and just plain ignorance. So thick is this coating that it is a wonder anyone ever gets through it and down to the hard, clean mechanics of the sound swing.
It is this sludge, most of which has been covering the swing for so long that it now acts as an insulation, that we will cut away in this book.
Once the myths and fallacies are exploded and the true machinery of the swing is laid bare for all to see and understand, golf becomes a much less difficult game.