The New Four Magic Moves To Winning Golf (P4)
Sweeping Out the Rubbish
The fallacies of golf are many and of various kinds. Some deal with the mental approach, some with a specific action, others with the mechanical principles which underlie the swing.
We will not attempt here to make a complete list. We will cover the two dozen or more that are most prevalent and have caused and still cause the most damage, and particularly those which must be exploded thoroughly if you are to assimilate the new thoughts, principles, and actions we will give you in this book.
Watch carefully. The fuse is lit!
Rubbish. This fallacy is so old it should have been dead long ago. But it is a hardy perennial, and it has come down to us through generations of golf teachers right to the present day.
On the very face of it the advice is foolish. When you swing a golf club you are taking a comparatively violent action. Is there any other violent action you take while you are relaxed? Stop and think. Of course there isn’t. It’s impossible. Do Ben Hogan or Cary Middlecoff or Arnold Palmer look relaxed when they take their stance or hit those prodigious drives? If they are, why are their lips compressed and their features contorted, as countless pictures show they are?
It is easy to see how “Relax” became fixed in the language of the golf teacher. He gives lessons to a great number of middle aged men and women who never in their lives have done anything of an athletic nature. When these people get on the lesson tee they are so self-conscious and frightened that they tense up to the point, almost, of absolute rigidity. In order for them to swing the club at all, the pro has to loosen them up to some extent. He tells them to relax. Then, since that advice has a beneficial effect, he promptly adopts an unsound line of thought. If a little is good, he thinks, a lot must be much better. He now makes a fetish of relaxation. Everybody has to relax as soon as he takes hold of a club.
We do not want a rigidity of the rigor mortis variety. But we do want a firmness, a feeling of muscular movement under constant control, ready for instant response.
Nor do we want a mental relaxation either. Don’t get the idea your mind should be a complete blank when you step up to a shot. If it is, you might as well be asleep. The mind should be alert, thinking about what should be done and what should not be done, which side the trouble lies on, which way the wind is blowing, whether the tactical situation of the match or round calls for safety or boldness, and what adjustments, if any, should be made in the swing.
So forget everything you have heard about relaxing. For the purposes of playing good golf it is sheer rubbish.
“Use a light grip”
This is a first cousin of “Relax.” They go together, naturally. If you are completely relaxed as you address the ball, you are sure to have a light grip. One of our modern masters, Sam Snead, wants us to grip the club with no more pressure than we would use in handling a knife and fork. The immortal Bob Jones had a grip so light, in his heyday, that his left hand opened at the top of the swing, and he wanted it to open.
In the face of such advocates, we would certainly be the last to say that you can’t play good golf with a light grip, but we do say, emphatically, that better and more consistent golf will be played by the average golfer when he adopts a tight grip. And by tight we mean tight all the way through, from address to the end of the follow-through.
It is noticeable that the top pros of the modern era are all firm-to-tight grippers, and that their hands (Snead’s included) never loosen, even a little bit, at the top of the swing.
We do not mean that the grip should be so tight that it stiffens and cramps the muscles of the wrists and forearms. But, with practice, a surprisingly tight grip can be taken with the fingers and hands without stiffening the forearms. That is the grip we want. And it must be kept that way all through the swing.