ATTENTION, READERS in the 28 EUROPEAN VAT COUNTRIES: Because of the new VAT law, you probably can't order books direct from my site now. But that's okay -- just go to my Smashwords author page.
You can order PDFs (as well as all the other ebook formats) from there.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Historical Swoosh

Part of the Route 67 series

This article has been edited slightly because I realized my statement under the picture didn't make a lot of sense. Sorry.

One last post about the swoosh before we move on; this one is a quick look at how the swoosh shows up in modern teaching. After some debate, I've decided to focus on two player/teachers -- Ben Hogan and Bobby Jones -- because their references to the move are pretty typical. The page references are for Hogan's book Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf, and for Bobby Jones on Golf, a collection of writings by Jones himself.

But first I'd like to make a quick reference to another series of posts I did (listed on the Some Useful Posts Series page) about Jim McLean's "V-Gap" technique. In that series I pointed out that the V-gap is just a modern version of what used to be called a "late cock," where the club shaft is still basically parallel to the ground when the hands are at the waist-high position on the backswing. Hogan shows this same position on page 72 of his book. The Jones book includes a drawing of him in a similar "late cock" position on page 40.

McLean says that players using the V-gap hit the ball farther, and this is related to the swoosh move. By delaying the wrist cock, the clubhead develops more momentum at the change of direction, which makes it easier to delay that uncocking move until you're ready to swoosh.

That swooshing move is illustrated on pages 82-83, with the caption, "The training exercise is a half-swing back and forth. Back and forth, back and forth, the body swings the arms like the pendulum of a clock. The elbows remain tightly glued to the side." Hogan's exercise is a bit more mechanicial than mine, what with the elbows held tight against the side, but it has the advantage of forcing you to move your wrists properly for the swoosh. This isn't from the book, but it's a short sequence of Hogan doing the swoosh:

Hogan in swoosh position

Notice that his wrists are still cocked when his arms drop below the 9:00 position, and his wrists straighten as he approaches the ball position.

On page 93 Hogan makes a big deal about NOT starting the downswing with the hands. (Remember, I had you gradually lengthen the swoosh in order to try and avoid this.) After restating this in capital letters about how you shouldn't use any conscious hand action during the swing, he says:
What do the hands do? The answer is that they do nothing active until after the arms have moved on the downswing to a position just above the level of the hips.
A little later (on page 96) he writes:
AFTER YOU HAVE INITIATED THE DOWNSWING WITH THE HIPS, YOU WANT TO THINK OF ONLY ONE THING: HITTING THE BALL. On a full drive, I try to hit the ball hard, sometimes as hard as I can. (The caps are Hogan's.)
My favorite Hogan quote is on page 101, where he talks about his left wrist still being a bit arched and he says, "As far as applying power goes, I wish I had three right hands!" Your right hand (left hand for lefties) can apply as much power as you want, as long as your hands have reached the lower part of your swing (as he said a couple of quotes earlier).

Bobby Jones uses some interesting phrases to describe his own performance of the swoosh. After talking about hip turn and such, he says,
"But equally important is the effect of completing the cocking of the wrists.This is accomplished as the wrists give to the pull of the hips in one direction and of the club head moving in the other. As the downstroke begins, one should have the feeling of leaving the club head at the top" (page 46).
That "feeling of leaving the club head at the top" is a great way to describe what I have called "delaying the release" in my earlier posts. Later on the same page Jones talks about the importance of "An ample cocking of the wrists, and the retention of the greater part of this angle for use in the hitting area," which is the goal of swoosh. (I should point out that drawings of Jones will show his wrists with less wrist cock as he enters the swoosh area. This is because hickory shafts flex more than modern steel ones, so they can't handle as much power. We'll talk about this some in a later post, but for now you should be aware that softer graphite shafts require less wrist cock to develop power... but you also have to swing more slowly to keep your accuracy. Walter Hagen's notoriously wild drives were caused by a fairly modern swing that overpowered his hickory shafts.)

Regardless of how "hard" you try to swoosh, the principles of delaying the uncocking of the wrists until you're in the last part of the swing, close to the ball, is a longstanding teaching. It doesn't matter whether you look at older teachings from the time of hickory shafts or the most modern teachers; and it doesn't matter what swing method you use to hit the ball. Power comes from a swoosh at the bottom of the swing, and it's not so hard to learn. Take your favorite teaching book and look for some of the descriptions I've pointed out in both Jones and Hogan's books; I bet you'll find something very similar.

No comments:

Post a Comment