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Sunday, March 17, 2019

Bobby Jones on Using Your Legs

Some people believe that the "old" golfers who used hickory shafts played golf very differently from the way we play now. While it's true that there have been some changes -- primarily due to the stiffness of modern shafts -- most of the fundamentals haven't changed.

Today I thought you might enjoy seeing just how ancient some of the "modern" techniques of golf are.

Most modern viewers hear analysts and instructors talk about the rather dramatic upward leg action that many pros now use -- okay, let's call it a jump because that's what it has become -- and believe that this is a recent innovation. But this short newspaper piece Bobby Jones wrote back in the early 1930s puts the lie to that. It's from the book Bobby Jones on Golf and is simply called Using Your Legs. Make sure you notice the part that I've put in italics.
One often sees a player who habitually allows the right leg to cave in as his club approaches the ball. This gives his swing a sort of loose-jointed, haphazard appearance and, of course, reduces to zero his chance of controlling his stroke or delivering a well-directed blow. But the fault is equally apparent in the left leg, for there he has made the mistake of accentuating the bend of the knee and failing to straighten the leg as he nears the ball. Once he learns to handle his left side correctly, he will not likely have trouble with his right.

The two most important things to watch in the leg movement are, first, that in starting down the bend of the knees should not be sufficient to cause any appreciable lowering of the head and shoulders; and, second, that as the club nears the ball, the legs should be ready to produce the upward thrust that means so much to power. To all who have studied motion pictures of the golf stroke, the semisquatting posture at which the player arrives when his hands are about waist high on the downstroke is familiar. From that point on, there takes place a straightening of the left leg that culminates suddenly in a powerful upward thrust immediately prior to contact. Inevitably, this movement tends to straighten the right leg as well.

The correct use of the legs is as important as anything in golf, for the expert player makes much of his connection with the ground. A golfer is no exception to the rule in athletics, placing such a high value upon substantial underpinning. [p64-65]
Granted, Jones never jumped off the ground when he swung the club; that much effort would have been too much for those more flexible hickory shafts. But even then, the move was still powerful enough for him to describe it as "a suddenly powerful upward thrust."

And notice that he even talks about using the ground. You thought that was a new term, didn't you?

Many of the classic players set records that stand to this day. It's because they understood a lot more about the golf swing than we give them credit for. Never underestimate the legends of the game!

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