1920's Golf Instruction Joe Norwood

Justin was so kind to track down this photo and the philosophy of Joe Norwood, who in the 1920’s and 30’s was considered one of American golf’s premier swing instructors. He was the head professional at very exclusive and still fantastic Los Angeles C.C.

To module students, this might look hauntingly familiar… :wink:

Here are some of Norwood’s concepts I found relevant to what we are striving for.

[i]The feet and legs give power to the golf swing, by stabilizing
the body movement into a still position

Norwood also places the right leg from the knee to the foot in a
straight line, perpendicular to the ground and holding 70 percent of the body

The right leg maintains this position for the backswing.

the arms are not out
in front of the body, but fairly close to the body.

Norwood demands a threequarter
backswing, as the three-quarter swing will give the same distance as
the long over-swing power stroke. Don Trahan did a study and verified the
accuracy of this statement.

Joe wants the right elbow close to the body throughout the swing as Ben
Hogan did. The right elbow is the key to power and accuracy. For the
backswing the right arm is swung back to a horizontal and not a vertical
position. The right elbow is at a 45-degree angle.

The first move on the downswing is the Vardon move of dropping the hands
down towards the right heel before any other movement. This is a short move,
but it is important in preventing hitting over-the-top and cutting into the ball.
Make this dropping move and the swing takes care of itself. In the downswing
the golfer swings down and under his hips.

Joe wants the golfer to hold the left arm
and hit it with the right arm. Tommy Armour, of playing and teaching fame,
stressed the same procedure.

Norwood wanted the body to stay behind the ball at impact by staying on a flat
right foot at impact. This helps to keep the body still at impact. This procedure
leads to the famous Òsit-downÓ position, where the knees seem to separate
wider at impact as the body lowers into impact. Sam Snead and Ben Hogan
were highly noticeable with this sit-down or Òsquat.Ó This sit-down position also
helps the body in being still for impact. Joe stresses this position, as he claims
the body at impact is lower than at address. This position lowers the hips into
the thighs to aid in balance.

From the hands dropping into the slot, the right hip drives down into the right
leg, which does not move. During the backswing, the left shoulder goes down
to put solid feeling into the right hip. The right hip is now ready for its move,
and the feeling of the move is as follows: take the stance. Place the right hand
on the right hip or hip pocket. Now push down and forward with the butt of the
right hand, and you should feel the hips go down into the squat position like
Hogan and Snead for impact. The right leg does not move forward and stays
in position with the right heel flat on the ground.

There is a controversy on whether the golf swing is mechanics or feel.
Norwood sums this up easily: you have to learn the mechanics and then you
get the feel. Relying on feel can be elusive, especially when one loses the feel
for the swing during a round of golf. Feel must be acquired by learning the
knowledge of the mechanics of the swing. This is like a piano player who must
learn the scales and other procedures to acquire a feel for playing. Regaining
the feel process can be difficult, as one will often start thinking too much and
pressing the action. Norwood recommended to always go back to
fundamentals and knowledge in order to regain feel.


Thanks for distilling all that great info for us all Lag.
I have that book, but I didnt have the patience to go through it as I found the writing style to be extremely tedious.

…and golfer’s are still trying to learn the same impact physics almost 90 years later as if they were never singled out. :cry:

I was watching the Carl Sagan “Cosmos” series reruns that aired in the late 70’s. Carl who was a highly respected astro physicist does a nice job of explaining very complex things in a very tangible way.

One of the points that I found particularly interesting is that it has been proven to the best of scientific research, that the basic physical laws that govern the universe appear to be consistent throughout the cosmos. Examinations of even the most distant galaxies that formed billions of years ago appear to have followed the basic blueprint of physics that are imposed upon us today.

That would lead me to believe that the same laws of physics that govern the golf swing have not changed in the last 50 or 100 years on our little blue planet. :open_mouth:

IOZ…the section of the book which deals with shadows is, as I mentioned within the Goat Hump thread :laughing:, related to arc widths. One would almost need the book to fully appreciate what he was getting at- just copying his words would not give the full meaning to his theory because he sets the stage for that information elsewhere in the book at various times.

I didn’t find the book tedious to read. I thought it was an easy read and filled with lots of good stuff…some directly applicable to ABS standards. However, the book is a little like TGM, with it’s going back and forth, but not nearly as pronouced as Homer’s work in general; and with all those numbers and letters.

Here’s a sample of his work which sounds a lot like the discussion going on in Right Shoulder in ABS forum started by 12-piece which asked how the right shoulder first moves from the top.
"When the left arm pulls first, the right arm can’t catch up to it without using the hand to do so, and this spells big trouble. When the flipping right hand enters into to act, fearful happenings take place.

The left side is a holding side, and the right, which is the power side, goes to it in a strong, thrusting move. Should the left side go first, the right side will merely follow, and the thrusting power will have vanished. Do not initiate the downswing by pulling with the left shoulder instead of going down with the right shoulder. It is most imperative that at this point in the swing the left must hold while the right arm smacks against it."[/b]

And “down” with the right shoulder is Lag’s preference I think.

If you want some more of this stuff let me know. He has a cool description of the swing going “backwards” from the top so we can get the club behind us. :slight_smile: RR

Thanks RR,

I think I’m gonna go and find myself a copy of this book.

Interesting stuff for sure!

Thanks for bumping up this thread. I did not realize Lag had started it a long time ago.

I read this book ( Golf-O-Metrics) this past year, because Norwood’s name kept cropping up and I didn’t know much about him. The book wasn’t too easy to get through for me, as there were a lot of terms…“up, back, forward, down, under, over” where it was not clear to me which direction he was talking about…so it required some thought, and even then, I was not sure I had it right.

I agree RR, one of his main concepts is the “down” from the top, not “around” or over …he says even just a fraction of an inch the wrong way cannot be retrieved. His explanation of casting, by differentiation of straightening the right elbow vs the wrists( true cast) was a lightbulb for me.

He spends time pointing how short the travel of the right elbow is, or needs to be…very congruent with ABS concepts.

There was a putting chapter, where he advised the “hit down on it” ( downbeat)to promote a roll that would resist bumping off line.

More thoughts from anyone on this book would be appreciated. And maybe we should transfer to the "Instructional Books " thread ??

GOM is very anti-rotation and anti most modern swing theories. It has one “setting” the hips to 4:30 (with 3:00 being square at address) FIRST before even starting swing and should be held that way until late into downswing. He advocated also setting wrists as first move of backswing (after setting hips) and is a very “armsy” swing theory with ideal impact of SQUARE hips and shoulders. There are some wonderful tidbits in GOM that could apply to any type swing as RR has posted one example, but Norwood made clear it was all or nothing with his GOM swing and metrics (from what I can remember).

Also, the article that Lag posted from is PRE Golf-O-Metrics when Norwood was a bit more conventional. GOM was his masterpiece of all his years of knowledge/experience that came some 25 years after that article.

I really regret selling my copy of GOM though as it is more a reminder to me of the more simpler times when a whole swing was broken down into a book and not a 8 DVD set then 100hrs of live instruction with Trackman.

His grandson is currently trying to remarket this book and swing: youtube.com/watch?v=AdR6Ev1gXDU

I think I got the book and the video . . . . not sure if you can post that stuff up but I reckon I could summarize? I can try to dig it out of my closet if y’all want me too . . . . can you get busted for putting video up?

Probably not a good idea since considering it is still for sale through his grandson. But feel free to put up some good tidbits you can dig out of GOM as I don’t think that would be harmful.

A quote from Joe Norwoods “Golf-O-Metrics”

“Pros are quoted as saying that Ben Hogan, in his playing days, did something they don’t do. Hogan probably had the greatest left arm in golf. Joe believes that Hogan could extend five to seven inches. Hogan’s accuracy is legendary, and of course proves that he could hold such a tremendous extension. This is what set Hogan apart from the field and what has the pros guessing as to what Ben Hogan did that they don’t do. Hogan must have put two or three years into developing that much extension and holding power. Without an effort to put a few weeks into developing a left arm, there is no way to encourage the average golfer. The great arc from that much extension created tremendous centrifugal force for Hogan and is what permitted him to be so long and so straight.”

I believe Mr. Norwood also mentioned on his video that Mr. Hogan spent two years on his left arm!!! In his book, he talks about maintaining a concave left wrist (i.e. the thumb pulling toward the elbow). This develops the ability to hit with flat lie angles. If the thumb is pulling toward the elbow, how much clubface rotation is possible?

The book is a good read and his golf-o-metrics exercise #3 leads to the hands disappearing left after impact.


Merry Christmas,