I’ll be slowly archiving my favorite golf books with very detailed reviews in the “Instruction Book” thread, here is a look at how I feel George’s ideals in his wonderful book “The Natural Golf Swing” relates to our course and module work here. First two chapters:
Chapter 1 (About this Book)
George talks about practicing hitting balls and hitting to the flagpole near the clubhouse in the distance. This is very symbolic of what George was trying to put forth, that the focus of the golf swing must be something other than the golf ball. I think in our class here… we use the impact bag as a mental distraction from becoming ball bound. George’s flagpole was 500 yards away but kept his mind in the target and not the ball. He repeats many times that golf is a target game, and not a ball game. The focus must not be on the ball. The ball is only incidental, or in the way. I think as we move through our modules, the same kind of experience George talks about here will be ingrained into us through bag work as we take focus off the ball and put it on our motion. George talked about the swing being a motion toward the target.
“I exchanged the idea of hitting the ball for swinging through it toward the target.”
“The flagpole helped me think of the swing as a pure, uninterrupted, and uninhibited move in which I would have no sensation of a hit. It was as if I were studying KARATE and I wanted to move THROUGH the target. Why should I let the ball stop the motion? The ball simply gets in the way of the motion. We swing as a unit, our hands, arms and club through the ball toward our target while focusing on the target. The ball will sit in the path of the clubhead if the ball is in the right location”
This is certainly a nod toward our high idealism of accelerating through impact with the ball feeling incidental. Also George is clearly acknowledging the importance of striking the ball off what we at Advanced Ball Striking call true lowpoint.
We ignore the ball. As I say, it simply gets in the way of the motion we make. The motion connects the starting position to the finishing position
This is one of the reasons our module work always has a starting and finishing position.
“You cannot change effectively unless you have a clear image of what you are trying to do”
And this is why we have our module videos.
We do nothing in the natural swing that is at the expense of balance.
Chapter 2 Learning Process
George talks about how he first saw Hogan at Cypress Point, and how Cypress was George’s favorite course. He said if he had one round left in life it would be at Cypress Point at 7:15 am with the fog coming in off the Monterey Bay. He describes how playing the first hole in the fog is magical with knowing that the Cypress Tree 240 yards down the right side can’t be seen but you know its’ there, then as you get near the green, the green appears through the fog in the morning sunlight through the fog. He describes this as heavenly. It’s with these words that he leads into his first sighting of Ben Hogan at Cypress.
It’s no mystery that George was a huge Hogan fan.His swing was in many ways a carbon copy of Hogan. My friend Al Barkow who knew them both well and walked the fairways with both Hogan and Knudson said George had the most Hogan like swing of any player ever.
George says a very insightful thing about swing intentions.
"I noticed every player who struck the ball well maintained the same firmness in the left wrist at the completion of the swing as was established in the Starting Position. The wrists don’t break down, as Tommy Bolt called flippy-wristed kids stuff.
We focus on this in module #3 with our PV5 conviction.
George then acknowledges that “I had no idea that to maintain firm wrists was to properly use my legs. I ignored footwork also because I was stuck on golf’s number one misconception … keep the head still. I later learned that the head has to go where the body carries it. The head has nothing to do with the golf swing, the head has no purpose in the swing”
We cover this in module #2 as we learn about vertical and horizontal ground forces, and how to maximize their use to our benefit. Proper intentions at PV5 will insure us of George’s objectives here.
“It didn’t take me long to realize that it was far better to let my legs lead the downswing. The only way to maintain the formation of the hands is the start the downswing with the legs. To keep the hands passive you must get the legs moving”
This is really the key to us using our module #5 work to properly deliver the golf club from transition into out P3 4:30 line.
“When we walk, we transfer weight from foot to foot. In the golf swing, same thing, we move away from the ball as weight transfers to our right side, then we move through the ball to our target transfering to out left side.”
“If we swing with our hands and arms alone, we swing with less than a full deck”.
George clearly understood the importance of the golf swing being inner pivot driven here. We focus on this concept in our connection module.
“Footwork is so important, if we move our legs, the rest of our body moves. Harvey Penick told me, Son, if you are going to play this game for a living, you’d better learn how to use your legs.”
This is why we waste little time getting to business in our module #2 work.
“Hogan was dead solid flat on his left foot at finish. How he achieved this was quite elementary, he took a very wide stance”
We find through our module work that a wider stance is often necessary because of the advanced forces and pressures we are applying and how they need to be supported properly by a wider foundation. Moe Norman used to tell me that his legs were like “The Great Pyramids of Egypt” I can hear him saying “They are still standing, still standing”
George talks about how achieving Hogan’s flat left foot at finish took him 18 months to master. I think this is a great lesson for all of us in the art of patience as we work though our core modules.
In module #5, we learn about how to use the legs to properly initiate the downswing.
George gives us an insight into how he would control his distances.
“I learned that distance comes from the pace at which we transfer weight from the back foot to the front foot. The faster I do this the more clubhead speed I will generate.”
I think we use the term rotational speed here, but the effect is the same, as the torso rotates our ground pressures move so the faster we rotate the more pressures we feel in the feet, and the opposing force if of course the golf club.
“I alter the plane to change curvature or ball flight by moving the feet. I realized an important factor concerning Hogan’s placement of his left foot. He used the left foot to establish a stopping point in the swing. It set up a resistance in the left knee and hip that would stop him directly on target. This was a superb way of ensuring direction.”
There is a lot being said here in these couple of sentences. As we work through our core modules, we are always keeping a keen eye on our ground forces and footwork. Keeping our feet on the ground keeps our ground forces pressuring and creates the resistance in the legs I think George is talking about here. We get into moving our ball position altering our plane line once we have established a proper swing path through our module work. Our low point module clears up a lot of things about ball position and plane line altering. When you watch George play, you can see how he would shape shots with his body positioning just as he is talking about.
Chapter’s 3 and 4 coming soon…