Search for the Perfect Swing

The ground breaking book by Alastair Cochran and John Stobbs (1968).

Most consider this work the pre cursor to The Golfing Machine. It was the first book that attempted to explain the golf swing “scientifically” in great detail…for better or for worse. It’s an interesting read, certainly much easier to follow and written in more a narrative style that some would consider unscientific.

Here are a few claims, concepts or points of interest that struck me as interesting while reading it.

Chapters 1 and 2

A good golf swing can generate 4 horse power.
Impact lasts 1/2 a millisecond.
It takes 2/3rds of a second for the shock of impact to reach the players hands.
From 0 to 100 mph in one fifth of a second, 100 times faster than the fastest sports car can accelerate.
A golf club traveling 100 mph at 14 ounces will send the ball off the club at 149 mph.
Increasing the head weight does send the ball off faster if impact velocity stays the same

Reducing weight does not add to the velocity of the club proportionally. A 10% decrease in weight adds 2% to velocity because
the golfer still has to swing the arms, hands, and other parts of the body.

You don’t have to swing a heavier club as fast to fly the ball the same distance.
A golf ball will lose 15 yards in flight on a 200 yard shot between 70 F and freezing point.
Pulls and pushes are simply straight shots in the wrong direction.

The hands can work as a free hinge as in the threshing flail, or power can be applied at the hinge.

The bent left elbow can add a second hinge but must be timed.


Chapter 3 discusses a lot of swing plane speculation which even today is nonsense because the vast majority of the time the golf swing is acting in 3 dimensions not a “plane” which suggests 2D. On plane right through impact is a good objective but the backswing downswing stuff just gets beaten to death. The plane shifting concepts seem to throw a wrench into the mind of the scientific observer and this stuff still goes on today.

Nice sequences of Chi Chi and Sanders though.

“The golf swing is not a fixed spoke thing like a huge cartwheel. The moving parts of the golf swing are thrown out of line very easily.”

Bobby Reid of St Andrews play golf with only the left arm, drives the ball 250 and plays to a 4 handicap.

The right arm gives action and structure to the left.
The right hand gives positive assistance to the left.

“it is virtually impossible to play good golf with no rotation of the left forearm.”

This looks all the hauntingly familiar.
Didn’t work then and still doesn’t to this day.

"The rotation of the hips is neither a simple rotation nor a simple lateral motion… it is both. A powerful combination and a key to long driving when done correctly.

The counterbalancing action of the body enables a good golfer to balance and stabilize his swing"

The average stance with of a touring pro in 1968 was 24 1/2 inches with a driver.

The swing works best from swinging the club from the hub.


“Most golfers are not convinced that strength is needed if golf. However, this investigation has shown that for the brief duration of the swing, the muscles have to work very hard. If anyone doubts this, let them hit 20 ball in a row in rapid succession with a long iron. A golfer should give special attention to strengthening the hands, but the hands and arms can never be the main source of power.”


Here is an interesting diagram, but they leave out two other important considerations… that being the titling forward or back (more erect)
and also the reality of lateral movement. Very typical of why I tend to be very suspicious of scientific type books trying to describe the golf swing. The work would just have to be unbelievably exhaustive.

Mastering the rotation of the torso is critical in the golf swing.

Schofield’s putting machine.
This is interesting, and really almost shocking to see such a contraption being put to test on greens that look like tee boxes.
This is absolutely an accurate portrayal of how golf was played during the 1960’s and before. Yet still, a lot of great golf scores where shot
and records that are still being chased after even today. I think there is a different skill set to be learned to adapt to very slow and cumbersome putting green surfaces.


The big controversy on the center shafted perfectly upright pendulum putting method. Once upon a time, the USGA once cared about
the game and would ban things that clearly were not golf strokes.


This is the same twisted logic as the frying pan drivers. Makes the game more accessible and easier for the average golfer.
Would this not do the same thing?

Can you elaborate? Thanks.

Just the Stack and Tilt thing. Didn’t work then… and even with modern gear and the attempt by the club manufactures to make a club that one can hit a long shot with using a short iron swing is still not producing great ball striking. Just look at the stats of the guys trying to do that. Not good.