I ran across an excerpt from Bobby Jones book, Bobby Jones on Golf, on a blog post by a friend, John Haynes, that I think is worth passing on. Jones makes some interesting observations about the practice swing and a problem that so many golfers have.
“One day my father and I were playing together, he was driving last from the back of a very long tee. With a swing that could only be described as labored, he bashed the head of the driver into the turf so that the ball popped almost straight up, and dropped just in front of the teeing ground. As we started forward, he called to me, ‘Come back here a minute.’ Then, with as graceful a swing as I could imagine, he clipped a dandelion from the grass. Glaring at me, he said in a strangely challenging tone, ‘Now what’s wrong with that swing?’ ‘Nothing,’ I said, ‘why don’t you use it sometime?’
I have no quarrel with anyone for taking pains with a shot nor for making certain he is ready to play before he starts the swing. But most golfers lose sight of the fact that in the first position it is ease and comfort that are to be sought, and that a strained or unnatural posture was never recommended by anyone… It is very rare that tension is observed in a practice swing, and this is so because the player, not feeling the necessity of being entirely correct, comes closer to assuming a natural posture. Let him take this naturalness into the actual shot; let him simplify his preliminary motions as much as possible; and let him start the ball on its way without hurry, yet without setting himself on point before it like a fine bird dog on a covey of quail. In this way, he can go a long way, on the physical side, toward overcoming the understandable mental disturbances that must arise when he is confronted with the responsibility of hitting the ball. Mental tension–that is, keenness–never does any harm when it is accompanied by physical relaxation.”
I wish I had a dollar for every student that has come to me with a great practice swing and then uses something completely different when they hit their golf shot. It seems as though for some strange reason they don’t trust their practice swing to actually work. Maybe we all need to think about this the next time we play. After all, Bobby Jones knew a thing or two about playing golf.