Wednesday, February 25, 2009

AJ Bonar and 3Jack

Got an e-mail (and you can e-mail me too at about AJ Bonar's teachings and basically asking 'isn't that the same damn thing you are learning right now?' And 'is he (Bonar) right?' And 'why do so many of these teachers seem to hate him (Bonar)?'

You can get the jist of what Bonar instructs from an old Golf Magazine article (,28136,1565175,00.html). In it, Bonar claims that ALL of the teachers have taught the wrong thing and that his turning over of the wrists at impact (or as he says, imagine the clubshaft is a screw driver and you are screwing the shaft into the ground counterclockwise --- for a righty-- right before impact).

Here's a sequence of what it looks like according to Bonar:

Personally, I don't feel like I'm learning quite exactly the thing Bonar is teaching. Bonar teaches a right handed turnover (if you're a righty). I don't care for that move because then you start getting into a too dominant of your right hand and it's flip-city. I more or less think of rotating the left hand.

Secondly, I don't try to actively bow out the left wrist at impact. Lastly, Bonar wants golfers to cup their wrist at the top of the swing to open up the clubface. I have a flat left wrist at the top of the swing.

So no, I'm not exactly doing what Bonar teaches.

But this type of swing has been around for quite some time. It's the good ole 'swivel release' that a teacher like Ben Doyle (and many others) like to incorporate into their instruction and was written by Homer Kelley in 'The Golfing Machine' all the way back in 1968.

Here's Ben Doyle incorporating the swivel release in his very own swing:

Lately, I've grown really tired of many golf forums because the threads about golf swings and golf theories usually turn into long, worn out flame wars.

Unfortunately, I think Bonar exemplifies part of the problem.

I think a lot of the problems with discussing the golf swing is that most golfers usually come from poor instruction early on in their lives. Then the golf magazines just compound the problem. Eventually the golfer gets some better instruction, but the teacher is teaching one particular pattern. Usually, it doesn't work for that golfer. Eventually the golfer gets some different instruction and finds a way to swing the club that works for them.

After that, the golfer thinks that because a certain method worked for will automatically work for everybody. And to make matters worse, they believe that there are a lot of absolute imperatives to the golf swing that all golfers MUST do in order to hit the ball effectively.

Thus, you get a lot of golfers with a lot of different methods about how to hit the ball effectively and the flame wars begin.

And yes, I've been guilty of this crap as well.

The truth is that there are very, very few absolute imperatives to the golf swing. Flat lead wrist at impact and effective pivot are probably the biggest two 'must have' parts of the golf swing. But other than that, there's tons and tons of ways to grip and swing the club and still be a darn good ballstriker.

Bonar falls into the trap. He believes that this is THE secret to golf and that everybody else has neglected to tell golfers that. And what's really bad is that he doesn't really instruct the method very well nor does he seem to know much about it.

Thus, the hatred and criticism begins and there's little in the way of good, meaningful discussion of the golf swing.



Anonymous said...

I believe that AJ does explain to the beginning golfer something that no one else does and that is why and how the club is designed as it is and how to use it the way it was designed thus making it possible to hit the "little homerun."

As a golf teacher of over 20 years I think AJ does as much to simplify what is happening and why. The jist is simply to let the arms from the elbow down do their job at the right time. This is why the pros look effortless as opposed to the lurching and lunging amateurs.

peter said...

I play to a 5.2 index and have received considerable instruction plus read ALL the pertinent books, watched videos etc.
Over the winter I continued on my quest for the perfect swing but of course have only experienced more of the same.Recently I happened to tune into Dude in the basement who was taught by AJ. From there I looked at some of AJ material and the most profound was the addage.."there is no swing, only how the clubface is supposed to hit the ball"...AMAZING revelation for me....AJ's simple teaching to have the clubface a little ope at imact while the face is turning closed is all I need...i never have to think about my swing...irrevelant!!!I think this is my answer.