Friday, September 11, 2009

3Jack's Translation of TGM: Part 1B

The Preface of 'The Golfing Machine' on page XI is perhaps the most important part of the book because it gives an introduction to the book and teaches the reader the proper sequence to read the book. The main purpose of these posts is to translate much of, but not all of, Homer Kelley's work.

Much of the Preface in the book deals with what's known as the 'Geometry of the Circle' in the golf swing. Here's a diagram of that circle.

In the beginning of the Preface, Homer Kelley is talking about humans 'obey' the Geometry of the Circle when it comes to swinging the golf club. Certainly, guys like Knudson, Hogan, Moe, Snead, and Trevino all had different swings, but all of them obeyed the Geometry of the Circle. Kelley makes the statement that perhaps an octopus or an alien would have a geometrically different golf swing if they could swing a club, but humans swing alike in this sense.

Homer then discusses why Geometry is used to study the golf swing because geometry is the study of relationships. And that's why he feels that the golfer needs to learn feel from mechanics instead of learning mechanics from feel. He also refers to learning feel from mechanics as 'Alignment Golf.' In fact, one of Homer's first students was Lynn Blake who has his own DVD instruction series based on TGM and learning feel from mechanics call 'Alignment Golf.'

Homer states that Alignment Golf (feel from mechanics) is superior to 'Position Golf' (mechanics from feel) because it dispenses the reliance on 'mandatory positions.'

Popular golf instruction almost always teaches mechanics from feel or 'position golf.' Meaning that if I were to go a popular golf instruction magazine, chances are the instruction would consist of the teacher stating that I must be in a certain position at a certain part of the swing. Then, in order to get into this 'mandatory position' the teacher will tell about a 'swing feel' or a 'swing thought' the golfer can use to achieve this position.

For instance, in order to stop getting laid off at the top of the swing, David Leadbetter will show the golfer that the club should be parallel to the target at the top of the swing (while getting laid off can be problematic, it's not mandatory for good ballstriking, just take a look at Tiger Woods, Ian Poulter and others). To get rid of the 'laid off' position, Leadbetter will instruct the golfer to feel like they are sticking their thumbs into their right ear. So here we have Leadbetter showing the 'proper position' at the top of the swing and then telling the golfer the 'swing feel' to achieve that 'proper position.' Classic teaching of 'learning mechanics from feel.' The problem is that feels are often subjective and what feel may work for you may not work for myself.

This is one of the reasons why I thought it was important to understand who Homer Kelley was, because as a 'problem solver' Homer saw that he had more than just a problem figuring out the mechanics of the golf swing, but he also needed to figure out how to repeat the mechanics of the golf swing to hit the ball consistently well. Homer realized that FEEL = CONSISTENCY. He now had to figure out a way that a golfer could create and find the swing feel that works for them so they could consistently strike the ball well. And he figured it out by teaching golfers to learn feel from mechanics. Here's a two part video series I did further explaining 'Alignment Golf.'

Homer then states:

The number one alignment is the Flat Left Wrist (at impact). The Flat Left Wrist is a Golfing Imperative. Without it, more information means only more confusion.
Ever hear golfers complaining that they can't stop hitting ground balls and then they'll do something like standing closer to the ball and it will work for awhile and then stop and then they think they are just 'looking up.' They may be hitting those ground balls because they do not have a flat left wrist at impact, the #1 alignment in the golf swing. And because they don't have a flat left wrist at impact, just adding more information instead of addressing the left wrist only confuses the golfer even more.

He then states:

This textbook can support individual 'MY Way' procedures but no 'THE Way' theory.
Basically meaning that any successful golfer with a unique golf swing can be explained in the book. But it will not support a theory that states that there's only one way to swing the club or this component is the only component that a good golfer can use, etc. Again, TGM can explain why Moe Norman's swing was successful despite being different from Lee Trevino's swing and explain why Lee Buck was successful despite being different from Hogan's swing and so on and so forth.

Homer then talks about how the golf swing is based on Geometry (which we have briefly discussed) and Physics. He believes that there are two different 'types' of swings -- the 'hitter' and the 'swinger' and that both have the same geometry. Furthermore, they have the same geometry regardless of the pattern (the different components in an individual's golf swing aka a 'swing style') and the same geometry regardless of the golf club. But, the physics are different.

For the 'hitter', their physics is 'muscular thrust.' The thrusting of the right arm in the downswing is the physics of the hitter. For the swinger, their physics is centrifugal force, a 'dragging' of the clubhead into impact utilizing the pivot and the left side.

If the golfer feels they are more 'strong' than 'quick', they should try the 'hitter' swing. If they feel they are more 'quick' than 'strong', they should try the 'swinger' pattern. And as Homer states 'if both -- do either. Or both'

Back to the Geometry of the Circle, Homer states there's two aspects to that circle, the facts and the illusions. The illusions are what the golfer perceives, either visually or sensory. Ever hear the mantra in golf instruction 'the feel is not real?' That's what Homer is talking about with the 'illusions' of the Geometry of the Circle. He then states once a golfer understands the facts of the Geometry of the Circle, they can then eliminate being confused by the illusions and actually use those illusions to their advantage.

First use of this system might be to understand your present game before you abandon, replace or scramble it. It may not be all that bad. At least it's familiar. Besides habits can be harder to break than to reshuffle a little.
Such a key part of Preface in that it is telling the reader that this is NOT about making a swing overhaul, in fact Homer Kelley actually suggest against it because 'habits can be harder to break than to reshuffle a little.' It's about making some adjustments and some 'tweaks', not putting an entirely new engine and transmission in.

Near the end of the Preface in page XII, Homer explains why he made the book so complex and has one of the beautiful quotes in the entire book:

After all, complexity is far more acceptable and workable than mystery is.
After that, Homer finally shows the proper sequence to read the book. List #1 gives a basic introduction to each chapter. Most readers who start reading List #1 tend to struggle with comprehending Homer Kelly's work and give up too easy on the book. I will be doing these translation posts in the same sequence Homer Kelley prescribed and hopefully they will make the reader understand his work with ease and have no issue moving onto List #2. List #2 goes more into the specifics of each chapter.

While I didn't go into further detail of things like 'swinging' and 'hitting' I will go into that in future translation posts.

'This book is dedicated to Joe Duffer and Joe Pro for keeping golf alive and is intended to serve as the Duffer's Bible, the Golf Nut's Catalog, the Circuit Player's Handbook and the Instructor's Textbook' - Homer Kelley