Saturday, September 12, 2009

3Jack's Translation of TGM: Part 2A

Part 2A will consist of translating the first part of List #1 prescribed by Homer Kelley. This is sections 12-0 and 14-0.

12-0 (Stroke Patterns)

A 'stroke pattern' is another way of describing an individual's golf swing. For instance, Jack Nicklaus had a swing whose components included an interlocking grip that was a bit weak. He utilized pitch elbow and was a triple barrel 'swinger' who has a single shift plane angle variation. All of these will be described in future posts. But these components and other components of Nicklaus' swing formed his 'stroke pattern.'

Somebody like Brian Gay utilizes an overlapping strong single action grip. He is a 3-barrel 'hitter' with a double shift plane angle variation who utilizes a circular hand delivery path. These components and the other components of Gay's swing make up his very own individual 'stroke pattern.'

It's not to say that Gay's stroke pattern is necessarily better or worse than Nicklaus', it's to say that Gay's stroke pattern probably is the best for him (and the same with Nicklaus). If Gay were to try and emulate the components of Nicklaus' swing, he would probably struggle. The same would be said if Nicklaus had tried to emulate a swing like Gay's back in his prime.

Like I quoted in my translation of Chapter 1 'There is no effort to classify any Stroke Pattern as best or worst, except on the basis of Mechanical Advantage.' So really Nicklaus' swing was not so much 'better' than Gay's swing is now, but it did have some obvious mechanical advantages which allowed Nicklaus to hit the ball so powerfully. However, there are some mechanical advantages to Gay's swing which allow him to hit the ball so accurately.

The reader who can understand the concept of a 'stroke pattern' can use this to their advantage by eventually understanding all of the components of their stroke pattern. Then they will need to make sure that they are not mixing up 'hitter' based components with 'swinger' based components and when that is done they can then learn to master each of those components to form an effective and repeatable golf swing. It's much like an antique car collector finding a neglected car from the 50's and the first step is usually getting all of the parts to that car and then making sure that each individual part operates as best as it possibly can.

Homer states that chips and putts basically have the same alignments and paths as a full swing and that chips and putts are 'merely miniaturized -- not altered.' Furthermore he states that when it comes to shorter strokes, like the chip and the putt, the following facets of the stroke are shortened in comparison to the full swing:

1. Power Accumulators
2. Lag Pressure
3. Release Interval
4. Pivot
5. Arm Motion
6. Release Motions

Essentially, there's a range in each of the facets of the stroke listed above. A full swing uses these with maximum range. A 3/4 swing uses these at 3/4 range. A 1/4 swing uses these at 1/4 range. And so on and so forth.

The rest of it is pretty self-explanatory, but Homer does talk about how beginners should start out with what he coined 'basic motion.' This is a stroke much like a chip shot where the clubhead goes about 2 feet back and then 2 feet thru. Learn how to master the execution of basic motion, then you can start building a better stroke. Here's a video by Lynn Blake in regards to 'Basic Motion'

14-0 (The Computer)

As I posted earlier about why Homer Kelley titled the book 'The Golfing Machine', Homer viewed the golf swing like a machine that had 24 parts, 3-15 variations of each part and only 3 'imperatives' that each efficient machine must have.

It's very much like you and I would view an automobile, which is really a machine in its own right and has its own parts, variations of those parts and a few things it must have in order to be an efficient machine.

In the automobile, they utilize a computer in order to operate the machine and maintain its functionality. If your car is low on gas, the computer will monitor this and send a message to your dashboard and the 'low gas' light will go off telling the operate that they need fuel and usually the operator will then go to the gas station and fill up.

The Golfing Machine also has a computer according to Homer Kelley. In this case, the computer is the golfer's brain.

This part may sound a bit hokey or 'okay, the brain is our 'computer', but how does that translate to better golf', but it actually translates to better golf and in a quick fashion if the golfer uses their computer well. The better the golfer uses his computer, the better off they will be.

One of the things I wish I had been forced to do when I was younger was to play 'blade' forged irons. I am not a fan of offset clubs and in particular I'm not a fan of cast clubs that are very forgiving because I believe they do not allow the golfer to use their computer to their fullest capability which will allow them to have a much more precise stroke pattern and wind up with much better results.
With cast cavity back irons, it's very difficult to differentiate the feel between hitting a ball pretty well with a pretty good swing versus hitting a ball pretty well with a mediocre swing. Granted, I can differentiate with cast, cavity back irons a great swing and a poor swing...but, I don't have a lot of great swings and a lot of bad swings in a round. Most of my swings range in the mediocre to average to pretty good range. As Hogan said, he figured he hit about 3 shots a round just the way he wanted to. The difference between Hogan and somebody like myself is that 99% of his other shots were from really good, but not the greatest swings whereas probably 80% of my swings probably range in the average to very good but not great range.

Anyway...because it's very hard to differentiate the mediocre swing from the pretty decent swings, the computer can't make those subconscious and even conscious adjustments for me. However, with the blades there's a distinct difference that can be FELT when I take a pretty decent swing from a mediocre swing. That allows my computer to make the adjustments and the components of my swing improve. Garbage in will cause garbage out. Blades provide much better input, thus I produce much better output. The key IMO with irons is to find a set of irons that will provide quality input, but do not have harsh penalties when I do not catch one perfect.

Homer Kelley talks about a 'programming routine' that the golfer can use with their computer when it comes to their golf stroke.

Primary Programming Routine - The Computer must maintain the feel of your 'basic procedure.' So, operate 'basic motion' properly and then maintain the feel of that basic motion.

Second Programming Routine - Ball position to control the direction of the ball given the conditions (wind, side hills, hooks, slices, etc)

Third Programming Routine - Distance Control Data for Club Selection (lag pressure --- more lag pressure = more distance, turf and wind conditions, etc)

Fourth Programming Routine - feeling relationship of the alignments in the swing and the target. Homer believed that it's very easy for a golfer to have 'downstroke blackout' where the downswing happens so fast that they don't have any conscious thoughts or feels in the swing, which usually leads to disaster.

Fifth Programming Routine - a mental 'button' that wipes your mind of negative thoughts, anger, frustration, looking ahead to the next hole, etc and just focuses on your stroke instead.

I like to say that once I understood that TGM is a book about FEEL instead of mechanics and technical jargon, that's when I finally got what Homer Kelley was saying and I could use that to improve my golf game. 14-0 delves a bit into feel. There's a lot of talk about understanding and focusing on alignments, but there's a lot of talk about feel as well. Once you understand the role of feel in learning TGM and how to achieve the proper feels for your own game, the mechanics will follow. Like I've posted time and time again, learn feel FROM mechanics.



Kevin Carter said...



John Graham said...

Keep it going. Very enjoyable.


Anonymous said...

Percy Boomer said it years (more than half a century) ago.....consistency will come when you concentrate and learn by "remembered feel".....the feel of a stroke that produces a favorable shot.

He also believed one should teach by building on what a golfer is doing RIGHT, and add to it. Learn and add to those feelings when something good happens.

Anonymous said...

The analysis of Brian Gay's swing showed that Peter Kostis had no idea what Brian was doing.
How can one trust any other analysis by him?

Advanced Swing Engineering said...

Has anyone ever trusted him? Unfortunately yes !