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Coach Paterson's Blog
The 2104 H.Y.P. Matches
Despite an unusual cold spell, the HYP Alumni Matches at the Chechessee Creek Club in Okatie, SC
went ahead with a small contingent of hardy Yale and Harvard golfers. With reduced participation, the
match format was moved to medal play over 36 - holes Golfers stayed at the Chechessee Creek Club
Lodge and on the eve of the tournament, enjoyed and entertaining birthday celebration of the Robert
Burns, the infamous Scottish bard. Coach Paterson served as host and gave an authentic Scottish
rendition of the Toast to The Haggis. The traditional fare of haggis, neeps and tatties was greeted with
suspicion by most attendees, but after sprinkling it with a dash of malt whisky, found it palatable.
Everyone survived the ordeal but it’s unclear if it helped golf scores next day.
Fortunately the weather improved and the event proceeded without incident. The Championship division
was won by Adam Cyrus Yale ’02 with 155, Ross Martinson Yale ’76 won the Senior Championship with
162 and Peter Malkin Harvard ’56 defended his Super Senior Championship with a net score of 141.
Each winner received a platter engraved with Harvard, Yale and Princeton emblems noting their
Special thanks go to Harvard’s Peter Malkin, chief of Malkin Airlines for hauling the New York party to
Savannah, GA. Without Peter it’s doubtful that most of the Yalies on board would have found their way to
South Carolina. Thanks also to Chechessee Creek Club General Manager, Franklin Newell and his staff
for welcoming us, looking after all our needs and making sure we had a good time. A private club,
Chechessee Creek Club has one of the best courses in Low Country, a true walker’s course designed
by Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore and the ideal venue for our event. It was privilege to play the
Chechessee Creek Course. See www.chechesseecreekclub.com
A Golfer’s Relationship with Par
As a child, when I behaved badly, which was rarely, I remember my mother telling me the Bogey man would get me. Although the threat of the Bogey Man
scared me, I was never quite sure what he would do to me. As a young golfer, however, I learned the term Bogey came from an old Scottish word “Bogle”
meaning a goblin or devil in Scottish Folklore. The punishment became very clear and the Bogey Man to this day haunts me to habitually torment me on the
In the late 19th Century Bogey was the standard on the score card for the average golfer. Today it’s considered to be one-over-par for all holes on the course
and no longer appear as a figure on the score card. Back in the 1920s, however, depending on the difficulty of the course, it might add one over par to a few
holes, calculating bogey as six over par, seventy eight. At that time, membership of many elite British Golf Clubs was comprised of active or retired military
officers who decided Bogey should have a rank so they made him a Colonel. Golfers coming off the course were asked how they fared against the Colonel.
The famous Colonel Bogey March was inspired by a golfing military man who replaced “fore” by loudly whistling the opening two-note phrase. During my
National Service stint in the Royal Force, (the Draft in the US), I often played Colonel Bogey on a b-flat coronet as a member of the base band; another bogey
The term par was derived from the stock exchange referring to the value of a stock being under or over par. Surprisingly, par in golf originated in Britain during
the 1870 Open Championship at Prestwick, when two leading professional competitors, David Strath and James Anderson, responding to a question by a
golf writer named Doleman, asking what score is likely to win the Open Belt, said perfect play would produce a score of 49 for the then 12-hole course.
Doleman in his newspaper correspondence called this par for the Prestwick Course and reported that young Tom Morris won with a score of two strokes over
par. From that moment, replacing bogey, par evolved over a century to become the mathematical sought-after ideal score in golf.
All golfers, whether aware of it or not, have a relationship with par. It is there when they are born and there when they die; immutable, implacable, indelible,
indomitable, uncompromising, undeniable par. Par is a competitive mathematical standard that we solely play against. It’s on the score card, on the
scoreboard and now on the Internet and every electronic golf measurement tool, and above all, it’s always on our minds. What other sport starts with a fixed
competitor, a fixed standard, with a score already on the board. In the journey through our golfing life our relationship with par changes; as a novice,
constellations from par, totally focused on connecting with the ball, to amateurish control, hopefully expertise and eventual decline in later years. Paralleling
life, we go through the cycle of growth and decay, regardless of one’s place in golf, from rank, struggling amateur to P.G.A. or L.P.G.A. Tour stardom.
Par is a tough competitor, constantly with us on the ubiquitous score card, all manner of hole signs and yardage plaques, often illustrated showing the best
route to the hole and to hopefully achieve par. We are surrounded by physical reminders of par. Our consciousness of par is ever present, imprinted by
countless coaches, starters, score-keepers, golf chairmen and women, locker-room bores and friends over beers and let’s not forget the Golf Channel.
How do we deal with par and what are our expectations? Few of us live in the rare under- par environment, or at even-par. Some of us live above but close to
par but most of us live far from par, in a large, remote, golf wilderness filled with the anguish of unskilled golfers. Nevertheless, regardless of their great
distance from par, most golfers find some pleasure and equality from the balm of their handicap, an earned number that represents golfing ability in relation
to par; the larger the number, the poorer they play. The reality is they are disadvantaged by their distance from par, yet the handicap brings them closer to par,
a sort of life-line to par.
Alas, the distance from par is often manipulated and exploited. Some golfers have an honest relationship with par, accounting for every stroke within the
rules of the game. Others deliberately distance themselves from par, seeking illicit gain, often monetary, but more often seeking only the aura and admiration
of the winners circle. The sadist of all golfers is the one who seeks the status of being close to par, close to scratch, a score performed once or twice a year,
instead of regularly, struggling to keep-face with a fake handicap.
The path to enlightenment in golf is to be in tune with par. It’s possible you have never seriously thought about your relationship with par and how it affects
your game. Perhaps it’s time to take an honest look at where you stand with par and how you are handling it. What is your level of consciousness with par?
Are you obsessed with par, religiously entering every score as soon as ball hits the bottom of the cup, calculating immediately how many over or under is
recorded, or is par just hanging around in the background, subliminal, and unrelated to your performance.
Begin by acknowledging and willingly accept where you are mathematically with par. Determine how many times during a round of golf you expect to make a
par, ignore your handicap which involves many more factors than par. Try a new approach to par, the success of which requires your attention to par in the
following manner. Regard par as eighteen independent numbers, not a total, each with distinctive features providing a personal value for achieving par. Are
you a two or three-par golfer or a nine-par golfer, or have reached the supreme order of an eighteen- par golfer? If you are content with where you are in the
spectrum of par golf, it’s likely you will easily make your allocation of pars without much effort and disappointment. What about the holes where you don’t
make par? Then take the same look at your relationship with bogey and so on if you are willing to go as fare as dealing with double-bogey.
With the gift of consciousness, we are seeking awareness of where we stand in golf, to be content with it and to find pleasure in the game; much the same as
our consciousness of where we stand in many other aspects of life. Henry Chellow, a London University lecturer on psychology and close golfing pal of
Charles B. Macdonald put it this way. “The man (or woman I add) who regards golf as a matter of ‘card and pencil’ is not a golfer at all, for he has lost his soul
to arithmetic, whereas the true golfers puts his soul into the game for the love of it. “
On a recent visit to Florida with some friends, we had the pleasure of playing Seth Raynor’
s, Mountain Lake course. Without hills, it was like junior Yale course, with classic Raynor
forms, with an emphasis on rectangular greens and large deep squares-off bunkers. Set
amidst a flat, tropical Florida landscape, it was pleasant easy walk greeting the golfer on
each tee with a fresh interesting picture of the hole about to be played. The greens,
including a Biarritz, Bowl and a Redan, offered enough, practical contour to be interesting,
From Mountain Lake we traveled to the latest Florida golf complex named Streamsong, in
the middle of nowhere, on an unusual, moon-like landscape of pointed, rusty - orange
sand dunes, poised beside large troughs of deep blue water. Built on a desert site mined
for phosphate some years ago, the craters dug and piled had been effectively transformed
into water hazards and dunes to provide a unique backdrop unlike any other I’ve seen in
Streamsong is owned by the Mosaic Company, Florida’s largest land owner and the world’s
leading producer of and marketer of phosphate –based crop nutrients. Mosaic owns
Streamsong’s 16,000 acres of land in Polk County and has developed the Streamsong
Resort and its two courses, the Tom Doak Streamsong Blue and the Ben Crenshaw - Bill
Coore Streamsong Red Course; I couldn’t find any reason for color coding the courses,
except their intent perhaps is in the future to build a Streamsong White Course.
Both courses were of the strategic design with generous fairways, dotted with huge
cavernous bunker and lined with sandy waste areas. The greens were large, crowned,
undulating and slick with the mini-Verdi turf heading into a dormant phase due the cold
spell. If I remember correctly we putted poorly on the Doak course with 27 three - putts
between four competent golfer. Despite scoring a hole-in-one on Dock’s signature 7th
hole, with a well- played 180 yard four iron, I still contributed the most putts. We left the
course in shock. Next day the Red treated us little better on the greens.
If Streamsong intends to build another course, which I’m sure they will do, my
recommendation to Streamsong Management is to remember to include a very important
ingredient for the average golfer who is likely to be their biggest customer and that is fun.
We had no fun on Streamsong's greens. They tend to repel golf balls and are a bit too
difficult for the average golfer.
Will I ever return to Streamsong? Very likely, if not only to prove that I am not such a bad
|Alan Donaldson, Alan Seget, Coach Chris
Smith and Charles Mitchell
|Send a video of your golf swing for
a private golf lesson to Coach
Paterson link to the address below
Coach Paterson at
In the early 1990s MIT researchers at the Brain and Cognitive Sciences department
working on habits found that a golf ball size lump of tissue at the base of the forebrain,
named the Basal Ganglia, part of which, the putamen, coordinates automatic movement
and behaviors. In layman's terms The Basal Ganglia develops and stores automatic
movements, habits, while the rest of the brain sleeps or is busy with another activity.
We are born with the ability to learn movements and form habits. Every action we make in
daily activity, getting out of bed, turning on a tap, brushing your teeth, lifting your coffee
cup, opening your car door is a learned habit, all developed from similar awkward early
childhood necessity and becoming skilled through age.
We rely on dozens if not hundreds of these habitual, largely unconscious movements to
get through the day. Scientist say 40% of our daily movement is automatic, made without
forethought. Habits require various levels of skill and efficiency, from casually emptying
the garbage to precise, steady- handed eye surgery. Sports habit, especially in golf,
involves lower tolerances than soccer, marksmanship involves steadier hands than
tossing the caber. Margins of error in sports vary as a factor central to winning or losing.
The MIT scientists' experiments with rats showed the brain, often uncertain about moving
in a certain direction in developing a habit took time to find a cue that offers a hint as to
what direction to chose to achieve a goal. This three - step process, cue or initiator
followed by a routine, physical or emotional and finally the goal or reward that makes it
worthwhile and into what's called the "habit loop":
For better or worse, our golf games have evolved in the same way through the habit loop.
If you were fortunate to learn correct swing fundamentals, you are likely to be a better
golfer with good habits. If you didn't have the benefit of a good instructor and learned
bad habits, you are no doubt looking for improvement. Unfortunately, your Basal Ganglia
hangs onto all your habits good and bad. You can't delete a bad habit, however, you can
change it and improve it. You use the same cue and the same reward but change the
Your cue in golf begins when you approach your shot and asses your needs to make the
shot. Your routine includes club selection, set-up and pre shot procedure, but is largely
your movement in striking the ball, which takes about half a second. The reward is seeing
the shot head to the target, your view of the shot which completes the habit loop.
There is no instant repair of the routine. Changing the routine requires hours of
conscientious practice dedicated to the habit loop cycle, otherwise your routine will not
change. Tiger Woods went through at least three major routine adjustments with three
leading instructors, Butch Harmon, Hank Hainey and lately Sean Foley. Tiger's routine
changes were visible, but clearly did not elevate him to his former winning championship
form. He is still looking for a concise, reliable routine.
Top professional swing routines are honed to very small tolerances, perhaps to a club-
Routines are loosely tuned and finely tuned, requiring various levels of accuracy and
emotion. Opening your car door routine is uncomplicated and handled without any
conscious thought, its automatic. Similarly, brushing your teeth, picking up the morning
news paper or the kids toys on the way to the door are all automatic routines with the
individual unconcerned about the outcome. The golf swing routine is more complicated,
requiring more skill and a large degree of emotional energy. The outcome lurks in the
mind, involving expectation and concern to a varying degree depending on your level of
expertise and the intensity of the competition, all having an influence on your routine.
Unlike the research rat on the correct path to the cheese, reward in golf is not constant. It
involves two senses, feel and sight. First on the reward path is the clubface impacting
ball, then seeing the ball fly. Either sense is experienced to varying degrees. The
ultimate reward is holing out and from there varying degrees of the ball's proximity to the
hole. The whiff being the worst possible reward; better described as disaster not reward.
That brings up the issue of when is reward no longer evident or felt? Rory MacIlroy's
view of reward is certainly on a higher standard than the high handicapper. It's all
relative. You know after every shot. Added to all this is the luck factor, never identified
on the scoreboard and which the research rat has not to deal with, unless the cheese is
rotten. The good bounce from a poor shot is reward . A bad bounce on a good shot is
Changing your routine
Retaining expert advice is crucial when changing your routine. Find a reliable instructor
or coach who will help identify necessary routine changes. One or two adjustments to the
routine are ideal. No matter what stage you are in the game, beware of a catalogue of
change. Set up changes are easily handled , but it's prudent to handle swing changes
one at a time.
The new routine requires diligent, concise practice to change the habit, with an emphasis
on reward. Most golfers, however, idly striking balls with little regard to a target and the
reward factor as it relates to course play. They experience the sensory reward but not the
complete visual reward. Practice as you play on the course. Unfortunately, most practice
facilities offer no more than flagpoles in the distance, often on fairway grass unable to see
the ball come to rest. It helps when the range has golf greens with flag poles. More
imaginative reward would be helpful; something as simple as bell going off when you hit
ten feet from the flag. Feedback, reward is vital to practice. Pay attention to the cue, look
carefully at what you have to do and have a clear goal to support the reward portion of
the habit loop. Always play to a target, and if possible to chose one where you can see
the ball land.
And remember your basal ganglia is impartial, it collects bad habits as well as good
Need to hit more fairways this summer?
golfers on the PGA tour, especially the newcomers, exercising what the golf channel
teaching gurus call "The Grip To Hip" movement. Before leaving the tournament golf
scene Tiger frequently rehearsed the "G to H" movement as does Greame McDowell and,
in a very pronounced manner Mark Kutcher and many others. If done correctly the "G to
H" is reputed to remove the left side of the fairway the game. If perfected you will never
Prior to striking the ball the Pros lead the end of the grip towards and around their left hip
in a pulling action always maintaining the cocked wrist-club angle. They repeat the
movement several times making sure the butt-end of the grip is leading the club head
around the left hip. When trying the move you will notice it will direct the clubface out to
the ball and hold it longer on the line of flight. It also helps initiate the most important down
swing move, leading with the hips. A good description of the feeling is that of tugging the
club around the left hip. It is essential, however, to ensure shoulders are not moving
around with the club grip, they remain behind with the club moving under them creating
more of a lean back through impact. To help the move tilt the shoulders back a bit more
over your right hip. Tourist using the "G to H" exhibit flatter follow through finishes.
Taking a look at the move on the Golf Channel during a PGA Tour event, practice it
without a ball then give it a try on the range. You may hook a few in the beginning and
question its value but once in sequence you will hit more fairways.
|Tim More's boots after golf at Bell Bay
In the midst of Low Country torrid summer temperatures I eagerly looked forward to relief
from the heat on a visiting the Cape Breton in the Canadian Maritimes and connecting
with my Scottish heritage in land populated by Scots who left their homeland centuries
before when the clan system ended. Clan settlements survived in harsh Cape Breton
climate surviving through communal farming but brought no sign of the emergence of golf
in Scotland golf. Most of the courses on our schedule with the exception of Stanley
Thompsons, Highland Links in 1941, were built within the last ten years.
Relief from the heat came with a 50F degree drop in temperature in Ben Eoin (Scottish
Gaelic for John's Mountain) located four hours by car North of Halifax, our first stop to on
our six- day golf trek to Cape Breton. Two months of rain had preceded us which was
quite evident on our first venue, The Lakes Golf Course, a challenging eight year old
after the Innkeeper where we were served the best meal during our Cape Breton visit.
Each of the Birches twelve rooms is named not numbered; if I remember correctly I stayed
with Krasney in the MacKinnon Room, Graves and More stayed in the Patterson room.
More to come shortly
|Proboscis Golf, November 2016
The nose is frequently mention in many areas of the sporting world in reference to its use, size,
design and position but rarely in golf. How often have you heard, "he has a really good nose for
the football," "she's got a nose for the goal," " if I could create a nose tackle it would be him,"
"he played well at nose guard," "the filly won by a nose," "now that the camel has his nose under
the tent, it's a whole new ball game? " Throughout the history of golf instruction there is no sign
of involving or recommending of use the nose in the design or building of a golf swing or in the
development of a special shot. Let's face it, the nose in golf is neglected, except for its essential
purpose of smelling and identifying the aroma of the golf course. Few golfers stop in poetic
revere of newly mown fescue or pay much attention to pungent ponds when recovering the ball
is solely on their mind. Pollen season might elicit a hearty sneeze with a conscious, speedy wipe
before the re-grip. Otherwise the nose is idle and forgotten in pursuit of a lower handicap unless
describing a stinking shot.
Golf is a game of angles and needs an efficient method to create accurate angles, starting with
the set-up and stance. Good vision is essential to correct alignment so why not use the nose,
the protuberance in most instances set perpendicular to and between the eyes as a pointer? It
is said, "an inch in a man's nose is much," so longer pointers, matching those of Cyrano,
Pinocchio and Durante will have a distinct advantage, but don't despair and don't look for a nose
job, no matter how far you protrude, the key is to point accurately. Start practicing by pointing
your nose at every- day items, static or mobile, your car, your house, your spouse, nose guards
and even yours own nose in the mirror, always focusing on pointing your nose. As you become
more skilled at nose pointing, choose smaller targets, door knobs, a computer key, big toes,
another nose and finally a golf ball. Follow your nose and keep it out front.
After fixing the target with your nose and drawing a target line, move into the set up by pointing
your nose at the ball then aligning your feet, shoulders and hips parallel with the target line,
making sure your nose is perpendicular to the ball situated in the center of the stance. Keeping
your nose to the ground, rotate your shoulders and hips into the backswing. No matter where
the ball is located in the stance your nose will remain fixed on the ball. On the way back, less
flexible bodies might find their nose moving away from the ball, but keep the nose fixed on the
ball even if it means less backswing. The nose will face directly at the ball at the completion of
the backswing. At address, hold larger noses high in the sky on the way back to avoid collision
with the shoulder but make sure the shoulder is always under your nose.
On the downswing your nose will move slightly backwards and downwards towards the ball. It will
point slightly behind the ball as impact with the clubface occurs. If your nose is facing up at
impact, you have blown it. A steady nose at impact will force legs to move forward more strongly
which will add elevation and therefore more distance to the ball. At the end of the swing keep
your nose in the air and towards the target with your body leaning backwards If the body is
leaning forward and you are your looking down your nose the ball will not rise. Under no
circumstance nose around, blow your nose or stick your nose in the air during the swing. If you
keep your nose clean and follow these instructions you will always hit the ball on the nose. If you
prefer, you can replace nose with any of the following synonyms, snout, snitch, schnozzle, bill,
beak, conk, neb, nosh, nosher.
Author. Coach Nosey Parker.
“Thou wert best set thy lower part where thy nose stands.” Shakespeare
"Keep your head down laddie"
As a young golfer, these words were rained down on my ears, not only by my professional
golfer father, but also by every passing adult golfer, regardless of their expertise. It was
the common dominator of swing advice from the golfing know-it-alls. Unlike today's
thorough scientific research into every aspect of the golf swing in which the role of the
head deals principally with the mental needs of the game, not necessarily it's physical
position in relation to movement. Being the most recognized identifiable part of the body,
the head is the swing advisor’s focus and, if during a failed golf shot, it appears to have
moved irregularly, regardless of the cause, "keep your head down laddie," poured
forth from the neighboring sages.
The question remains, however, did I and the many other advisees, lift our head up
on the on the way back or forward, were we, in contemporary coaching lingo raising our
Now, after of years of scientific study into the golf swing, we are taught that Newton's
Third Law of Motion, in which he states, "that for every action there is an equal and
opposite reaction," is essential to the development of a successful golf swing. Science
teaches us the golf swing is centrifugal motion of the club head around a static hub, or
swing center, located in the middle of the upper body just below the head; in the middle of
the sternum. Displacement of the swing hub moves the head which leads to errant shots.
Could we have been better golfers if advised "Don't move your hub laddie," perhaps yes?
The two essential benefits of maintaining a fixed hub are longer and straighter golf shots.
What more can the golfer want? There are only three causes of crooked golf shots; shots
that don't go in the desired direction on all elevations. They are, 1. shots off the center of
the clubface. 2. swinging the clubface through the ball along a line different from the
chosen line and, 3. striking the ball with the clubface facing in a different direction from
which the club head is swinging; all problems normally a result of twisting the arc of the
swing. On the other hand, lack of distance is a result of the breakdown in the centrifugal
balance of the swing. The movements required to produce maximum club head speed to
impact are usually out of sequence.
Science also proves that head movement does occur in the swings of our best golfer;
the only head movement apparent in all top tier golfers that does not jeopardize the
stability of the hub. It's best pictured in the finish of expert golfers which shows them in a
classical follow-through posture showing their head leaning backward with their lower body
forward and to the left in full follow-through facing the target. A position eagerly sought
after by the senior golfer, but difficult to fully achieve. Be cautious senior golfers when
trying to get into that position.
This is where Newton's Third Law of Motion kicks-in. Since we are more conscious of
head movement than hub movement, we can still use the head to maintain a stable hub.
Research shows the average PGA Tourist's head from address moves 2 inches to the
right a 1 inch downward on the back swing and a further inch back and down on the way
to impact. This movement, shows the head moving back and down actually helps keep the
hub in position. So why not consciously use the head to still the hub?
Here’s how to make that work. At address lean the head back and downwards
towards your shoulder. Lean back placing more weight on the back foot making sure the
right shoulder is lower than the left (of course left-hand golfers would do lean back
towards their left shoulder). By holding the head in that position throughout the swing
resisting the urge to move forward, will automatically propels a stronger lower body lateral
movement. Fixing the hub allows a stronger release or slinging of the club head through
impact. Newton's Third Law of Motion will kick-in with explosive speed sending the ball
straighter, higher and on target. Feel the club head speed through the ball and a well
deserved chorus of " You stayed weel behind the ball Laddie"
Some exercises to help fix your hub
1. Practice swing and hit balls with feet together, both feet touching. This keeps the
upper body less active through impact improving more stability and the development of
higher club-head speed at impact. British pro golfer, Henry Cotton, three times Open
Champion gave me this advice when I was a scrawny 120 lb. Assistant Pro at Turnberry.
2. Practice swinging with the club only in your right hand (left of course if a lefty) As a
boy, this advice was given to me by Gordon Peters, a member of the British Walker Cup
team 1936/38 who was a member of my Father’ club. This exercise will help you feel the
club-head swinging forward, speeding up through impact without interference from the
3. Swing a weighted club to help feel “Newton’s Third Law of Motion” the centrifugal
action of the swinging club-head pulling away for the static hub; you have two equal and
opposite forces reacting against each other. Feel the body pulling back as the club is
swinging away from you. The Yellow and Orange ball tools offer a fair representation of
the centrifugal action; however, a weighted club-head will offer the best experience. My
Father had one in his workshop, which was much too heavy for me as boy, but early
attempts gave me a strong sense of “swing.”
Are you a top down or bottom up golfer?
This question is usually answered according to the golfer’s age. If you have played for over 50
years, it's likely you will swing from the bottom down and if younger it's likely you will swing from
the bottom up. So why is this important? Bottom down golfers are often classified as swingers of
the golf club, those from the bottom up are classified as hitters of the golf ball. To produce the
best golf results, swingers rely on an even, consistent tempo, hitters rely on power through
Golf began as top down swinging game, possibly even earlier than 1682 when James Duke of
York, later James II played on the Links of Leith. His club shafts were made from lancewood,
lemon-wood, greenheart or the most reliable, hickory. All were hewed from trees, which
produced whippy shafts of torque values varying as much as twenty degrees. The golfer had to
swing and power the club in rhythm from the upper torso, controlling the move with hands, arms
and shoulders, encouraging the bottom, hips, legs and feet to fit with and follow the rhythmic
The great Harry Vardon, six-time Open Champion, in his “Gist of Golf” published in 1922,
illustrates the beginning the down swing on all his clubs, from driving, cleek, mid Iron, niblick and
mashie notes, “the club has been started on the down track without an alteration of the pose of
the body.” Vardon keeps the body stationary as the club, hands and arms move down to the
ball. Photographs of his swing show his lower body fixed until the hands and arms appear to
collect it and bring it along into the finish of the swing. The whole works together in rhythm to
produced power and accuracy. Top down swinging prevailed through the era of steel shaft golf
clubs and was the method taught by most of golf teachers and used by tournament
professionals. Swinging the club was in style. They spoke about swinging against a fixed left side.
Ernest Jones, author of "Swing the Clubhead" published in 1952 was best known teachers of
the top down method. He would demonstrate his principles by striking golf balls sitting on a chair,
claiming that, "thinking about hips, legs and other parts of the body as mental hazard." His
method is based on Webster's definition of swing, stating it is regular to-and-fro motion, as of a
pendulum; to oscillate. Jones states, "the only way to control the motion of the clubhead is
through the medium of the hands and arms."
Ben Hogan, reputed to be the most accurate striker of the golf ball in the game, was the
foremost and influential promoter of the “bottom-up golf swing. Hogan won sixty-three pro
tournaments, including three majors in 1953, to almost matched Bobby Jones 1930 Grand Slam,
except the PGA Championship. It was due to a match play format often over 36 holes, which he
couldn’t manage because of his injuries from an automobile accident. Hogan practiced harder
than any other golfer of his time to develop precision and an essential part of his swing
technique was to initiate the downswing with a rotation of the left hip. He was adamant on this
point which gave rise to the modern “bottom up” golf swing, a technique now used universally by
all major PGA and LPG stars and taught as a basic and essential move in the modern golf swing
to all who now enter the game. The “bottom up” technique, with the help of improved, light weigh
equipment helped move golfers from “top down” swinging the clubhead technique to hitting the
ball as far as possible; the faster you move the hips the faster the clubhead speeds through the
ball. Hands and arms are passive employed principally to connect the hips to the clubhead. If
well connected a rapid move of the hips can accelerate the clubhead and propel the ball
“Top-down” golfers are swingers and “Bottom-up” golfers are hitters. Alas there are some
unfortunate golfers who simultaneously use both techniques and rarely play well; like primitive
man, or woman for that matter, they club the ball as they would make a kill. If you don’t know in
which category you belong, the easiest way to determine if you are a swinger or a hitter, is to
make a few shots by starting the downswing with a deliberate turn of the left hip (right hip if you
are a lefty) to start the downswing. If you are a swinger, you will likely fail miserably. Like me,
you are probably a senior golfer so don’t bother to change. It’s too late, lower body flexibility is
impaired by age. You will hurt yourself.
Coach Paterson. 4/30/2018
The Prompt in Golf
During the act of preparing to strike a golf ball, there is a crucial point in the process when you
must initiate the swing, let’s call it the prompt, the state of readiness to start moving the club.
Many factors are involved in reaching a clear state of readiness, some physical acts to get into
position over the ball, and others, mental checking how all the involved body parts feel as you
address the ball; a sense of being in balance and assurance to fire, to let go. At times
readiness is clear and easy to fire. Other times the sense of readiness is empty, confused, and
fleeting questions arises; what am I doing? Where am I going? The message is missing and the
body reacts instinctively, but more than often, out of control. All golfers have been there,
frequently in and out of readiness throughout a round of golf. So how do we remain at the
The prelude to the prompt is preparing and bringing into balance and setting the correct
alignment of body and the club to the target. The machinery is aimed and positioned correctly
by three important parts of our human anatomy. The combination of our eyes creates the visual
pathway, our ears, the auditory pathway and principally our proprioceptive nerve pathway. The
eyes focus on the target, the ears control our balance and the proprioceptors sense the position
of the body, commonly known as muscle memory. To eat, drink, walk, run and strike golf balls
efficiently we need sensory feedback from our muscles. The golfer gathers together all these
senses leading up to the prompt that immediately recognizes the imprint of making a successful
swing of the club at the ball.
The prompt is the firing pin, the trigger to move. Sometimes it’s clear, unconsciously there
without any thought and swoosh the ball is flying towards straight for the pin. Other times it’s
absent and the brain struggles to find it with split-second, emergency, conscious thoughts on
moving the golf club. The trigger is pulled, it can’t be delayed after all the preparation; with luck
the shot might succeed but with the average golfer that rarely occurs.
The swing is at the other side of the prompt, the result of the prompt. Well- developed PGA to
LPGA tourist swings clearly respond more efficiently to the prompt because they are highly
trained well developed, skilled movements from hours of conscientious practice and professional
instruction. It’s likely the swing movement is always made unconsciously, even if a special ball
flight is desired. Their swings are deeply grooved into muscle memory. They have made so
many great shots during their careers they often feel exhilarated at the prompt knowing full well
they are about to make a great shot, and they often do. The effort goes into determining, often
with the help of their caddie, what shot is needed, what club to use then focus fully getting into
the correct prompt position. Was it Hogan that said, standing over the ball preparing to make the
shot, that he often felt he had already made the shot?
The closest the average golfer can arrive at the unconscious prompt state is on the practice
ground so try this. Choose one club, preferable a short iron and prepare to strike one hundred
balls continuously with the one club taking careful aim at a selected target. You will soon get
into a steady rhythm that will eventually produce an unconscious prompt to each shot. The
continuous repeating rhythm will produce a thoughtless swing. It might take two hundred balls to
find the thoughtless swing, however, regardless of the results you are on the way to becoming a
Coach Paterson, June 2018
Later in life, Oxford educated Horace Hutchinson and two-time British Amateur Champion 1886
and 87, became an avid student and teacher of the mechanics of the golf swing. In his, “Book of
Golf and Golfers” first published in 1900, in chapter IV titled “How to Practice” he opens saying
“Golfers would play a great deal better if they practiced more.” He goes on to say that
universally golfers deny that truth and don’t believe practice helps for great many reasons; busy
lives that don’t permit time, boredom, but in most instances simply an unwillingness to make the
effort. Many try for a while but give up because they are impatient, failing to understand that
improvement is never immediate, it always comes later than sooner. I had one pupil, however,
who was dedicated to a strict daily practice regime, and managed to reduce his handicap from
twelve to four in a matter of months. I was immensely pleased with his progress. His zeal in
search of perfection was made clear during one session when poised at the follow through after
a bullet, straight drive at a target some three hundred yard away, he asked me how he should
bring the club down correctly after the shot. I had no answer for him.
During my lengthy career coaching men and women at all stages of the game to improve, I
rarely found a pupil truly willing and dedicated to practice and improve the infinite number of
number of strokes with fourteen different clubs they encounter in playing eighteen holes of golf,
which change from day today due to weather conditions, level of energy and fatigue and other
daily life requirements. Practice is not simply a measure of swing improvement. Each stroke
requires a special study and hours of dedicated practice.
Alas most golfer spend their lives off their game, or so the say. Either they are putting badly,
drives are crooked, can’t get out of the bunkers or unfortunately, have genuine case of the
chipping yips. Their excuses are never ending. The reality is they are stuck in a level of
expertise fitting their athleticism, and their time in life and effort they have put into the game. So,
expect be content to play, with what expertise you have, as well as can at that very moment in
the game. You may play slightly better or slightly worse, and on a rare occasion have an out-of-
the-ordinary super, low score. You may hit the occasional spectacular drive or rifle an iron close
to the pin, but don’t use those occasional feats as a measure of your daily play. They are likely
rare, but nevertheless enjoy them.
If you decide to improve with practice, Harold Hutchinson in 1900 and Ben Hogan 46 years later
had the same approach to practice. Hogan said, “golfers in most need of practice did the least
practice,” and Hutchinson said above “golfers would play a deal better if they practiced more.”
They believed that to master the game you must master all clubs in the bag. Both advised the
golfer to first identify which part of the game needs most improvement, and after play,
recommend carefully noting what parts need mending. Hutchinson tells us not to home bewailing
to your wife and household that your brassy failed you, and not to leave the matter to chance to
mend itself, take the defective club to some quite corner of the links to “have it out with that
club,” and become its master once again. Hogan wants you to plan the shots you are going to
practice and make them with a clear purpose in mind to help develop habits of concentration,
which will carry over to play on the course.
Most golfers hit aimlessly on the range working on their swings. That’s not practice it’s mainly
exercise. Patty Berg, LPGA Tour winner of fifteen majors on practice tells us not regard practice
as merely routine exercise. Be just as careful of form and method as you would playing a match.
Using your existing swing, test it by taking one club, preferable a short club, pick a target and hit
a bucket or two focusing carefully on the target. Learn to fly the ball to the target on different
flight paths, low, high, left to right, and right to left. Your Professional can help you find the
swing paths, but don’t be afraid to test different swing paths. That’s the route to developing
control of the golf ball.
That bring us to the question off practice or stay put. The do nothing or do it later approach is
acceptable, so why not enjoy the other benefits of golf beside societies keenly sought-after
competitive success? You don’t need to keep score every time you play, just enjoy seeing the
ball fly and at times unexpectedly dropping in the hole, enjoy the sociability of playing with
friends, but always observe your very best golf etiquette, enjoy the aesthetics of the game; the
beauty of the course and surrounding nature. Life other than golf abounds on the links enjoy it
Coach Paterson October 2018
|Horace G. Hutchinson, Born 1859, British
Amateur Champion 1886 and 1887. Author of
" The Book of Golf and Golfers" By Longmans,
Green, And CO. 1900
| Yale's Magnificent 9th Biarritz Hole