Just Like the Blue Blazer, the Fundamentals of Golf Are Timeless

The game of golf has become supercharged over the years.  For example, in 2003 only 10 PGA players averaged over 300 yards on their drives while this year 43 men averaged 300 yards off the tee. (Note: In 2003, Tiger averaged 299.8 yards)

PLAYER 2003 Avg. Driving Distance PLAYER 2017 Avg. Driving Distance
Hank Kuehne 321.4 Yds Rory McIlroy 317.2 Yds
John Daly 314.3 Dustin Johnson 315.0
James McLean 308.9 Brandon Hagy 312.7
Phil Mickelson 306.0 Ryan Brehm 311.5
Darren Clarke 304.9 Luke List 311.5
Ernie Els 303.3 Andrew Loupe 311.3
Vijay Singh 301.9 Brooks Koepka 311.1
Sergio Garcia 301.9 Justin Thomas 309.7
Mike Heinen 300.8 Trey Mullinax 309.6
Brenden Pappas 300.3 Tony Finau 309.2

There are many reasons why players are hitting the ball farther: clubs are lighter and aerodynamically designed; club fitting now takes into account such factors as face angle, launch angle, spin rate, ball speed, attack angle and club path; multi-layered golf balls; well-groomed golf courses and religiously followed physical fitness regimes.   

Yes, research, science and manufacturing capabilities have changed the game dramatically.  In 1920, the U.S. Open was played at Inverness in Toledo, OH.  That par 71 course was 6,569 yards.  This year, the par 72 Erin Hills (Erin, WI) course averaged 7,805 yards per round.  

It is almost impossible to look at today’s numbers without thinking that yesterday’s golf was the horse-and-buggy era and now we are in age of light-speed.  In other words, two very different games.  

It’s true.  There are undeniable and major differences between golf played in the 1910s, 20s, 30s and 40s and in 2000s, but as you will see below in the English cigarette cards below, many of the fundamentals are very much the same. 

(Harry Vardon, winner of 6 Open Championships and 1 U.S. Open)

GRIP. THE KEY TO CORRECT MOVEMENT: It is commonly called “overlapping grip” because the little finger of the right hand overlaps the forefinger of the left hand. The photo shows the hands just about to ‘close’ into position for this grip.  When the right hand is in position the ‘ball’ of the thumb on the right hand just fits into the curve of the thumb of the left hand.  The secret of this grip lies in keeping the ball of the right hand “cemented” to the hollow of the left thumb, throughout the swing.  So will both hands work beautifully together.  (This set of cards was released in 1913)

    (George Duncan - won the Open Championship in 1920)

    GRIP AT TOP OF SWING: George Duncan, like most champions, uses the overlapping grip, and the photograph gives the impression of the upper part of the body at the top of the swing.  The left elbow is close to the body, head and neck are still and bent well down.  (This set of 32 cards was released in 1923)

    NO. 4 IRON SHOT: Note fairly straight left arm in back-swing, and hands slightly in advance of club-head at impact. A.G. Beck was a noted English golfer.  His best years were in the 1930s.

    PITCH AND RUN SHOT: Note how hands have led the club down, the club-face being still open half-way down just before the wrists start to uncock. Allan Dailey was a Scottish golfer.  He played in the 1933 Ryder Cup and finished 4th in the (British) Open Championship in 1938.  (This series of 25 Player’s cigarette cards was issue in 1939)

    (Arthur G. Havers won the Open Championship in 1923)

    PUTTING.  FORWARD SWING: The distance the club follows through the ball must be regulated by the length of putt required, see that the club head finished square to the line of putt.  Keep your eye on the ball and do not look at the hole until the ball has been hit.  In all shots be careful to keep your eye, not on the top of the ball, but well below the centre (center) of the right side. This series of 25 Player’s cigarette cards was issued in 1939.

    Just like a blue blazer, the fundamentals of golf are timeless.

    Play Away!

    Allan (Current handicap 12)

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