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Bernard Cooke, international coach - In search of the secret move.

A book that was written by Bernard Cooke with the help of his scientist son in the late nineteen-nineties. It failed to reach the publisher before he died but will now be digitally available next year( my apologies for the delay but I am working to improve some of the weaker parts).

Father and son relax in front of the clubhouse-Bernard looking cool with his pipe in mouth.

Bernard Cooke`s life and times intertwine with his thoughts on the golf swing. He even asks questions and provides us with detailed knowledge of the mental aspects (with the help of his son) of the game.

When Bernard Cooke passed away in the year 2000 he, unfortunately, took knowledge and experience going back nearly 70 years with him. If you add the wisdom passed on from his father, assistant professional to six times Open winner Harry Vardon in 1907 at Bury golf club, you can include thirty more years.

Traveling through two world wars, and ending at the turn of the century this story discusses players from Harry Vardon to Tiger Woods.

90% of the visual material ( from Harry Vardon to Tiger Woods, about 50 images) is taken out of the film libraries of Bernard and his great friend Irv Schloss. The rest is material from editor Bill Knowles

Bernard practicing at 80 years old.

Always a fit and energetic man he kept his health and agility to the end. The swing says a lot about Bernard. Using an overlength shaft driver with a 160cc head he is amazingly uptempo and bright for his age.


Two segments from the Bernard Cooke golf book

Mechanics and mind.

Stress and the golf swing.

"High levels of stress, which I will call muscular hypertension, so as not to confuse it with high blood pressure and its opposite, over-relaxation, which I will call hypo-tension, probably manifest the most common mental states which limit smooth swinging and create swing faults. The use of effort builds up enormous muscular hypertension, as does the perceived fear of not hitting the ball properly. That, in its simplest terms, is fear of missing the ball completely or, at best, duffing the shot. This fear is not real, in the sense that you will not suffer any physical penalty as a consequence, but it seems to play far too big a part in restricting the efforts of most club golfers. I, as a mechanics teacher, can only work on building, as near as is humanly possible, a fault-free machine. I have no doubt that scientists and psychologists will eventually come up with a philosophical formula that will cut out most of the hard work involved in that.

Over-tense muscles, and muscular hypertension, restrict the flexibility of your joints and good swinging becomes impossible. On the other hand, you would be too relaxed if you trained your muscles to achieve the consistency of a sponge. There has to be a certain amount of muscular tension, as opposed to mental tension, more commonly referred to as anxiety. You would flop about like a rag doll; even trying to stand upright would be a problem in that condition. I remember teaching a man who had achieved what could be described as, virtually, complete muscular relaxation. I could stick my fingers into his arm muscles and literally make a hole in his flesh, without of course breaking his skin. It was probably the most exaggerated example of over-relaxed muscles I have ever seen. That is muscular hypo-tension.

When you watch the superstars on the television you can be deceived into believing the illusion that the professionals are "taking it easy", which, when you try to emulate it, can set up a state of floppiness in your swing that can completely deprive you of any power at all. Really, the professionals are quite tense, in the muscular sense, athletic, spring-like, and 'ready for the off. This gives them firmness with speed and control, which, while it does not appear to exhibit effort, has such tremendous kinetic energy that it generates club-head speeds of around one hundred and forty miles per hour. They may be relaxed mentally, but they certainly are not relaxed physically. For example, take a close look at the assemblies of Tiger Woods and our own Lee Westwood(photo). There is nothing floppy about their postures and they will from these start positions successfully generate tremendous energy in their movements.

Undoubtedly, the two extremes of muscular tension are brought about by mental conditions; in the first place, anxiety and, in the second place, fatigue, or deliberately applied relaxation, like the student I mentioned above. You must have a measure of muscular tension to stand upright and no less to make an effectively controlled golf swing. Probably, lying flat on your back would be the most relaxed position you could physically assume. You can't play golf down there; your muscles need tension, merely to enable you to stand upright."


"In the nineteen-thirties, Henry Cotton, Alf Padgham, and the Whitcombe brothers were my home country playing heroes, but, of course, Walter Hagen and Bobby Jones, from the United States, held sway internationally. I was fortunate enough to have watched these golfing legends play and I still have their autographs to prove it. Also, I was always impressed with the skills of Bert Gadd, one of five professional golfing brothers. He beat Henry Cotton, in tournaments, on a number of occasions and I always recall him playing in the Daily Mail Tournament at Redcar in February 1937. He was partnered with another of my father's assistants and, against a howling gale, laced with snow, I saw him drive onto the 286-yard second hole. That drive seemed to have a three-tiered flight, starting low, soaring a little higher and then higher still, to its third level, before descending to the green and coming to rest about nine feet from the pin; an 'easy' eagle! In the same round, he played out of the middle of a water-logged bunker. The ball pitched ten feet past the hole and spun back to within two feet of the flag. I still regard that as probably the best golf shot I have seen in my life. In later years, I played many times with Bert and learned much from him. Jointly, we organized and ran the Northumberland and Durham Professionals Society. Now in his mid-eighties, Bert still plays off a five handicap and he can easily beat his age over eighteen holes!

"Henry Cotton concentrated on active strong hands. I played with him in his last Open and I expected to see some poor putting, in fact, he was brilliant on the greens and a most congenial partner. He invented a motor tyre drill for his pupils and himself, hammering away with a mid-iron on one and then two tyres. Active or passive hands, he used his body turn and kept his waist angle, very well indeed."

Differentiating between idiosyncrasy and fault.....


One of the biggest driving forces in the latter half of Bernard Cooke`s career was the search for the secret of the golf swing. He studied swing reel film after swing reel film of the best players in the world. He traveled to several Tournaments every year just to film and study the players in form. He analyzed and considered every movement with the pragmatic and open mind he had developed from research dating back 40-plus years.

This book is the culmination of the previously mentioned studies, and because it reveals the most important factors that have been established in the last 30 years I consider it to reveal the two secrets.

The book will be digitally available in June - August 2023 in installments to all members of this site!

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John Mule'
John Mule'
Jan 21, 2022

Cannot wait for this digital book to become available. I have a copy of his book 'Golf: The Professional Approach' and remember his instructional articles that appeared in the USGA Golf Journal magazines in the 80's. The information was pure gold.

John Mule'
John Mule'
Oct 07, 2022
Replying to

Thanks Bill - Looking forward to it.

John Mule'

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