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Hornussen - The swiss version of golf

This photo from one hundred years ago is not a golfer experimenting with a super long shaft in his driver; any golfer seeing this photo would be excused for thinking that though. It looks like a golf swing, albeit a little over-turned in the body. The knee action can be compared with one of the modern long-hitting specialists we see on the very popular long driving tour.

The extreme flat shoulder plane is an effect of the super-long shaft. Yet if we look closer, the head on the end of the shaft has nothing to do with golf. Likewise, the tee and ball he is about to hit are in the lower right corner. That cow field out in front of the figure surely has little to do with a golf course as well.

In fact, it is the Swiss national sport of Hornussen.

Hornussen , like golf, has origins that go a long way back in history, many hundreds of years.

Team Hasle 1911

Just like golf, a major part of the objective and fun is to hit an implement as far as is possible. The biggest difference is that Hornussen is a team sport involving 16-20 players.

Each player takes a turn to hit the ball or nous out towards a triangular marked field. The speeds that the nous generates create a buzzing noise on take-off which is similar to the hum of a hornet. Put the two words Hornet and nous together and we get the name Hornussen.

Lee Trevino would be proud of the `exit `path.

Lee Trevino uses baseball to explain the path of the swing after contact. "The ball direction is towards second base, while the clubhead, and swing path, must be low and left around the body, directed towards the third base."

The speeds that are generated when the nous takes off can exceed 300km/h (186 mph)

John Daly, gladiator of the eighties was the long hitting king for twenty years

The collection of potential energy, the energy of position or configuration, can be compared to the coiling of a spring.

When the arms extend backward these too are gathering potential energy.

Angular acceleration. The uncoiling action of the forward swing transmits kinetic energy. The nearer the power is to the center of acceleration the more efficiently it can pass on to the extremities(The hands). In golfing terms, when the hands are further away from the hips, the use of the hands to develop clubhead speed will be less effective than the use of the trunk and thighs to do the same job.

Ben Hogan using angular acceleration for optimum power transmission.

Ken Venturi, a great player of the past and an equally revered coach, said that all the longest hitters had their hands nearer to the knees on the forward swing through the contact area, thus bringing the weight nearer to the axis. It`s simply a case of efficient transmission of power: the further away the hands, the more distance the energy has to travel, with a resultant loss of power.

Hornussen, like golf, enjoys the improvement of materials used to play the sport. Technology has helped increase the dynamics and tempo of the motion.

The Hornussen experts will tell you that to be a great exponent of the sport you will need flexibility, dynamic power, coordination, and explosivity.

You will also need to remain calm and focused to harness and use the energy you have available.

Like golf, the sport of Hornussen is not just about hitting the ball. It is also a game of tactics and focus.

Up to 16 catchers are waiting for the ball in flight. If they can stop it from landing they save points.

Use the link by clicking on the photo below to enjoy an early film about the Hornussen sport

I have a special thanks for Hans Hofmann, who provided nearly all of the Hornussen photographs. He has a special feel for the dynamics of motion and capturing the perfect moment. Like all work on this site every image and film falls under copyright laws.

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Dear Bill, I have actually tried Hornussen; it was a complete culture clash, local Swiss people seeing a foreigner actually doing better than they would have thought and an oldish golf pro thinking basically the reverse! (I have lived in Switzerland for more than 20 years now, so I allow myself the comment). It was a wonderful day, making friendships, which is an undervalued side of golf. PS It's all to do with timing the release

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Thanks so much Justin and sorry I have taken so long to reply. It really does seem to be a wonderful social sport, I am hoping to get a Hornussen team to come up to Northern Germany and play a match with our first team at Burgdorf golf club. Coincidentally there is a town in Switzerland called Burgdorf where they have a Hornussen team.

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