Joining art, film, and photography to describe the Golf swing.
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05.09.2022- article 1
The first weeks are devoted to my mentor Bernard Cooke- Link to Bernard
“If you want to build a ship, don't drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders.
Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea."
From the little prince by
Art has the ability to aesthetically intensify a moment and help make feelings easier to grasp.
Rhythm and tempo
Alert but not tense- ready to begin an athletic movement.
No athletic movement can start from a loose muscle position at the beginning.
The only part of us that should be relaxed is the brain.
Creating a tall posture will keep the body firm and responsive.
SOME THOUGHTS ON RHYTHM AND TEMPO
The following film shows a complete Jay Haas ( Nine times PGA tour winner and three Ryder Cup appearances) practice session shortened down to ten shots and four club changes.
Jay Haas is a wonderful example of rhythm. His backswing is unhurried and leisurely. Jay has what seems to be a pause at the swing summit and demonstrates a perfectly-set collection of potential energy. He returns without hurry while conserving his greatest speed for the contact and its moment after; he continues on to the end of the swing without interruption. His finish is totally natural and unpretentious as he holds the balance for as long as he feels it is necessary.
Next week-more on rhythm and tempo based on early USPGA studies
The importance of rhythm in the golf swing
Or perhaps "Just as the mechanics are the order of the swing, rhythm is the soul?"
An artistic version of the famous Bobby Jones swing using the Stroboscope imagery available in the mid-nineteen thirties.
"Hidden secrets" - Acrylic on canvas. 100 x 140cm (40 x 55 inches)
Harold Edgerton developed multiple flash stroboscopic photographs and used them to answer a fundamental question of golf: “What happens during the ‘click’—that all-important event when the club imparts its energy and the skill of the player to the ball?” The photograph of Bobby Jones’ golf swing is a scientific record. The exposure of the negative at 1/100,000th of a second reveals a swing that is compact and rhythmic, a hitch or hesitation in Jones’ swing would be clearly visible in the photograph.
Bobby Jones swing using a spoon and playing down the line.
Ultra-high-speed photography has become the norm for sports training and motion study today but in 1938, when Edgerton photographed Jones and other championship golfers, it was a first.
Edgerton used the technique to capture images of balloons at different stages of their bursting, or a bullet during its impact with an apple. So when it came to him recording the elements of a golf swing it was a small deal for an instrument that flashed 120 times per second.
With the shaft held in his hands, Jones creates an interesting study as his shaft stutters around his body trunk, appearing and disappearing into and out of the dark, we are left unsure which part is the forward swing and which part is in the opposite direction.
The overall effect once complete looks like an Elizabethan collar circling the neck of some long-ago royal dignitary.
( Painting on right-Prince Henry and Blackheath -120x120cm-acrylic on canvas). Click here for article and enlarged version.
Continuing with a scientific approach
Harold Edgerton in 1942
From an article written for the Golfing magazine in 1942, further analysis for the PGA of the stroboscopic photography of Harold Edgerton attempted to explore its meanings. Each segment provided a time-lapse of space in between shaft images which could be measured and calculated.
The scientific view-1942 Robert Adams,(B.S, E.E). drew certain engineering conclusions from the graphic symmetry created in the photographs which he felt were common to all great golf swings. At 1/100th of a second flashes, Adams was particularly impressed with the evenness throughout the whole motion and the flowing perfection of the Bobby Jones swing.
The measurements revealed the timing of the major portions of the swing to be as follows:
"It is evident that exactly as much time is taken up in the backswing from ball to the top as in the forward swing from top through the ball to the finish," wrote Adams and continued "each portion of the swing consists typically of a period of slow pick up of speed as the club leaves the point of rest, merging into a period of more or less sustained speed during which the club sweeps through its greatest angle, which in turn merges into a period of slowing down as the club approaches rest again."
"City swing-unhurried despite surrounding rush of motion." 8x14inch watercolour sketch
Unhurried to the top (see the Jay Haas swing). All noise and interruptions are completely eliminated from the conscious mind.
The final twist.
The swing of Jones has six of these periods of about equal duration, being approximately 3/10ths of a second. The duplication of pattern in two portions of the swing strongly suggests a rhythmic nature of the swing as a whole.
Using Webster we find rhythm defined as a "Regularity or flow of movement which groups by recurrent heavy and light accent."
Therefore we are looking for recurrent accents in the golf swing, using the analysis of two portions of equal time value divisible in turn into three approximately equal time periods.
Bobby Jones; "At the top." Gouache and watercolour on paper.
To understand the rhythmical motion using our data we need only look closer and note in each portion of the swing there is a definite bending of the shaft with club head lagging, which suggests an increasing influence of exerted power.
These moments are the key points of applied acceleration and are the 2 key points of "accent" in the swing.
These key points are indicated in the above diagram under the number "1". The forward swing of the time-analysis illustration chart has a solid line and the backswing uses dots.
On the chart the positions of the club are shown at the start of each period, numbered as beats to correspond to the most natural timing of the swing, three beats to the back portion, and three beats to the forward portion. Each accented beat "1" coincides with the points at which the club increases speed most rapidly. Rather than continuing this essay and research from 80 years ago, I want to cut it short and summarize:
1. The two active portions of the golf swing are of equal time duration.
2. In each portion the club picks up speed, travels through a wide angle, and slows down to a point of reversal in substantially equal periods of time, thus establishing the rhythmic nature of the swing.
3. The start of the middle period in each portion of the swing is characterized by an input of energy into the club which identifies the rhythm as three-quarter time, with the accent on the middle beat.
The hidden secrets painting above is my interpretation of the article, Jones swing, and the photography.
The importance of rhythm and tempo in sport.
Control your speed- Learning the basics.
Tempo is a sport metronome that enables you to conveniently & rapidly control and adjust
the beat that you listen to on the go, in the middle of an exercise, or throughout a routine.
The value of the short swing in tempo training.
Many of the old timers would describe the short pitch as not much more than a "rock of the shoulders."..
The conscious to sub-conscious-an artist`s study
"Trevino in flux" watercolour and pencil.
As both a teacher and artist of golf I am often finding moments when the two are comparable. The following section uses art to describe the ability to switch off the conscious and go into a spontaneous mode, in other words
"Only what matters" 40x90 cm acrylic on canvas.
Every golfer who is a true student of the game will have to go through two phases in their golfing lives. The first part will be establishing the fundamentals.
Learning how to stand to the ball with a good grip will need both dilligence and discipline. I would recommend anybody to study the teachings of Irv Schloss. A four part article can be found in the swing through time section. Article one-
A student who learns patiently, without complicated thoughts will need a minimum of two years to establish their swing. If this seems like a long time it is worth remembering that you will play golf for the rest of your life and you will always be learning and experimenting anyway.
It is also true to say if the practice ground does not appeal to you your chances of success are very low.
One of the great flowing swings in golfing history. V.J.Singh from the island of Fuji. Taken around 1988
To be continued
A short digression from our conscious/subconscious theme for the first article on famous art painters of the past who were geniuses at depicting movement and dynamic-motion. I also want to talk a little about books.
Jean-Francois Millet 1814-1875
Millet was best known for his paintings of peasants toiling in rural landscapes, and the religious sub-texts that often accompanied them, he turned his back on the academic style of his early artistic education.
Drawing "Millet stories." Graphite on A4 250g art paper.
His approach was not initially popular in a land where people were deeply class-conscious amid France's politically volatile climate, and perceived with suspicion anyone celebrating the 'nobility' of the peasant-class.
So inevitably Millet did not take part in the landscape subject, which most other artists prefered at this time. Millet enjoyed focusing on the human being, particularly in a moving action.
The pit sawyers seen above was one of two sketches made by Millet for the development of a painting called "The Woodsawyers." Like many of his drawings Millet used his memory to create the scene, which explains a very generalized development of the line.
The final painting which is now housed in the Victoria and Albert museum in London was completed in 1851(click to enlarge).
Millet had a huge influence on later painters, with Van Gogh being the most famous.
Many of Van Goghs paintings( over 30) were inspired by Millet. Rather than replicate, Van Gogh sought to translate the subjects and composition through his perspective, color, and technique.
His brother,Theo Van Gogh would call the pieces in the series some of his best work.
The genius of Millet can be found in the beauty of his sketches
Bernard Cooke`s library and recommended books
"Some books leave us free and some books make us free."
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
When my mentor Bernard Cooke left the world I was invited by his wife Audrey to come and see what books I might like to have from his library. It was not only an honor to have such an invitation but also a chance to see which golfers had inspired Bernard, and who did he admire enough to be interested in what they had to say. Bernard just seemed to be so wise, where did it come from? When I finally had his collection in front of me I was initially very disappointed. A small bookshelf stood next to his bed, holding a modest compilation of various titles.
Regarding golf books- I found three!
Bernard was an avid writer (writing for Golf Monthly and several magazines, plus being the author of three books he wrote himself), many experts say you need not read to succeed as an author. In fact, I believe you'll achieve a more unique voice if you don't study and emulate others. This was Bernard.
The books that were there were mostly of scientific nature. Bernard was a humanist, nearly all of his books were orientated in this direction.
Special books-some in Bernard Cooke`s small library
by Eckhart Tolle
Eckhart Tolle is a spiritual teacher and author, born in Germany and educated at the Universities of London and Cambridge.
We are activated mainly by emotions and we think in stories, Eckhart Tolle is a genius at using those human strengths.
The Little Prince
Some say that this book should be read 3 times in a person's life: as a child, as a young adult, and as an older adult.
There are many beautiful themes in the book: (e.g., People tend to become less creative and imaginative as they grow into adulthood. Most adults are preoccupied with things of little real value.) Perhaps the most important theme is that we give purpose and meaning to our lives through relationships.