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A NEW WAY TO BETTER GOLF A NEW WAY TO BETTER GOLF BY ALEX J. MORRISON WITH A FOREWORD BY REX BEACH SIMON AND SCHUSTER NEW YORK 1932 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED COPYRIGHT, 1932, BY ALEX J. MORRISON PUBLISHED BY SIMON AND SCHUSTER, INC. 386 FOURTH AVE., NEW YORK PRINTED IN U.S.A. BY THE STRATFORD PRESS, INC., NEW YORK First Printing May, ,000 Copies Second Printing, May ,000 Copies Third Printing, May, ,200 Copies Fourth Printing, June ,250 Copies Fifth Printing, June, ,250 Copies Sixth Printing, Aug., ,000 Copies THIS is not just another golf book. AUTHOR S NOTE The material that I present here is entirely original and describes completely for the first time the only method of playing golf that is based on the inescapable mechanical and anatomical factors that govern the execution of a successful shot. Golf is not a matter of hitting a ball but of swinging a club. Hitting the ball is merely incidental to making the swing. This is not the popular conception of golf, and many of my readers undoubtedly will find it strange. Yet it is the only possible approach to successful golf. If the swing is made correctly, the flight of the ball must be correct; natural laws take care of that. I have made the only complete analysis of the golf swing; consequently, I am able to state positively and to prove exactly what takes place in the process of projecting a ball in a desired flight. I am not a theorist. I have been actively identified with the game of golf for almost twenty years as a player, instructor, writer, and lecturer. In developing my system of play I have confined myself entirely to practical consideration. My effort has been, first, to discover the scientific basis of successful golf, then to devise a formula by means of which I could place the results of my investigation at the disposal of every player. That formula I offer to the golfing public in this book. Its soundness has been tested by the countless pupils I have instructed personally, and their success has demonstrated its practical value. I can recommend it, and guarantee it, as a sure way to better golf. ALEX J. MORRISON, New York City April, 1932 FOREWORD By Rex Beach I AM a golfer. I have played for twenty years but I have recently made a discovery. I hate it! Golf is a game only to the dub: he alone gets any fun, any satisfaction and any considerable benefit out of it. To the man who takes his game seriously, it is a torment. Annoyance, impatience, disappointment, rage the confirmed addict suffers all of these. If he likes golf enough to try and play it well its pleasure vanishes; if he sets out to shoot a low score he dooms himself to anxiety, anguish and chagrin. For him all pleasure in the sport evaporates and the residue upon his tongue is wormwood. The duffer, on the other hand, tastes nothing but pure satisfaction. He speeds to the links with joy in his heart, he dresses with the inflammatory eagerness of a bridegroom and he capers to the caddy house. He plays an explosion shot from the first tee, removing a great chunk there from with his driver. It is a shot which Kirkwood couldn t duplicate and it gains him nearly thirty yards. But is he disturbed? By no means. He goes blithely ahead lacerating the ball as he kicks it along, drinking in the sunshine, enjoying the exercise and caring little whether he does a hole in four or in multiples thereof. If by some accident he occasionally hits the ball squarely on the button he drops ten yards from his age: if not, it doesn t matter. There s another hole coming. That, without doubt, is the spirit in which golf should be played by the average man carelessly, gladly, terribly. The advantage, mental, physical, and spiritual, which the cluck player enjoys over the low-handicap man is that he gets a great kick out of one or two good shots during a round, whereas the other, if he muffs a couple, decides to drink iodine and jump off a bridge. But let the dub beware. He is toying with razor blades, he is juggling hand grenades. If he ever makes a decent score, ten to one he will be lost. He will begin to take lessons. He will study the science of the thing. He will sneak off and practice. He will buy a set of matched clubs. There isn t much hope for him after that. Gone are the days when he could top a ball and say something funny. As he explores the mysteries, parts the veil and gradually improves his game, a complete change in his mental and physical metabolism. He grows pessimistic and apprehensive. He develops temperament and gets so jumpy that he can t putt if an ant stirs. He may, and probably will, remain a duffer few graduate from that class but his peace of mind is gone forever. The worst has happened. Thereafter he will be no stranger to torment of soul and bitterness of spirit. Not long ago, in the locker room of a club, I noticed a globular little man, pinkfaced and beaming. He was surrounded by half a dozen members who were clinking glasses and patting him on the bare back. I learned that they were congratulating him on having broken a hundred for the first time and that fat man radiated happiness like a base-burner. He glowed, he expanded until he had fewer wrinkles than a grape, he was a boy again. Presently the club champion slouched in dragging his heels. His pallid face was seamed, his shoulders drooped and in his eyes was that expression of hope abandoned which one saw in the eyes of people bent over the ticker tape in the ghastly month of October, With a deep sigh, half moan, he sank onto a bench and sat gazing at the floor, his cupped hands supporting his face. Hello, Jim! somebody called, Will you join us in a snifter? The champion s shoulders heaved, he shook his head without looking up. How d it go today? the other asked. Oh, my god! Jim ran a trembling hand through his wet hair: in a voice that seemed to issue from the tomb, he answered: I hooked one out of bounds and three-putted two greens! A lousy seventy-seven! I guess I ll quit the game. There s no hope for me. Hope! It is all the serious-minded golfer has to cling to. And how he clings! To him the game is a dull chore, a battle in which he invariably meets defeat. Day after day it beats him and he only licks his wounds and comes back for more. But it breaks his spirit finally. Women have the right idea. Never hurry, enjoy a cozy chat on every green, take four or five practice swings to each shot and never let anybody go through the brutes! And don t be fussy about the rules, either they re only technicalities; improve your lie; if there s any doubt about a putt, concede it to yourself. People think prize-fighting is difficult, but in reality, it is easy. One merely has to keep his eye on his adversary and retain his balance. Golf is much harder, for the player must think of more things: he must keep his eye on the ball, and maintain the balance of a tight-rope walker; he must shift his weight properly, hit down freely and smoothly and hold his chin back. In order to accomplish this, he has to see that his wrists, elbows, shoulders, feet, ankles, knees, hips, teeth, eyebrows, larynx, tonsils, toenails, and abdominal ring function properly and coordinate. The hit takes care of itself. This is at least my idea of the game and my mental picture of the muscular action of the golf swing, developed after years of expensive lessons, diligent practice and painful playing. Alex Morrison diagnoses it differently. He has taken it apart and examined it: he has oiled up the loose parts, reassembled them and put the whole thing into smooth running order. One has only to watch him execute a shot to realize that he has mastered the elusive principles of the golf stroke to a nicety which makes the swing of most experts look crude. And the simple way he describes it! I hate the game, mind you, and I m off of it. That is to say, I was off it until I met him and adopted his method. I have learned lately that I possess a left hand and that it is possible to hit a golf ball down the fairway without suffering physical convulsions and mental collapse. If you are an earnest, ambitious golfer, you will find here the soundest, the simplest, the most sensible help you have ever found. Mr. Morrison isn t a therapist; he deals in scientific facts and mechanical principles. He is exact. He is practical. If you are satisfied with your game, then shut this book, shun his teachings, or he will raise the dickens with your handicap. CONTENTS CHAPTER I. WHY PLAY GOLF? II. III. IV. LEARNING TO PLAY GOLF THE CORRECT SWING THE SWING IN SLOW MOTION V. LET S NOT GO WRONG! VI. FIXING THE SWING IN YOUR MUSCLE MEMORY VII. USING THE SWING ON THE GOLF COURSE VIII. PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT IX. DOCTORING THE AILING SWING X. IS THE CORRECT SWING USED BY THE LEADING PLAYERS? CHAPTER I WHY PLAY GOLF? EVERYONE who takes up golf has his or her moments of despair, of remorse and deep humiliation as well as occasions of great exaltation. This earns for golf the reputation of being a hard master, but it is also a generous one. It is perhaps the only game at which the hopelessly incompetent player can occasionally win a bit of happiness. Though it may be on the basis of a blind hog finding an acorn, even the worst of golfers manages to hit a good one now and then. If the game is so difficult, why do people take it up in the first place? The answer is simple. Nearly every one has been led to expect from golf all of the benefits of mental and physical relaxation. But it is a regrettable fact that golfers get altogether too little amusement, too little satisfaction and too little benefit out of the time and money and application they spend on the game. Let s check up, for instance, on one afternoon in the life of Mr. Average Golfer. He has taken up the sport to escape from the pressure of business worries, or the routine of professional work, golf being about the only game that can be played by a man of his age, or by anyone who is not in first rate condition. He dashes out to the course and dresses hurriedly, perhaps wolfing a sandwich while kicking his other leg into his plus fours. Without indulging in any practice whatever, he starts his round by striding to the first tee and laying a series of bets, based not upon experience but upon hope. He assumes that he ll be rotten, but he gambles that the others will be worse. When it comes his turn to tee off, he stiffly bends a creaking spine to place the ball, then takes a series of terrific practice swings to shake the cramps out of his system and start his blood to circulating at the double click. He steps up to the ball with a savage frown upon his face. His teeth are clenched, his knuckles are white, and his muscles are like bands of steel. Nobody within earshot must speak, or move, or breathe for he is concentrating. Golf, he knows, is a game of strained and feverish concentration; for he has read it a hundred times, and the pro has told him so. If he lets his mind wander for a fraction of a second, he is sunk. So he concentrates. He believes he is concentrating upon his swing, but in reality he is concentrating upon a spot on the fairway two hundred yards away, and in his mind s eye he sees the ball bound therefore. Along with this vision, however, he sees others; the picture of his ball slicing fiendishly to the right or hooking maliciously into the woods on the left, or dribbling into the ravine just ahead any number of such ghastly possibilities present themselves. He silently rehearses the don ts that have been drilled into him by experience and by coaching, and when the major rigor mortis in his frame has abated sufficiently to permit muscular action of a sort, he snatches his club back and belts away. The result may be anything. He places every shot thereafter with a grunt as explosive as the blowing of a porpoise; the cords of his neck swells, the tension in his joints and muscles increase. He hits the ball, to be sure, but the results bear little if any relation to his intentions. By the time he has played three holes, he is sweating; every move he makes is jerky and muscle-bound. He may forget his business worries, but only because he is venomously harassed by his golf worries. He comes in walking on his arches, and yells for the locker boy to fetch four set-ups and come-a-running. It is only at the nineteenth hole that the average player enjoys any relaxation. The golfer who has a sincere desire to better his game almost invariably ends his round in dejection of spirit and weariness of body. Presumably the air and the sunshine have benefited him, but disappointment at his score, smothered rage at his missed shots and general mental depression at his lack of skill offset that good. He has used up his physical energy and his moral resistance; he has endured hours of tension, both mental and physical, and wasted enough nervous force to exhaust a trained athlete. Furthermore, he has fought a losing battle with his baser instincts and is both fagged and bewildered by the effort of concentrating on a thousand don ts. That bugaboo of concentration. Those maddening don ts. The one is as false as the other, and neither has a place in good golf. The ferocious effort to concentrate results in rigid muscles and stiff joints, which are fatal to anything like the proper swing. When properly played, golf is fun; it is also a mental and physical stimulus, a revitalizer of brain and body. But as played by ninety-nine out of a hundred people, it results in mental strain, nerve-racking and actual physical suffering. The average player lives in continual fear of doing the wrong thing, and quite often, as he stands over the ball, the fear approaches an absolute panic, seemingly beyond human power to control, much less overcome. To him golf is a misery and a penance. He loves it, but he hates himself for the way he plays it. Well, before I d let a silly game bother me like that, I d give it up, says an innocent bystander. To one who has never played, there would be no sacrifice in putting the game aside, but the golfer has at least one very good reason for keeping on: He recognizes in the game a direct challenge to his self-control. And there is the nub of the whole matter self-control. Not the spurious control of a set jaw, furrowed brow and finger nails biting into palms to conceal a quaking heart and sinking entrails, but the true self-control of inner peace arising from confidence in your ability to do what is really rather an easy job well. For the truth of the matter is that good golf is by no means so difficult as it is generally pictured. The trials and tribulations that the average golfer undergoes are simply the result of an erroneous approach to the game. If the word concentration has been erased from the golfer s dictionary, and relaxation substituted for it, fewer players would be struggling to break a hundred and club handicaps would be much lower that they are. To begin with, golf is not a game of strength but of accuracy, and accuracy comes only from muscular relaxation, muscular freedom. Tension is fatal to good golf, and lies at the root of every error. Brute force has no place in this game; neither does athletic skill in other lines fit any player for it. Champions of various sports have been leveled by golf. So have great minds. If it were a game of strength, All-America guards or wrestling champions would dominate our National Open. If it were a test of concentration, Professor Einstein would break seventy. Rex Beach and Clarence Budington Kelland, well-known authors, both have been my golf pupils. It would be difficult to find two men more dissimilar physically. Mr. Beach is a huge man, who in his youth was a noted football player and a champion swimmer; and to this day is an enthusiastic participant in strenuous athletic sports. With little or no effort he excelled at any game until he took up golf. Mr. Kelland, on the other hand, though very much a man s man, is of such a size and shape that he can get appreciable distance from a golf stroke only when he scores an absolutely clean hit. Yet the same method of teaching that removed the chronic hooks and slices from the terrifically long drive of the powerful Mr. Beach sufficed as well to give added distance and improved direction to the strokes of slender Mr. Kelland. And the basis of that method relaxation complete relaxation, mental and physical. It may give the reader a more definite idea of the value which those two players found in learning to relax on the golf course when I say that Mr. Beach won a recent thirty-six hole tournament with a score of 154, while Mr. Kelland, during the past summer, managed to shoot many rounds in the seventies. No golfer who wants to improve his game need make a pilgrimage to any distant shrine. Everything necessary to play good golf is contained right within his own body. It is merely a matter of learning to swing a club properly, which in turn is merely a matter of approaching the task with the right mental attitude. Age, size, or physical peculiarities have nothing to do with it; the only person who cannot learn to play golf is the one who refuses to walk. I have more than once posted a wager that I can show any man, woman or child how to make the correct swing in three minutes or less, and in hundreds of public demonstrations I have yet to fail. Paul Whiteman doesn t look like a golfer. When I first met him some years ago, while we were both playing on the same bill at the Palace Theatre in New York, most people probably would have said the he didn t look much like a musician either. For despite the fact that he is well above medium height, at that time he was built rather like the Jack of Clubs as broad as he was tall. His weight, I should say, was much closer to three hundred pounds that to two hundred. I was rather impressed when he told me that he was an enthusiastic golfer. Moreover, he offered me a proposition. So impressed was he, he said, by the easy way in which I performed a variety of trick shots on the stage that, if I would try to teach him to swing a golf club my way, he would reciprocate by giving me music lessons. And I could name my own instrument anything for a pipe-organ to a jew s-harp. I needed no such inducement. Paul Whiteman s exceptional girth gave me just one more opportunity to demonstrate that size and physical peculiarities offer no bar to learning and performing the correct swing, so we started him in golf school immediately. Like most hefty golfers, particularly those with big arms and shoulders, Paul had been getting virtually no body action in his swing. In fact, he made an effort to keep his body still while hitting with the arms and hands. I demonstrated to him that he was merely subjecting himself to unnecessary strain while at the same time ruining any prospect of making a useful stroke. He agreed with me, but habit and his bulk combined to make it difficult for him to learn a new way of doing it. So I decided to talk to him in his own language. I had one of his pianists play Rock-a-bye-Baby and set Paul to swinging in time with the tune. Back one beat, forward with the next. It worked like a charm. In less than no time Paul had loosened up and was getting plenty of action in his legs, hips, back, shoulders and wrists. After which, it was easy to coordinate and systematize Alex Morrison instructing Paul Whitman on the fine points of a trick shot. his movements into as smooth and graceful a swing as anyone would care to see. He really proved such an apt pupil that he and I made a golf movie, shortly after that, in which he successfully performed some of my pet tricks, such as knocking a ball off the crystal of a watch. The correct swing can be learned by anyone, for there is nothing artificial or unnatural about it. The mental poise that goes with it can be acquired, and so can much of the muscular coordination that is necessary. Not all, for we are not machines. The excellence of your game, once you have master
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