Tuesday, July 27, 2010



One of the best golf tips I’ve heard is “Swing easy. Learn to live with the extra yardage.”
Have you ever watched a musician or athlete perform and thought “Boy, he makes that look easy.”?
It’s not because he’s making it look easy. It’s because he found the easy way to do it.

“Weakness is your friend.” It was a favorite comment by Mr. Jacobs. What did he mean by this? He said it another way on occasion. “Atmospheric pressure will play the horn.” Mr. Jacobs was an authority on respiration as it applies to wind instruments. While others stressed the importance of ‘blowing from the diaphragm’, he knew that ‘blowing from the diaphragm’ was no more relevant than pumping blood with the heart. Yes, the heart pumps blood; no, you can’t control it. Try it. Pump blood with your heart. One, two, ready, go. Now stop. (Just kidding.) It’s an involuntary muscle as is the diaphragm. The diaphragm is a one-way muscle. It takes air in by contracting. It RELAXES to expel air. It is therefore atmospheric pressure that plays the instrument. (Note that Mr. Jacobs stressed that air brought in by the downward descent of the diaphragm was only half of a full and complete breath. Another 35% was sideways action of the ribs controlled by the intercostal muscles which swing the ribs outward like inverted bucket handles. Another 15% was upwards expansion controlled by muscles of the chest. Relaxation to expel air was just as operative in these other areas. From a personal perspective, one of the best things I got from Mr. Jacobs was permission to do what I did intuitively. It was common pedagogy at the time to ‘breath from the diaphragm without moving the shoulders.’ I knew intuitively that was a handicap in loud or low passages. It was advice I disregarded during performance. Having been to the mountain and seen the guru, I had permission, and even the dictate, to do what I knew intuitively was necessary.

And how does this relate to the golf swing? The gravity swing or let the club do the work. I have a friend who outdrives me by a good 50 yards and outscores me by 15 strokes. He talks about the gravity swing, meaning he gets the club in position at the top and as the hips and shoulders turn in sequence, he simply allows the club to follow as gravity brings it down and around. Ben Hogan said of the grip “Hold the club as you would hold a little bird. Tight enough that it can’t get away; yet loose enough that you won’t harm it.” The amazing thing about the relaxed approach to the swing is that it works for chipping and pitching too. Swing easy; learn to live with the extra yardage.

He makes it look easy because he found the easy way to do it. Freddie Couples said of his swing, “When I am at the top of my game I feel like I’m doing nothing.”

"When I swing at a golf ball right, my mind is blank and my body is loose as a goose." Sam Snead

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