GOLF can be an EASY GAME - Joe Novak - ebook

GOLF can be an EASY GAME ebook

Joe Novak



“The material in this book may, at times, appear to be repetitious, but in discussing the golf swing from the different angles and aspects, repetition could not be avoided.However, repetition has its merits, because it eventu¬ally brings one continually face to face with the same facts and fundamentals.In all fields, facts and fundamentals do not change, and this is true in the golfing world.Continued study and research have developed some new concepts—these concepts have produced clear-cut conclusions which are offered and presented herewith.In addition to these conclusions, I have designed a practical method which can and will successfully develop “the art or knack of performance.” Reread the text, restudy the pictures, and desired results will be produced.In closing, let me wish “that all your drives be long and true, and all your putts real short and few.”Joe Novak

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Englewood Cliffs, N.J.

Original edition by Prentice-Hall 1962eBook edition 2014 by David De Angelis



Dedicated to the countless people in both professional and amateur golf ranks, who, by their messages of approval and commendation, stimulated me to do this third book on golf. It is done with the hope that it will not only provide some enjoyment but may be the means of greater accomplishment through better understanding.


The material in this book may, at times, appear to be repetitious, but in discussing the golf swing from the different angles and aspects, repetition could not be avoided.

However, repetition has its merits, because it eventually brings one continually face to face with the same facts and fundamentals.

In all fields, facts and fundamentals do not change, and this is true in the golfing world.

Continued study and research have developed some new concepts—these concepts have produced clear-cut conclusions which are offered and presented herewith.

In addition to these conclusions, I have designed a practical method which can and will successfully develop “the art or knack of performance.” Reread the text, restudy the pictures, and desired results will be produced.

In closing, let me wish “that all your drives be long and true, and all your putts real short and few.”




CHAPTER 1. The Three Requirements of Good Golf

2. Erroneous Theories of Golf

3. The First Half of a Golf Shot

4. The Second Part of the Golf Shot

5. The Crux of the Golf Stroke

6. The New Concept of Body Action in a Golf Shot

7. Footwork-The Key to Good Golf

8. How to Rate Yourself or Others, at Golf

9. Explanation of Some Basic Ideas

10. When to Go Out on the Golf Course

11. Golf Clubs and the Three Departments of Play

12. Slicing and Hooking

13. Unusual Shots in Golf

14. Lefthanded Golf

15. Women' s Golf

16. The Most Common Faults in Golf

17. Analysis of UCLA Golf Research

18. A Most Harmful Golf Theory

19. The Mental Side of Golf



I think I can most readily explain the requirements of good golf by relating the case history of one of my pupils, whom I shall call “D.M.”

When D.M. joined our Bel-Air golf club his handicap was 10. After three months play over this exacting course with its narrow fairways, D.M.'s handicap went to 13. This disturbed him considerably because he had a certain pride in his game, so he approached me with this comment: “Joe> I guess I am going to have to take some lessons.” “Well,” I answered, “you don't have to talk that way about the lessons, I am not selling castor oil on the lesson tee.”

When we got to the lesson tee, I asked D.M. to take a few practice swings, and then I had him hit a half a dozen shots.

“What do you think of it?” asked D.M.

“Not bad,” I answered, “in fact it is very good: Do you know exactly what your first move is in your swing?”

“I start the club away from the ball,” D.M. answered.

“No, there is something you do ahead of that,” I said.

Finally, after another half dozen shots I made D.M. realize that his first move, the very first move he made after he assumed his position to the ball, was a “forward press.”

For those unfamiliar with this term let me tell you that it is as old as the hills, but aptly describes exactly how every good, reliable golfer starts his swing. The forward press is a slight forward motion, a slight forward bending of the right knee. This forward kick with the right knee enables the player to do a “reverse press,” a reversing of the knee positions, whereby the player can balance himself on his right foot and right leg, so that the upswing of the club can be made with the right side of the body. And I want to say most emphatically that if there is any trick to making a good golf shot, it is exactly this trick of getting onto the right leg and right foot before the club is picked up on the back swing.

After I had demonstrated and proved to D.M. that he had this little forward press as the first move of his golf swing, I told him to never let anyone ever talk him out of that move, because with it he had developed the proper sense of footwork and balance to put himself in a fine position to swing the club. At this point I emphasized the fact that the proper way to swing a golf club was with a sense of body action, a sense of body control. This sense of using the body to swing a golf club is nothing strange or secret. The basis of all athletics is that whenever one wants to throw something, to kick something or to punch something, in fact, anytime one wants to get power into his arms or legs, he does it by getting into proper position to utilize his body to generate the force.

I pointed out to D.M. that this combination of proper footwork for balance and proper body action for power was the basis of every good golfer's game, and that however he had acquired that little forward press, it had made it possible for him to use his body correctly and gave him the basis of a real good golf game.

After this long dissertation D.M. said, “That's great; tell me then, why I can't play golf.”

“You can't play good golf for the simple reason that you do not know how to use your hands,” I answered.

“What's wrong with my hands,” he asked.

“For one thing,” I answered, “you have a death grip on the club with your left hand. This grip, plus the fact that you raise the club on the backswing with your left hand and left arm, causes you to roll the clubface away from the ball on the backswing, and from this roll away action the club falls into an open position at the top of the swing. From here you pull sharply across the ball so that you produce high pop up shots, or you push the ball away off to the right, or you slice your shots badly.

“Now, from this same open face position of the club at the top of the swing, you might suddenly start doing the very reverse. Instead of bringing the clubhead into the ball with this dragging, cross-cut, lagging action of the club, you suddenly start lashing out with the right hand at the top of the swing. The club, with this 'too early hit' action of the right hand, is thrown outside the point of impact. Often this 'too early hit' with the right hand causes the clubface to turn over, to toe in as the ball is met and a series of topped shots, smothered hook shots or shots that go off to the left result.” (This is a common fault with beginners and is the reason why they get so many white paint marks on the top part of their wood clubs.)

So, I explained to D.M. that while his footwork and body action were good, this faulty hand action caused his shots to stray to the right or fall off to the left; in other words, they went any place but down the middle.

“You certainly hit the nail on the head,” said D.M. “That is exactly my problem. I have no trouble hitting them but I don't know where they are going. What do we do about it?”

I then proceeded to show D.M. that after making the forward press, which was his first move, he then made move two, a reverse press (changing knee positions and thereby shifting his balance onto his right leg and right foot), that he then made move three (raised the club to the top of the swing) and then move four (brought the club down into and through the ball).

I told him that was the natural sequence of motion in a golf shot and that golf champions such as Harry Vardon, Bobby Jones, Leo Diegel, Jimmy Demaret, Jackie Burke, Paul Runyon, Lawson Little, Byron Nelson, Sam Snead, George Bayer, Mike Souchak, Jay Hebert, and countless others, all had or have this one, two, three and four rhythm in their golf swing.

I pointed out to D.M. that because of the tense death grip with his left hand, he kept raising the club with his left hand and left arm and throwing or rolling the club into open position at the top of the swing.

Try as I might, I couldn't seem to get the idea across to D.M.—that his clubhead ought to be closed on the backswing. When I asked him to keep the club closed on the backswing I was only asking him to keep the club square with the line of flight as he took it back.

D.M. complained that his fingers were short, that his hands were thick and fat, and that it was impossible for him to take the club back as I suggested.

“D.M.,” I pleaded, “I'm not asking you to perform a miracle. I'm only asking you to keep the club in position as you swing it up and down. This is something that you must do with your hands. Your number three motion, instead of being started with the left hand, which rolls the club away from the ball, should be actually started with the right hand; then your left hand instead of pronating * could do the reverse, supinate, and the club face would be kept closed or square through the swing.

“In fact,” I urged, “if you will do this on the back-swing, when you reach the top of the swing you will have control of the club with your left hand as you ought to. Then and only then will you be able to come through with the left arm and the left side, and only then will you meet the ball squarely and drive it down the middle.”

No amount of explanation seemed to break up D.M.'s faulty hand action until we were in our fourth lesson. At this point, having exhausted about all the suggestions I had, I suddenly came out with this statement:

“D.M., why do you insist on playing with the back of the club, when it's so much easier to play with the front of it?”

It suddenly happened! D.M., instead of thinking of his hands, began thinking of the club—thinking of what he should do with the club—and very soon he learned the difference between what he should not be doing, opening the club on the backswing, and what he should do, close it on the backswing or at least keep it square.

Of course, every good golfer has that ability. Every good golfer learns that it is one thing to swing a golf club, but it is another thing to know what position the club is in while it is being swung.

Well, once D.M. learned the difference between letting his club fall open on the backswing and/or keeping it closed, square, or in position as he made his swing, D.M. began to play golf. His shots started to go straight, and he began to play golf as one ought to play it—he used each club for the shot or purpose for which it was designed.

Let me digress for a moment from the story about D.M., because this is a good time to tell you what an easy game golf is, and what an enjoyable game it can be with a correct understanding of the simple facts:

(a) A golf club will only do what the player makes it do.

(b) Each club is designed for a specific purpose, and only when it is applied to the ball in its true, natural state will it produce the effect for which it was designed.

(c) Basically, there are only three clubs in golf:

1. The driver, shaped so that it drives the ball on a low trajectory and is therefore used for distance shots.

2. The iron, formerly called a lofter, does exactly what the name implies—it lofts or lifts the ball. This club is used to place the ball into position in certain spots on the fairway or on the green.

3. The putter, which would be better named a “roller,” is so designed that it rolls the ball; therefore, it is the club used to accomplish the very purpose of the game—roll the ball into the cup.

But golfers are not limited or restricted to these three clubs. Golfers get themselves a set of two or three, more generally four, but sometimes even five, drivers. They carry a set of three or six, most generally a set of eight, irons. They usually add to this outfit a heavy weighted club to get the ball out of deep grass or sand traps. And, the above clubs, along with a putter, generally constitute the set of 14 clubs that a golfer is permitted to use in tournament play.

Now, having such an outfit is a perfect waste of material unless each and every club is swung in the same way so that the various differences in the shapes of the clubs can each perform their objectives. In other words, golf is an easy game to play, because the player has a specific club or tool for each shot or effect that is desired. All he has to do is to learn the one basic swing and apply it to each club.

By comparison, the game of tennis is difficult. In tennis, the player has only one club or one racquet, the ball is never in the same position—it is either high or low, in front of him or behind him—and to make his shots successfully the tennis player must learn and be able to play several different strokes. But not so the golfer. If he correctly learns the one stroke, he can simply let the club do the work.

Now back to our story of D.M.

Once he learned how to position and direct the club on the backswing, and once he began to keep the club in that same true position throughout the swing, his scores began to improve. As a matter of record, six months after his first lesson from me he won a tournament at Bel-Air by shooting a score of 66, four under par for 18 holes. One year after he had his first lesson his handicap had been lowered from 13 to 3.

In one week of play he scored a hole in one in addition to scoring a 2 on a 390-yard hole, and another 2 on a 410-yard hole. To do this, the ball must have been flying true and straight off his clubs.

An interesting sequel to the D.M. story is that ten years after the above-mentioned instruction, he was playing with a 4 handicap, and in a tournament in which there were over 300 entries he turned in the low qualifying score of 67.

What brought his handicap from 13 to 3? What gave him the ability to shoot a 66, and ten years later shoot a 67? It was a simple case of synchronizing the two things every golfer must do if he wants to play good golf.

First, there must be a basic ability to swing the club correctly, and the correct way to swing it is with a sense of body control. This ability to motivate or swing the club with the body is impossible unless the player has the proper footwork and a proper sense of balancing himself, so that he has the full, free use of his body. It is from the body that the power flows, so that the distance aspect of a golf shot depends on just how the body is being used.

Second, the player must be able to kep the club in position throughout the swing so that the club will produce the effect for which it was designed, and the ball will fly true and straight towards the objective.

Now, D.M. had (1) the footwork, which gave him the necessary balance so that he could (2) use his body to swing the club, but he was totally lacking in (3) the proper club positioning control so that his shots kept going “hither and yon,” and until he corrected his errors in this respect, his golf game was erratic.

Everybody's golf game is subject to the following analysis.

First, how well does the player handle his weight; what is his sense of balance; does he know how to work his feet and legs in order to establish the proper sense of balance so that the body can be established as the motivating factor in swinging the club?

Secondly, how well does the player use his body; does he understand that a golf swing is a double-handed, ambidextrous motion in which there is an upswing as well as a downswing—an upswing that is made with the right side of the body and a downswing and follow through that is made with the left side?

Third, if the player has the footwork which will give him this double-handed, ambidextrous motion with his body, does he knew exactly how to use his hands to exert the necessary positioning control over the club so that he can make the ball do just what he wants it to do?

While these three things are individually necessary and important, there is a certain order of importance, and a certain order of performance that prevails in developing the ideal result. For example, before a golfer can use his body correctly in swinging the club, he must know how to handle his weight, and only when he has a working arrangement between his weight and his body is he in a position to learn how to use his hands.

In other words, there are prior factors and there are post factors in a golf swing. Let me call upon a scientific formula to help explain this order of importance that I am discussing. The formula reads as follows:

Ultimate results depend on post factor efficiency.

These seven words succinctly describe the artistry of a golf swing; there are things to do, but there is a certain time to do them.

First the golfer must handle his weight; but shifting the weight from one foot to the other does nothing of itself, it only places the player in a position where he can use and utilize his body correctly.

Secondly, only when the golfer has the basic or prior footwork so that he is in a position to use his body to swing the club, are the hands free to exert over the club the proper sense of position and control, and the ability to apply the club correctly to the ball. In other words, a golf shot only flies as the club makes it fly, and how the ball flies is a direct result of the club position. The club position is a direct result of what the hands are doing, and what the hands are doing is the post factor that determines ultimate efficiency.

No wonder so much time and effort is concentrated on the correct grip in golf.

I have often said that a runner runs with his feet, but a goffer golfs with his hands. Of course, for the runner to get his feet in action, there is a lot of arm and shoulder work, and for a golfer to get his hands working, there is a lot of footwork and body action.

To repeat, there are three basic factors in golf:

1. Footwork, for balance

2. Body action, for power

3. Hand action, for club control

But to these three factors there is an order of importance, a delicate sense of timing that so many golfers miss. They fail to get the knack of properly coordinating these three factors into a working arrangement.

As there is a certain order of importance, so likewise there is a certain order of performance in these three basic operations of a golf swing. In other words, in the properly executed golf shot the player moves smoothly from one operation to the other, but all operations function collectively towards the final goal of applying the club to the ball. So there is in the golf shot an order of importance and an order of performance which precludes any such thing as a one-piece swing. Be prepared to reach your ultimate goal of a smooth, flowing performance through a natural step-by-step procedure rather than through any short cut.

The other comment I wish to make is that if there is error in the performance of any operation in the swing, then such an error would multiply and increase as it would be carried on into the next operation. So there must be sure performance in the execution of each of the three factors.

• Pronation is defined in Chapter Six.



It is regrettable that

(a) The thrills of a great game,

(b) The wonderful companionships that are available in golf,

(c) The recreational advantages that are a part of golf,

(d) The healthful benefits that automatically accrue and flow from participation in the game

are out of the reach of so many players, because the game is played so badly. And it is played badly, not because of any physical incapabilities but because of improper understanding.

This situation is all the more regrettable because there is so little one has to know or learn in order to play a good game of golf.

What could be more simple than golf? There lies a perfectly quiet, still ball, ready to be dispatched to the desired spot. The player can take as much time as he wants and he has a whole kit full of clubs specifically designed to produce whatever effect he desires. All the golfer has to do is to swing the club.

Again I must inject my comparison—tennis, compared to golf, is difficult. In tennis, the ball is moving, it never comes to the same spot, it's in front of the player, it's behind the player, it may be low, it may be high, and the poor tennis player has just one racquet to do the job. To play the ball in its various positions, the tennis player must learn and perfect several different strokes. Not so the golfer. All the golfer needs is the one perfect stroke— and let the club do the work.

But confusion and contradiction are rampant in golf. There are more theories and more ideas on golf than any single subject in the world. Here is how these numberless ideas have developed.