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[url="index.php?option=com_community&view=groups&task=viewgroup&groupid=41&Itemid=3"]Percy Boomer "On Learning Golf"[/url] Group Forum: Last July I was in a used bookstore in Portland and found a copy of "On Learning Golf", by Percy Boomer. It is a book that puzzles me - like it's author, it's both famous and obscure: published in 1946, it's never been out of print, yet I had only heard of it peripherally, never read it, and knew no one who had read it - although I'm 55 years old, a golf nut who knows a lot of golf nuts. I know of only one pro who teaches Boomer - Rick Bradshaw in Florida mentions him on his website - and yet the first person inducted into the teaching Hall of Fame was Boomer. He's famous, and also unknown. How is that?

Well, over the last 10 months I've become deeply absorbed in that book, which I have come to believe is the finest golf instruction book I've ever read. I've tried to incorporate his ideas and think my ballstriking has significantly improved (although, as you might be able to understand if you've played golf, my handicap hasn't changed - I am still about a 3). My mantra on the course is to have no ideas except Percy's ideas, which I think are still entirely relevant to modern golf.

I'm curious as to whether or not anyone else has developed a similar interest in this book.

I see that this site is a haven for devotees of Hogan and 5 Lessons - I think the two books have something in common. Has anyone else noted this? Did Ben read Boomer? I've read that the book was studied by pros of that era. There is a drill I've seen on a Ben video on the Ed Sullivan show that seems to be right out of Boomer. If I knew how to do links I would link it, right here. Percy's ideas help your pivot, I think - it tightens the pivot, and speeds it up. That's why I'm striking it better, I believe. I see lots of people on this site are interested in the pivot. You might study Boomer. He doesn't just focus on one thing, however. His manner of teaching is to use "feels", starting with basic "feels" and then adding to them, becoming increasingly subtle; yet the feels never need be abandoned, and are all internally consistent. He teaches "the swing as a whole". His ideas on feeling the clubhead through the "force center" (in the pit of your back) not only connect his teaching to Ernest Jones, but are also positively Eastern, and especially intriguing coming from an Englishman 65 years ago.

Percy was a teacher, from a family of teachers. It is fascinating that his old man was schoolmaster on the Isle of Jersey, and taught (although from what I've read I'm not clear whether he taught them just schoolwork, or also golf) Harry Vardon and his brother Tom, and Ted Ray, and the several other top pros of that time, including Percy's little brother Aubrey, a perennial Ryder Cupper who finished second in an Open to Bobby Jones. His dad did build a golf course on the island, one that catered to the working class - the Germans functionally destroyed it in the War, but it was rebuilt by, I believe, Henry Cotton, a Sevam1 hero, and the European Seniors play there today. This is a little island off the coast of France, miles from Scotland, then the center of the golfing world - and yet Jersey was to golf, then, what San Pedro De Macoris of the Dominican Republic is to baseball, now. Strange stuff.

Anyone else interested in the Boomer?

Percy Boomer on Learning Golf Forum
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TOPIC: The secret is in the dirt - says Boomer!

The secret is in the dirt - says Boomer! 4 years 8 months ago #412

Why do I always wake up early on a golf day, when work days, I don't want to get out of bed? Anyway, here's something fun: I don't know if Mike has read this book, but as I was reading some of it again last night, I saw this text, in a chapter called "It is the Pupil Who Must Learn" (Boomer's chapter titles are an essay in themselves): Boomer said: "Experience has shown me that where most people go wrong when they take up golf is in imagining that the power must be produced by the hands and arms. Yet the fact that they put nails in their shoes should tell them where the power comes from!"

Now that sounds an awful lot like Henny Bogan and Sevam1, to me.
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Re:The secret is in the dirt - says Boomer! 4 years 8 months ago #462

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I loved reading "On Learning Golf", because Percy Boomer wrote it himself, just like engineer-lawyer Bobby Jones wrote his books. Percy was a "schoolmaster" in England.

Neither used ghost writers, like Hogan and others did. What I dislike about more modern golf books is the use of "scientific" terminology in an attempt to explain the golf swing, unless written by a qualified scientific person, because most pro golfers are scientifically-challenged.

I particularly liked Chapter XIX - Interlude for Instruction - A Mathematician Explains

What did you find most enlightening about Boomer's book?
Last Edit: 4 years 8 months ago by matey.
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Re:The secret is in the dirt - says Boomer! 4 years 8 months ago #463

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Boomergolf:

Go to Chapter VI, where you will read this on page 40:
"Now my only observation of many thousands of golfers from neophytes to tigers is that this form of concentration does not assist the production of one's best game."

... and this was written before 1946 .. {{{{SCARY}}}}
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Re:The secret is in the dirt - says Boomer! 4 years 8 months ago #464

So pleased that there's another boomer fan out there!

That is a hard question for me to answer, because what I've learned is that as my comprehension of his ideas grows, my understanding of his more subtle points appreciates. Yesterday I would pause the Masters and go in the back yard and hit plastic golf balls with my eyes closed(hit them well, too, something I could not formerly do), keeping my swing between the bones of my big toes, and my arms passive - a golf "feel" I never possessed before. So right now, that's what has my interest. Generally, though, I am astonished by the earnestness of the book - he thought and wrote so very carefully about the swing - the flippancy of the chapter titles is a counterpoint to the deep thought inside the writing. I think that is what you enjoy, too - and I agree, I loved the book Bobby Jones wrote before he won the grand slam - I forget the name of it, but it is another tour de force, completely original, and you can appreciate the man, both as a golfer, and as a writer.

And if I had the book with me at work I'd check out page 40 right away...
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Re:The secret is in the dirt - says Boomer! 4 years 8 months ago #467

matey and boomergolf,

As you can see, I loved the book enough to make it my SITD avatar. This book changed so many things about my golf swing, quite like Hogan's Five Lessons did the first time I read it. I finally generate power from the ground and don't swing around the legs like the old hacker I once was.

Glad to see other Boomer fans on the site.

Dave
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Re:The secret is in the dirt - says Boomer! 4 years 8 months ago #478

Excellent! I love the "don't swing around the legs". That would confuse people who only know that PB said "swing in a barrel". It is natural to wonder how can those two thoughts be opposed - but you're right, they are. Boomer speaks like a zen master sometimes - like when he tells you to feel down, even when the club is up. He's right about that, too.
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Re:The secret is in the dirt - says Boomer! 4 years 8 months ago #480

boomergolf wrote:
Boomer speaks like a zen master sometimes - like when he tells you to feel down, even when the club is up. He's right about that, too.

boomergolf,

It's funny that you mention Boomer's "feeling of down". I re-read "Five Lessons" yesterday and personally correlate Boomer's "feeling of down" with Hogan's "live tension". I think that Ben Hogan was spot on when he talked about pointing the knees in. Doing so (pointing the knees in) REALLY pulls everything together and accentuates the "feeling of down" for me. I "feel down" in my legs, glutes, back, shoulders, and arms.

Great thread! In fact, I think that this is such a fantastic thread that we should keep it going. I think a great way to talk about Boomer is by comparing his words to modern golf authors. Comparing and creating parallels is a great way to learn, especially due to the fact that it creates a new way for you to think about previously formed ideas.

Please let me know what you think of my Hogan parallel.
Last Edit: 4 years 8 months ago by Dave Smith.
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Re:The secret is in the dirt - says Boomer! 4 years 8 months ago #486

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This sounds a lot like George Knudson too.
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Re:The secret is in the dirt - says Boomer! 4 years 8 months ago #487

Starr wrote:
This sounds a lot like George Knudson too.

I haven't read any Knudson yet. What titles can you/do you recommend?
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Re:The secret is in the dirt - says Boomer! 4 years 8 months ago #489

Okay, I've ransacked the house and can't find Five Lessons anywhere - it's been loaned away, for sure. So I can't answer except obliquely. The Boomer considers a key to the setup the 3 Braces: he wants you braced up, he wants you braced in, and he wants, lastly, you braced so that your hips are what he calls "profiled" - ie turned slightly left of target (your hips turn; your shoulders stay put, your right leg bows in(and here, perhaps is the parallel to Hogan's knee?). This is a chapter called "Preparatory to the Swing" on and past page 70. The "up" brace, as Boomer talks about it, helps you feel your left foot (and then your right) pushing down into the ground. The "in" brace is the arms, and abdomen, drawing inward. The "profiled" brace - bowing the right knee in - pulls it all together, into what he calls the "set" - you're locked and loaded, ready to turn backwards inside and behind the ball, something he constantly preaches. The picture of his little bro Aubrey on page 75 - runner up to Bobby Jones in an Open, and a Ryder Cupper - probably shows the "set" as Percy wished he could have done it himself - Percy was the teacher, but Aubrey was the talent. Looking at that picture, you know Aubrey is hitting it solid.
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Re:The secret is in the dirt - says Boomer! 4 years 8 months ago #490

That is funny - why did he choose the word "tiger" to describe the opposite of a neophyte - in the 1940s? Was the Boomer an all-knowing zen master? Does this explain where he came up up with the idea of the "force-center"?
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Re:The secret is in the dirt - says Boomer! 4 years 8 months ago #503

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Knudson's book is titled, Natural Golf Swing (not to be confused with the Moe Norman inspired "Natural Golf",very different). Check out the Knudson discussion on this site, the cover of the book is shown in the first post. Knudson studied Hogan's swing but his teachings are not strictly Hogan, more of a complliment to 5 lessons.

It's amazing how great ball strikers discribe similar techneques in slightly different ways and with slightly different mental keys. I think you'd like Knudson's take.
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Re:The secret is in the dirt - says Boomer! 4 years 8 months ago #534

Before my responses, I have a question for both of you. How do you personally describe Boomer's "feeling of down"?

boomergolf wrote:
The Boomer considers a key to the setup the 3 Braces: he wants you braced up, he wants you braced in, and he wants, lastly, you braced so that your hips are what he calls "profiled" - ie turned slightly left of target (your hips turn; your shoulders stay put, your right leg bows in(and here, perhaps is the parallel to Hogan's knee?).
boomergolf,

I distinctly remember the three braces now and this is obviously a far closer parallel to Hogan's "live tension". Not to copy Starr word for word, but I also think that it is funny how the same sensation that we're all supposed to feel can be described differently by so many different people, especially the great ball strikers of the past.

My forgotten thoughts of Boomer's braces make me feel quite "shown up". As I just did with Hogan's "Five Lessons", I will now do with Boomer's "On Learning Golf". That is, a blitzkreig style reading in a day...maybe two with Boomer's book. Just need to make the time.

Starr wrote:
Knudson's book is titled, Natural Golf Swing
Starr,

I just picked up a copy of Knudson's "Natural Golf Swing" 1988 printing for $2.46 on amazon. It's a shame they slammed me $4.00 for a $2.50 book. I definitely look forward to reading this book and comparing what Knudson has to say to Boomer and Hogan. Thanks for the rec.

Dave
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Re:The secret is in the dirt - says Boomer! 4 years 8 months ago #535

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<strong>akira7799 wrote:</strong>
Before my responses, I have a question for both of you. How do you personally describe Boomer's "feeling of down"?

boomergolf wrote:
The Boomer considers a key to the setup the 3 Braces: he wants you braced up, he wants you braced in, and he wants, lastly, you braced so that your hips are what he calls "profiled" - ie turned slightly left of target (your hips turn; your shoulders stay put, your right leg bows in(and here, perhaps is the parallel to Hogan's knee?).
boomergolf,

I distinctly remember the three braces now and this is obviously a far closer parallel to Hogan's "live tension". Not to copy Starr word for word, but I also think that it is funny how the same sensation that we're all supposed to feel can be described differently by so many different people, especially the great ball strikers of the past.

My forgotten thoughts of Boomer's braces make me feel quite "shown up". As I just did with Hogan's "Five Lessons", I will now do with Boomer's "On Learning Golf". That is, a blitzkreig style reading in a day...maybe two with Boomer's book. Just need to make the time.

Starr wrote:
Knudson's book is titled, Natural Golf Swing
Starr,

I just picked up a copy of Knudson's "Natural Golf Swing" 1988 printing for $2.46 on amazon. It's a shame they slammed me $4.00 for a $2.50 book. I definitely look forward to reading this book and comparing what Knudson has to say to Boomer and Hogan. Thanks for the rec.

Dave

Thanks Dave. Trust me, the book is worth whatever you had to pay for it. I'm certian your game will benefit.
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Re:The secret is in the dirt - says Boomer! 4 years 8 months ago #557

Great question: what does Boom mean when he says he wants you to feel "down"? First: it's a feeling of opposition: you feel down while feeling "up". Thus, you're braced upwards - in the hips, and then, consequently, in the shoulders. This feeling of "up" is in opposition to the feeling of "down". He says he routinely takes the head of his pupil's golf club, and pulls it gently down, as they resist, at address. Then he lets it go. That gives you the feeling of "down" - and that feeling extends throughout the swing. This feeling of "down" gives you the feeling of width, and extension - which he wants - as you swing back - he wants you at full extension - and the way you feel it is to feel "down".

Hell, I'll get the book again. Okay, on page 72 he says that the "down" feeling is not a feeling of position, but a feeling of pull. That's it; that's what it feels like to me. A feeling of pull. If you struggle with getting that "feel" at the top of the swing, I would suggest that Boom says, somewhere (I believe, I'm not going to look for the source right now) that the swing is generally "at the top" when the hands get to waist high (this thought is hard to grasp at first, but I now know what he means), and I think that at that point it is a lot easier to have the sense of "down" when you're "up". Boomer speak!
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Re:The secret is in the dirt - says Boomer! 4 years 8 months ago #562

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Great thread, great ideas, thanks.

Could that feeling of 'down' be like the ringing of the bell that Elks and Sevam talk of?
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Michael Bamberger on Boomer 4 years 8 months ago #618

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UNDERRATED
Percy Boomer

On learning golf, by Percy Boomer, was first published in 1946 and can still be found in some bookstores. It should be in many more. I know of no golf instruction book that does more to teach the feel of the correct golf swing using an instrument ill-suited to the task: the written word. Boomer was a British teaching professional who uses Shakespeare's language with a loveliness and directness that lesser authors cannot manage. He writes: "...the joy of golf is to feel the ball snugly gathered up and thrown off the face of the club."

Boomer found one pupil to be "looking too intently at the ball." He writes that he does not look for swing faults. He looks instead for what is done correctly, and from that foundation he builds. The point of the book may be found in a simple, crude drawing on page 129. Using a series of dots, Boomer illustrates what the path of the swing should feel like—that you hit the ball from the inside and swing to the outside, as any power hitter in baseball does. The path of the club starts well inside the line of flight of the ball and finishes well outside. In execution, this is nearly impossible to achieve. You are not intended to do so. The caption reads: "Correct 'feel' or 'mind impression' of the swing." On Learning Golf is an excellent book because it wastes no words telling you how to swing. Instead, it tells you what a good one feels like. The lessons stay with you, even when you're on the golf course. A golf book that actually helps you play better. What a concept, huh?

Nov 04, 2002
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Re:The secret is in the dirt - says Boomer! 4 years 8 months ago #811

On Learning Golf by Percy Boomer is a must read for any serious golfer, and definitely for any instructor. Percy Boomer gives great info on not just the swing but on the ability to learn which most male golfers are definitely lacking.
Percy's brother Aubrey was a fine player whom I believe finished 2nd to Bobby Jones in The Open Championship. I will get the exact date.
Boomer's most famous student was none other than THE DUKE OF WINDSOR. The Duke writes the forward in the book.
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Re:The secret is in the dirt - says Boomer! 3 years 7 months ago #12250

I like most of what you say in respect of the brace, but for one thing. Boomer emphasised keeping the shoulders fully "up" which made the club feel "down" I always correlated this to Hogan when he said that in setting up you make a small movement to put the club behind the ball.
One other comparison I make with the 2 books is the 2 handed basketball pass and the force centre.
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Re: Michael Bamberger on Boomer 3 years 7 months ago #12263

That drawing on page 129 helped me to cure my terrible slice and the whole book has been very beneficial. I bought it about a year ago when I heard of it here ( Where else ? ). I have read it twice now and it lies on my bedside table and I read a chapter or two every now and then.
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Re:The secret is in the dirt - says Boomer! 3 years 7 months ago #12264

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In one of Sevam1's youtube videos, I think it may be "where's the weight" Mike talks about settling into the right leg. I have a good feeling these are related.boomergolf wrote:
Great question: what does Boom mean when he says he wants you to feel "down"? First: it's a feeling of opposition: you feel down while feeling "up". Thus, you're braced upwards - in the hips, and then, consequently, in the shoulders. This feeling of "up" is in opposition to the feeling of "down". He says he routinely takes the head of his pupil's golf club, and pulls it gently down, as they resist, at address. Then he lets it go. That gives you the feeling of "down" - and that feeling extends throughout the swing. This feeling of "down" gives you the feeling of width, and extension - which he wants - as you swing back - he wants you at full extension - and the way you feel it is to feel "down".

Hell, I'll get the book again. Okay, on page 72 he says that the "down" feeling is not a feeling of position, but a feeling of pull. That's it; that's what it feels like to me. A feeling of pull. If you struggle with getting that "feel" at the top of the swing, I would suggest that Boom says, somewhere (I believe, I'm not going to look for the source right now) that the swing is generally "at the top" when the hands get to waist high (this thought is hard to grasp at first, but I now know what he means), and I think that at that point it is a lot easier to have the sense of "down" when you're "up". Boomer speak!
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Re: The secret is in the dirt - says Boomer! 1 year 10 months ago #46686

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When I took a University faculty position (in the UK) and had to write a "reflection" on my teaching "philosophy" I said I'd learnt more about education from reading "On Learning Golf" than a dozen dry academic texts on pedagogy. And I had.

What a wonderful book: memorable, humorous, full of anecdote, imagery, mysticism and very very precise instruction - even if Boomer spends a lot of time complaining about how hard it is to be precise! Most of all it makes you really want to LEARN and go on learning.

Anyone out there still want to discuss this great book?

... I recently read the story about the 7-year old girl struggling with frustration to my six-year old who has a tendency to on-course histrionics (as do I), and he was enthralled. Even the mental game is covered brilliantly.
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Re: The secret is in the dirt - says Boomer! 1 year 10 months ago #46705

It's been awhile since I was on this site. I'm still reading boomer all the time. He gets my swing centered. He keeps my legs from falling asleep.

You may remember that early on in the book he talks about his inspiration for writing it - he felt he had finally come across a theory of learning that made sense to him as far as unifying body and mind. He had found it in a little book called "The Use of Self" by F. Matthias Alexander.

After skimming that section a dozen times, for some reason I decided to google that book, and what I learned is that it was written by the creator of something called the Alexander Technique, which is a body awareness technique that spawned other stuff that I had heard of, like Feldenkrais, and Gestalt therapy (Esalen institute, Michael Murphy, Golf in the Kingdom - an unexplored connection there). It is a technique used primarily these days by musicians and dancers. It is about "ease of use" - finding ways to minimize unnecessary tension in the body, with the central precept being the connection between the head and the neck. You learn to be aware of subtle differences of tension, and let go of them. The instructor works with you in your area of interest. If you play a guitar, you bring a guitar. If you play golf, you bring a golf club.

So for the last 6 months I've been taking classes. Pretty fascinating stuff. Is it helping my golf? Not according to my handicap, which has drifted up to 4.7. But it feels right.

Anyone ever study the Alexander Technique?
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Re: The secret is in the dirt - says Boomer! 1 year 3 months ago #62309

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Don't go away, I've just ordered Hogan's 5, The Use of Self, and of course the "On Learning Golf". I like your post, expecially the bit about I've read this book, my ball strikings improved, but of course I'm still a 3. Dude, that's me in a nut shell, but I'm on a freight train to scratch, I"m 55, but I've been there before, and I know how to get there again.

How to get scratch if you've been lurking at a 3: 1. Tighten the driver, swing at 80% all the time, focus on never swinging faster or harder, focus on how far exactly you want to hit the driver, never just blast it as far as possible, and use a 3 wood off the tee as much as possible. 2. hit 100 wedges a day, 30 to 50 yard pitch shots. 3. Find a tournament schedule, play consistantly against scratch players. 4. Accept your swing as is, work on alignment and position and 80% tempo.

Sounds like the Boomer book will tighten the driver, the Alexander book sounds more intresting to me, stick around, I'll try and get back to you soon after I"ve read them. I"ve been on this website for a month or so, I'm completely new to online golf forums, (how did I miss this?) and I'm already completely sick of Hogan and his cult of swing plane clones. Amazing to me how the greatest players, who's impact plane is above address, are dismissed like they just dont' meet the aesthetic ideal of a real ball striker. Yeah, that Jack Nickalus, that swing is just not good enough, hits it above the elbow plane. Charl Swartzel, worse swing ever, a FLIPPER, hideous! In order to hit the ball properly, you must be on the elbow plane, even though 90 % of all hack and throw tour pros are not. One must first master the Hogan aesthetic before one can play tight courses, this smash and search dustin johnson just is not proper golf, yada yada yada.

I'm to old to sign up for the cult, my body won't allow it anymore, I don't beat balls anymore. I'm going to improve my piviot, and encorporate some of the layed off Hogan move, all to tighten my driver, maybe go from 50% fairways to 60%, whatever, I don't keep track. I'm mainly a S&T man, long live Plumber and Bennet, they wrote the greatest book ever on the full swing. You want to "tighten", read that, encorporate some of their "pieces" into your swing. Make damn sure you understand the clubface determines initial ball direction, NOT the clubhead direction. That's half the value of S@T right there. I saw Foley on Golf Channel, asked about what his teaching principles were, they were 1,2,3-exactly right out of Stack and Tilt. He adds his own flavor, and is a genius, but the principles are the same. Rose is the most perfect swing on the planet now, and I see a lot of S&T in him, and Palmer, wow, that top of backwing, right leg side in a straight line, what a complete vicious violent bomb of testosterone that is. 100% S@T.
arnold-palmer-downswing-sequence-analysis.jpg
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Re: The secret is in the dirt - says Boomer! 1 year 3 months ago #62314

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Wheatshock,

S&T principles, and Jim Hardy's one plane/ two plane concepts changed golf for me forever. Accuracy is very consistent, and what I like about it most is I don't have to spend hours at the range working on it. I can show up on the first tee once a week and have it going right out of the bag. The sacrifice seems to be distance, which I could give a shit with my irons and fairway clubs. I know my distances and am comfortable with them. It's the driver where I give up 20-30 yards. Any thoughts on S&T and how you apply it with your driver? Is it different than your irons?

Thanks,

Alvin

Oh, and thanks Boomer. Very interested in the Alexander Technique so I hope you guys keep it going. Big fan of visualization; Alexander technique seems like it would complement nicely. Body awareness, visualization, positive thinking, those are the things that will save your ass on the course...
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