REVIEW: Ernest Jones' "Swing the Clubhead"

For most golfers, finding the appropriate "feel" of the correct golf swing is a lot harder than one might expect. For one, the golfer will need to know what constitutes a good golf swing and learn how to replicate this movement repeatedly during a round. While most golf instructors will focus on step-by-step mechanics in an attempt to convey to the reader how he or she should move, Ernest Jones' Swing the Clubhead takes a road less traveled.

By his own admission, Jones suggests that conveying in words how a player should "feel" during a swing is impossible. However, the author makes a valiant effort at doing just that. Keeping in mind that the book was published in 1937 and is still considered one of the best ways to learn the game of golf, Jones allows colorful and direct terminology and syntax coupled with an instructional directness to effectively get his visuals across in print form.

In essence, swinging a golf club is all about feeling the weight of the clubhead and having a general sense of physics. As Jones suggests in his book, centricular force is vital to establishing maximum clubhead speed and power without having the player focus on exerting much force at all. Tenseness and rigidity of the muscles cause more harm than good in the golf swing, thus breaking the very definition of what a "swing" really means.

The best example Jones uses in his instruction is that of a pocketknife tied to the end of a hankerchief. In order to keep the hankerchief taught while moving the pocketknife in a circular motion, one must do so in a fluid swing by making the hankerchief an extension of his or her arm. This movement creates a smooth, wide arc originating from the body's center of gravity. As one can assume, Jones summizes that the same effect can be accomplished with a golf club.

All in all, aspects of Swing the Clubhead can be found in many modern teaching methods. Where Jones differs from other instructors, however, is the ability to simplify the game down to one continuous motion as opposed to a step-by-step set of mechanics. In other words, think Fred Couples' free-flowing swing in comparison to Steve Elkington's mechanics-based movement. Both are effective in their own right, however neither would benefit from adopting the style of the other.

For beginning golfers to seasoned veterans, Swing the Clubhead is a short, informative lesson that can effectively serve as a strong foundation to the game or as a brush-up on swing fundamentals.