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Golf’s Holy War

Greetings Golfers,

I usually receive a lot of responses after my Friday blogs.  Just for the record … the record number was after my blog about losing my dog – Harvey. 

However, last week’s generated quite a few. An old friend responded and recommended that I read the book “Golf’s Holy War: The Battle For The Soul Of The Game In An Age Of Science”. 

It’s great – I also recommend it. The author – Brett Cyrgalis – provides wonderful history and a clear view of the battle between the artists and the scientists over the game of golf … and especially the battle over the golf swing.

So … as I was reading the book … I kept thinking about a book that dealt with these issues … in 1946.

You also have to read “On Learning Golf” by Percy Boomer. Percy wrote it in 1946 at age 60 and died 3 years later. His title says it all … learning golf. 

Percy understood the science and mechanics of the golf swing as well as anyone. And, he was just as aware of the art of the golf swing. But, he realized that what people really needed, and why he wrote the book … “was to give you an account of the relation between the physical and psychological in golf – a relationship which lies at the root of every form of CONTROL – of both individual shots and of one’s game as a whole”.

Percy believed that you developed a good golf swing by developing certain feels that are the building blocks of a good swing. His understanding of the proper mechanics AND the psychology of playing are what gave him the necessary balance of right and left brain to teach the golf swing.

I’ve heard for years that Hogan took a lesson from Percy in 1946 and had a copy of his book constantly with him at the practice tee. Hogans book “The Five Fundamentals” makes much more sense after you’ve read “On Learning Golf”.

Of course, things have happened since 1946. The biggie was Homer Kelley’s “The Golfing Machine” … and now we have Trackman, etc to provide and quantify data.

That information may not give you the proper “feels” needed for a good golf swing. They actually could be diametrically opposed. I got into a pretty heated argument about this with a famous golf instructor during a Titleist Staff day at Hazeltine years ago.

So … does anybody now swing the golf club better than Ben Hogan?

As I said … I recommend “Golf’s Holy War”. But, I also recommend “On Learning Golf”. 

In fact … read them together. And let me know what you think.


Tom Abts
GM/Head PGA Professional
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Victoria, MN 55386
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