2002: A search for golf’s great secret

By Jay Golden

Is there a secret of golf? It’s an expression that you most likely have used on a variety of occasions, including at dinner after a great round.

“I’ve discovered the secret of golf,” you say. Interestingly, as you look around the table you notice the expression on people’s faces telling you, “Oh no, not again.” Whether or not there truly is a secret, it is something that virtually all of us enjoy searching for every time we play.

In 1954, the feature article in Life Magazine was entitled, “Ben Hogan Reveals His Secret.” He talked about the wrist hinge at the top of his backswing and how there should be an angle formed by the back of the left hand in relation to the back of the left wrist. Others thought that his secret was a slightly bowed left wrist (with the wrist bone leading the hand) through impact.

The search for the secret can take you in many directions. You could experiment with the swing thoughts of golf’s greats. Sam Snead, for example, thought about feeling “oily.” Prior to swinging, Phil Mickelson said he “recreates the feeling of the swing for the desired shot and tries to imitate that feel.”

Another area of study evaluates the positions, moves, images, etc., that have produced great shots for you in the past. In some cases, they were shots that were as good as the greatest shots hit in the history of the game. For those fleeting moments, did you experience the secret?

A simple yet intriguing avenue of search is related to impact. What if a golf ball was asked, “What is the secret of hitting long and straight?” The answer would probably be along the lines of, “The clubface must be facing the target while it is moving toward the target at a fast speed at the moment of impact.” Have you ever tried that swing thought without thinking about any other part of your swing?

People search for the secret of life, the secret of success, the secret of happiness. You are fortunate to be a golf prospector, detective, scientist, theorist and philosopher who is searching for the secret of the game. You’re searching for truth, and it’s an ongoing challenge. Having personally searched for the secret for approximately the past 10,000 consecutive days, I also consider this search to be golf’s greatest gift.

– Jay Golden is a PGA professional and a free-lance writer.

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