Golf Tips - Evolution of the Modern Golf Swing

By Tom Ward

Along about 1910 to 1920 the golf professionals were altering the body motions and improving the golf club.One of the first big changes was in the grip. A great player at this time, Harry Vardon,became well known due to this change. He is credited with starting the overlapping grip now called(the Vardon grip).

The Vardon Grip:Both hands on the club firmly with the creases(the V's that the thumb and the forefinger create)parallel and pointing over the right shoulder. The right palm covering the left thumb and the little finger of the right hand overlapping the forefinger of the left hand. This type of grip helps keep the grip correctly firm throughout the entire swing. The left arm was extended more on the backswing with a deeper wrist cock instead of loose at the top. They used a slightly open stance with the ball played more forward in the stance, and the weight staying slightly more to center with the right knee straight. At the top they keep the left knee straighten more than it is today at impact. This created a hitting action against a firm left side motion.

To help this type of action the clubs were shortened and lightened which encouraged a shorter and steeper plane swing( more upright arc). Bobby Jones had a tremendous impact on the evolution of the golf swing. The results he got from his swing started the pros studying some of the characteristics of that motion. Some of the more important changes were the increased resistance of the legs on the backswing with firmer body moements; and the ball being played closer and more to the left foot.

Many things influenced the evolution of the golf swing. Just to name a few; the type of clothing worn, improvement of materials in the construction of golf equipment and golf course maintenance. As late as the 1920's, golfers dressed to play the game of golf. Knickers(plus fours), dress coat(no such thing as a sport coat), white shirt, long sleeves, and of course a tie. For example, one of the great older golf pros from Scotland I studied under back in Ohio would never dress in anything other than a white shirt and tie until his death.

By contrast,today's golfers dress in light-weight clothing which allows more freedom of motion.Clothing had a big influence in the evolution of the golf swing; as well as the equipment - from a one-piece to a two-piece with hickory shafts,then onto steel shafts; the first golf ball, the "feathery"(a leather cover stuffed with feathers), to the "gutta perca"(a cheap form of rubber)to the rubber wound with balata cover; the golf course maintenance equipment from the horse-drawn to the tractor; and chemicals which improved the grass and weed control, all shared in this evolution. The evolution of the golf swing goes hand-in-hand with the eveolution of the golf club and balls as well as the golf course.From the " feathery"to the 'gutta percha", from the sheperds' crook to the hickory shaft with wood or steel heads was a giant step in the evolution of the golf swing.

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