The Golfing Machine doesn’t prescribe one particular style of swing to be the best. Instead, it catalogues twenty-four different parts of a golf swing (called components), and then lists the most common and obvious variations of those different components. It’s up to you as the golfer to choose the variations that are most comfortable and useful to you, given any anatomical limitations you may have, and what resultant ball behaviour you want your swing to produce.
Underpinning these twenty-four components and their many variations, Mr Kelley identifies six key features every precision golf swing should have. He calls them the “Three Basic Essentials”, and the “Three Basic Imperatives”.(1)
Of course, the terms “essential” and “imperative” are synonymous, but there is a reason for separating these six features into two groups. The Imperatives are mandatory. You simply must do them to produce a precision golf stroke. The Essentials, on the other hand, are important to help facilitate you performing the Imperatives, but if you’re particularly skilful, you may get away without doing them.
Let’s now look at the Three Basic Essentials. They are; A Stationary Head, Balance and Rhythm
A Stationary Head
Why should one have a stationary head during the golf swing? Well, it’s not so much the head that’s important, it’s what the head is attached to; the spine. Specifically the part of your spine just between the shoulders.(2) In medical terms it’s known as the Seventh Cervical Vertebrae, or C7 for short. If you run your hand down the back of your neck, the C7 is the first prominent bump you feel at the base of your neck.
This part of your spine is the centre of your pivot, from where your arms rotate. On the backswing, the clubhead rotates around the left hand, the left hand rotates around the left shoulder, and the left shoulder rotates around the C7.
If, during the backswing, you were to move your head (and C7) by an inch away from its address position, you would have moved the left shoulder, left hand, and clubhead by an inch also. An inch makes a lot of difference during impact. It could mean the difference between hitting the ball fat (the ground before the ball), thin (hitting with the bottom edge of the club), and also affect the ball’s shot shape. Any movement of the head away from its address position on the backswing, needs a counter-movement to place it exactly back in its original position on the downswing prior to impact. This is fiendishly difficult to do and leads to inconsistent shots. For that reason, it’s best to keep the head, and by virtue, the C7, in a stationary position during the back and downswing!
This is perhaps the most obvious of the six key features every good swing should have. Mr Kelley defines balance as “holding the centre of gravity of the body inside the stance without moving the head”.(3) That is to say; you can shift your weight around during the swing, but not so excessively that it makes you uneasy on your feet. Mr Kelley goes on to say “In every athletic activity, success seems to be unquestionably proportional to the player’s sense of balance and force - whether innate or acquired. Off-balance force is notoriously erratic.”(4)
Usually an ambiguous term in the golfing world, relating somewhat to the over all speed or tempo of the back and downswing. In Golfing Machine terms, rhythm is defined as “holding all components of a rotating motion to the same RPM”.(5) That is to say, on the downswing especially, the shoulders, hands and club should all be turning with about the same RPM (revolutions per minute). That’s not to be confused with speed, however. If you imagine two points on the second hand of a clock face. One point at the tip of the hand, closest to the numbers, and another point near the bottom of the hand, closest to the pin. Both points move at the same RPM. That happens to be 1 Revolution Per Minute. However, the speed of those two points on the hand are very different. That’s because speed is distance divided by time. Although the time taken to make a revolution for both those points is the same (one minute), the distance which those points travelled were different, the tip of the hand traveling much further than near the base of the hand.
The downswing should be much the same, with the shoulders, hands and clubhead, although all traveling at different speeds, should remain at about the same RPM. When rhythm is off, it means the clubhead tries to overtake the hands, and the hands try to overtake the turning of the shoulders. This leads to a loss of power and control.(6) So there we have the Three Basic Essentials of a precision golf swing. Strictly speaking, they’re not 100% necessary but without them you’re going to struggle to perform the Three Basic Imperatives.
(1) The Golfing Machine - 2-0
(2) The Golfing Machine - 2-H
(3) The Golfing Machine - Glossary
(4) The Golfing Machine - 1-L
(5) The Golfing Machine - Glossary
(6) My description of Rhythm here is a little simplified. The arms will be moving at a greater RPM than the shoulders at some point during the downswing, due to the release of Power Accumulators. Mr Kelley's "golf" definition of Rhythm is "Holding both Lever Assemblies to the same basic RPM throughout the stroke while overtaking all other components at a steady, even rate". Later chapters in this website explain what the Lever Assemblies are, but suffice to say, this means golf club shouldn't outrun the left arm - as per the First Basic Imperative.