The Golfing Machine Misgivings
Q - "Most of your chapters are about concepts from The Golfing Machine. A lot of people say that book is now out of date and wrong on many things. What’s your opinion in this?"

This is something I’m asked often and is an interesting question. The Golfing Machine seems to polarise people who have read it. It’s either revered as the Holy Grail of golf instruction, or ridiculed for being indecipherable and as useful as a chocolate teapot. As with most extremes, the truth is somewhere in the middle.

Firstly, it’s worth remembering The Golfing Machine isn’t some religious text set in stone. Mr Kelley certainly wasn’t shy in making amendments to the book when he saw mistakes or areas worth improving. The fact he’d published the original book followed by five updated versions in relatively quick succession before his passing shows this. So of course, with any work of that magnitude and complexity, there will be the occasional inaccuracy or issue causing confusion that needs debating.

That being said, I’ve yet to meet anyone with a compelling argument as to why The Golfing Machine is wrong. The first hurdle when discussing this is to establish what exactly is wrong with it? Which concepts aren’t correct? It’s a simple question, but not one I’m often met with an answer. It’s here most people’s disagreement with The Golfing Machine reaches its conclusion. It’s wrong because they say it’s wrong. There’s no further need to discuss the matter. It would be like explaining why the moon isn’t made of cheese - it just isn’t. End of story.

Others, however, have put some thought into this question and are kind enough to discuss which concepts they do not agree with. It’s here I learn why people, by and large, disagree with The Golfing Machine. I’ll give an example of a conversation I had with a golf instructor recently. He’s read The Golfing Machine and has a basic knowledge of it and its concepts. A concept he didn’t agree with was Clubhead Lag. The golf instructor told me it was wrong. He said "How can you sustain clubhead lag through impact? You have to release it at some point to actually hit the ball."

After asking him a few questions, it transpired this instructor believed Clubhead Lag was left wristcock - maintaining the angle between the left arm and clubshaft during the downstroke, rather than the bent clubshaft.

So it wasn’t Clubhead Lag per se he disagreed with, it was his misinterpretation of it. That goes for almost all accusations I’ve heard of The Golfing Machine being incorrect. People will have a misconception of a topic and say “That’s not right - Mr Kelley got it wrong” without realising they’ve misunderstood the concept, and so it’s bound to be wrong.

Perhaps the most common example of this is the concept of “Hitting and Swinging”. People will say “Hitting is “X” and Swinging is “Y”, but that doesn’t make sense because actually you do some of “X” when doing “Y” and some of “Y” when doing “X”... so they’re not separate things and the whole idea’s completely wrong.

Again, I have to agree with them. Not because Mr Kelley got it wrong, but because their definition of Hitting and Swinging is so inaccurate, of course the concept doesn’t make sense. At the time of writing this response I’ve yet to publish my Hitting & Swinging chapter on this website, but once you’ve read it, you’ll realise how different that concept actually is compared to popular understanding.

That goes for a lot of the concepts I’ve explained in this website. Some are so far removed from conventional understanding, people instantly dismiss them as being wrong, without even looking to the book with the references I provide.

I think the reason it’s de rigueur in certain circles to claim The Golfing Machine is “70% incorrect” or whatever, is the fact it’s easier to dismiss something as being wrong, than to admit to not understanding it. Also for some golf instructors and “experts”, there’s little incentive to educate themselves and actually understand The Golfing Machine - they have their own swing theories and nomenclature to share with their students and the golfing public. Why learn and use someone else's work, when you can take the credit for your own?

One of my aims in creating this website was to get people to read The Golfing Machine for themselves and make up their own minds on the book. Don’t rely on anyone else's opinion or interpretation of it - including my own!

Read the book and if you have any misgivings, get in touch. If not with me, then with The Golfing Machine HQ.(1) Tell us what concept you disagree with, point out what Mr Kelley says in the book - and what you think he means when he writes "XYZ", and we'll be more than happy to discuss it.

Until then, keep an open mind and remain skeptical of what you read online!


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