Hickory Clinic Number 3

A Forgotten Hickory Swing Technique

One of the biggest challenges in hitting the hickory shafted club is its tendency to twist. We are told that the hickory shaft will torque up to nine to twelve degrees, as compared with our modern equipment of two to three degrees. Because of this seemingly uncontrollable variable, we are encouraged to swing smoothly. This includes a smooth take away and a fluid transition at the top of the swing without a casting motion.


So, let us look back eighty to one hundred years and note how our brethren golfers faced the same shaft problem. I was surprised to learn that high speed camera capabilities were available back then, allowing study of that era’s best golfers’ swings. We can see how they minimized this variable.


Two of the very best were Bobby Jones and Harry Vardon. In these old-time videos featuring Joyce Wethered, Bobby Jones and Harry Vardon (taken at the astounding rate of 3200 frames per second in 1930!) we will catch the magic move.


We should also note Joyce Wethered’s swing. To this day, Ms. Wethered is considered the greatest British player in women’s golf. Joyce Wethered’s club head speed tends to be slower than Jones’ or Vardon’s, which results in a natural smoothness.


 Joyce Wethered, Bobby Jones and Harry Vardon



Regarding Jones and Vardon, let’s focus on the following time stops: Bobby Jones at minutes 1:42 and 2:14 and Harry Vardon at minutes 3:58 and 4:16. We can observe the noticeably slow take away, with the clubs lagging behind the hands. The action is reminiscent of the initial movement of a bull whip. This minimizes the twisting made by a quicker one piece take-away. Additionally, it allows the hands to stay ahead of the club head through transition (no casting) at the top of the backswing. Finally, it improves your chances of having the hands ahead going into the impact zone.


Thanks to the forethought of golf lovers early in the twentieth century (and to the YouTube channel of cinepost!), these remarkable swings have not been lost to Time. They endure to teach the contemporary hickory golfer how to make the most of our classic equipment.


Hickory Golf Hub is the go-to place for antique hickory shafted golf club information.


About Richard Bullock:

Richard has been an accomplished golfer for over forty years. An All-American player as well as a golf instructor while attending Purdue University in Lafayette, Indiana, Richard later became a professional golf tour player in the 1990’s. He competed alongside some of the greats in the game at the 1994 and 1995 USGA Senior Open Championships at Pinehurst and Congressional.

After retiring from the tour circuit, Richard accepted an invitation to join the Ben Sutton Golf School in Sun City, Florida. These days, Richard still accepts students on a case-by-case basis.

YouTube Video courtesy of cinepost