It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words. How true that is in the case of these classic images of Bobby Jones. Never before seen in print, this swing sequence is as useful now as on the day it was shot.
View Jones’ swing in its entirety, or frame by frame, below. Note: Flash plug-in required. Can’t see the image? Download the latest version here.
• Frame 1: Notice Jones’s strong left-hand grip; if he were wearing a watch, you’d almost see the time. His right hand, however, parallels the clubface, keeping it square throughout the swing.
• Frame 2: Jones has maintained the triangle created by his arms at address, and his head has swiveled to the right to allow a full shoulder turn. The clubhead is in perfect “toe up” position.
• Frame 3: Nearing the top of the backswing, Jones has made a level shoulder turn and his left side has moved well behind the ball. His shoulders have wound up his hips.
• Frame 4: The transition: The left knee and hip move toward the target, and the left shoulder rotates back toward its starting position. A passive right leg proves that the left side does all the pulling.
• Frame 5: Here the right elbow has dropped to the right side — into the so-called “power slot.” Notice the clubhead is once again toe-up, rotating back to square in time for impact.
• Frame 6: The arm triangle is still intact, as the right side chases down the line. The body supports the swinging of the club through impact, the shaft pointing at the middle of the chest.
• Frame 7: Through impact, Jones has remained centered, his head maintaining its position. His left side is still braced, left hip over left knee, and his right side continues to chase hard.
• Frame 8: At the finish, Jones is balanced over his left foot and standing tall. His right shoulder is closer to the target than anything else, indicating a full release of the right side.
Taken in July 1940, these images, like Jones himself, were way ahead of their time. After seeing his swing on a 1930 documentary film, Jones became intrigued with the prospect of using high-speed photography as a teaching tool. He experimented with “ultra-speed” images in his work with film studio Warner Brothers and clubmaker A.G. Spalding Brothers before taking his ideas to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1940. It was there that these images were captured, amazingly, on one piece of film by intermittent flashes of light.
Shot at more than 50,000 frames per second, these photographs truly were the first of their kind in the sport. It’s my privilege to take you through them and peek back at one of the most graceful golf swings the game has ever seen.
Editor’s note: The photographs appear in the book Bobby Jones’ Golf Tips — Secrets of the Master by Sidney L. Matthew ($29.95; Sleeping Bear Press). Order your copy online.