Many of today’s celebrity golf instructors brag about having met or given advice to Mr. Jack Nicklaus, Mr. Tom Watson, or even Mr. Tiger Woods. They speak about their great golf swings and why they function as they do. They get a lot of press when speaking about their trade. Some have gone so far as to write books about Mr. Ben Hogan – as if they actually knew him or had a personal relationship with him. These instructors want you to know their opinion of why he was great.
Now on the flip side, one celebrity instructor has taken upon himself to not only write a book about the great Mr. Ben Hogan but to include in his book a portion where he condescendingly criticizes Homer Kelley.
“We are not machines McLean states and can’t be simply programmed to make great golf swings every time.” Although, McLean thinks of himself as intellectual he is unaware that Cognitive Psychologist analogize the human brain as “wetwear” instead of hardware or software giving credit that the brain is flexible and programmable. McLean states later in the same chapter that he believes in “breaking the swing down into its building blocks which are manageable for my students.” Ironically, this is similar to Mr. Kelley’s Three Zones: Body, Arms and Hands in Chapter 9.
Why Jim McLean felt strongly to not only bash Mr. Kelley but also to criticism him for reading about Ben Hogan and Sam Snead who at the time Mr. Kelley was writing about golf were at the top of their games? There is a double standard McLean can publish a book about Ben Hogan to increase his cash flow; but Mr. Kelley was criticized for simply reading about Mr. Hogan and actually chastised for not having “seen him hit balls”.
Mr. Kelley was curious about golf and golfers and so having a scientific mind he explored all books at this disposal during the 40’s, 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. In his library he had books authored by Ben Hogan and Sam Snead along with many others, they were considered highly proficient in their skill levels and therefore sought after as experts in their fields. No wonder Mr. Kelley read their books.
No one has chastised Jim McLean for reading The Golfing Machine (TGM) or going to see Mr. Kelley. McLean no doubt has taken a few concepts from TGM to add to his repertoire of teaching information including his well know plane cone; which he draws a line from the hosel through the students waist and another from the hosel just above the students shoulder. These two lines are similar to Mr. Kelley’s Elbow Plane (10-6-A) and the Squared Shoulder Plane 10-6-C. He would not want to burden his reader by referencing Mr. Kelley’s book so he simply left it out.
McLean in his book takes a shot at Mr. Kelley’s golf equipment calling them “old golf irons and beat-up woods;” adding that “it was a strange collection of clubs in a tattered old bag.” These clubs are currently right behind me as I write this let me tell you exactly what he owned: Wilson Haig Ultra Power irons (2 – Pitching Wedge with True Temper Pro-Fit stiff with Walter Hagen’s name on them). The woods are First Flight persimmon (1, 3 and 4 with Shot Master stiff shafts by True Temper). I am looking at his all leather bag which is rectangular and has a pull cart attached to it. He also owned a full complement of putters one of which was given to him by Don Shaw, GSED his best friend and for whom caddied 60 rounds. These clubs may seem odd to McLean who may have changed club as often as he changed his socks; as a player was given equipment for free by major manufacturers; but Mr. Kelley’s passion was for how to swing the club properly, because when he was introduced to golf little was known about the geometry of golf.
Thanks to Mr. Kelley who paved the way for people like McLean to earn millions of dollars using his information and allowed McLean and others to visit ask questions and kept their payment to a minimum if he charged at all. I for one was on the receiving end of Mr. Kelley’s generosity when it came to sharing his time. I am and will always be forever grateful to him for his time and the book which changed the lives of teaching professionals everywhere. My father taught me to give credit where credit is due, and all the credit for my teaching acumen goes to Mr. Kelley and his irreplaceable work – The Golfing Machine.