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The Golf Delusion: Why 9 Out of 10 Golfers Make the Same Mistakes

The Golf Delusion: Why 9 Out of 10 Golfers Make the Same Mistakes

by Steve Gould, D. J. Wilkinson, Hugh Grant (Introduction)

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The model swing taught at the exclusive golf school whose pupils include Bryan Ferry, Diana Rigg, Sean Connery, Michael Flatley, and Geri Halliwell, is broken down and illustrated for all to learn
Since its conception in 1951, the Knightsbridge Golf School has taught tens of thousands of golfers of all ages and abilities, from the


The model swing taught at the exclusive golf school whose pupils include Bryan Ferry, Diana Rigg, Sean Connery, Michael Flatley, and Geri Halliwell, is broken down and illustrated for all to learn
Since its conception in 1951, the Knightsbridge Golf School has taught tens of thousands of golfers of all ages and abilities, from the wonderfully talented to the woefully inept. But amazingly, despite a wealth of instructional material and access to the latest teaching technology, golfers of today are no better than they were when the school first opened its doors almost 60 years ago. They still cling hopelessly to the delusion that the next golden tip or instant fix will suddenly and magically transform them from rabbit to Tiger. This guide explains that sadly no such tip exists, and outlines a proven, time-tested swing model that guarantees a program for immediate and sustained improvement. The history of the school is also celebrated, with such stories as Sean Connery learning from Leslie King the skills he needed for his famous golf match in Goldfinger, and Telly Savalas perfecting his golf swing in front of a mirror in Harrods, and such developments as using video to show golfers their own swing and how it can be improved.

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"[Golf Delusion] is absolutely gorgeous to hold and to read . . . as a gift, it will definitely be appreciated." —The San Francisco Book Review/The Sacramento Book Review

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Elliott & Thompson
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
7.60(w) x 9.80(h) x 0.90(d)

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The Golf Delusion

Why 9 out of 10 Golfers Make the Same Mistakes

By Steve Gould, D. J. Wilkinson

Elliott and Thompson Limited

Copyright © 2009 Steve Gould and D.J. Wilkinson
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-904027-73-7


Leslie King, the Knightsbridge Golf School and the Golf Delusion

Knightsbridge is one of the most prestigious locations in Europe. It is home to the rich and the famous, the socialites and the aristocrats and – surprisingly enough – to one of the most glamorous and successful golf schools in the world.

Located a mere Tiger drive away from Harrods and a short chip from the Harvey Nichols handbag display, a converted squash court beneath a Georgian façade may be the last place you would expect to see a golf lesson taking place. Yet it is our belief that, since its conception in 1951, more lessons have been given at the Knightsbridge Golf School than anywhere else on earth.

The School was founded by Leslie King, one of the first instructors to develop a system of teaching the golf swing. He never claimed to have invented a swing, but to have watched it and categorised it, pulling it apart to enable him to help his pupils build a swing that was as near perfect as possible. He had devised his swing model from watching the great players of his day, building their swing fundamentals into a foolproof technique that could be learnt by all.

During the 1970s and 80s Mr King passed his knowledge down to us, and over the past twenty years we have developed his original technique into a modelled swing that can be taught to anyone, from the wonderfully talented to the woefully inept.

In the time we have been at the School, we have taught tens of thousands of golfers. Sadly, the swings that we see today are no better than those we saw when we first started teaching in the 1970s. How can this be, in an age where golf instruction is such a massive industry?

Golfers of all levels have greater access to more instructional information than ever before. Books, magazines, DVDs, online tuition, computer analysis and more bombard the desperate golfer in his search to find the key to this enthralling, if frustrating, game. Yet all this information barely makes a difference. We see the results every day of our working lives and experience has taught us overwhelmingly that almost every golfer naïvely believes that the next golden tip or magic clue will elevate them to a higher level.

Let's face it, it's what everyone hopes for, one quick fix and everything will suddenly fall into place. Unfortunately it's not as easy as that. The majority of golfers fail to realise that golf must be learnt in the same way that one would learn to speak a foreign language, play a musical instrument or fly an aeroplane. The reason for this is that it is possible for anyone to hit a good golf shot purely by accident. Take a bucket of balls, swing the club back and through and even the most un-coordinated would make good contact with a few balls, watching them fly long and straight. This gives the golfer the impression that a few tips here and there will smooth out the rough edges and they will soon be playing good consistent golf, forgetting the fact that maybe only five or six shots from a bucket of balls have been purely struck. Learning a good golf swing is no different to learning anything of value. It must be learnt under controlled circumstances, slowly, one step at a time and in great detail.

Most golfers don't think this way because of the accidental good shot. For example, you would not be capable of conversing in fluent Cantonese one minute and be unable to utter a single word seconds later; play a musical solo, then moments later not hit a single note; fly the Atlantic, then lack the ability to get the aircraft airborne again. However, this is very much the case in golf. A booming accurate drive can be followed by a huge shank into the woods, a fluff, a top or even an air shot, and often is!

The purpose of this book is to teach you a structured modelled swing; to teach you where to be at each and every stage of your swing and to blend the swing's structure into one beautiful, free-flowing movement. It offers the only guaranteed solution to the 'trial and error' golf played by 90% of golfers. Building swings this way has been our life's work, and if you study this book in great detail we are convinced that it can do the same for you. Every word, every sentence and lesson has been written for a reason, and nothing should be overlooked. It is important to remember that these teachings are not theoretical. They have been proven in well over half a million teaching sessions and will build a sound, solid swing that will last for life.


Leslie King 1961

What is the point of curing a slice by planting the germ of a hook which erupts within the next few days? The wretched golfer, overjoyed at losing his slice, is soon in despair again as he struggles on the left hand side of the course instead of the right.

Solving one problem by creating another simply adds to the confusion and depresses his morale. It is negative teaching which can never lead to lasting progress.

My method of instruction is not built upon a vague series of hit and miss experiences, one or other of which may give temporary tidiness to a pupil's game. My aim is a positive one – to build a sound and lasting technique in which all the fundamentals are fitted together into one cohesive swing unit.

I am not prepared to waste time on gimmicks or smart tricks and I will admit at once that I know of no short cuts to success at this fascinating game. It demands hard work and practice before one even begins to master the precise art of delivering the centre of the club face firmly and squarely into the back of the ball and on through into the finish.

There is positively no secret tip which can turn a mediocre player into a good one overnight. Yet there are players struggling vaguely along, pathetically searching for the elixir of a new golfing life in the upper strata of the game.

I have in mind a pupil who came into my school for the first and only time. He really had no swing worth the description. He moved the clubhead sharply back and forwards in a series of wristy jerks.

I set him to work on the first and elementary stage which leads in due course to the shaping of a serviceable swing. I had quickly seen that this player lacked the ability to become good at the game but I could have worked a definite improvement in him had he been prepared to listen to my first instruction.

However, I never saw that pupil again and this is why. Meeting the person who had introduced him to me, he told me that his friend had said that I had treated him as a beginner!

I was genuinely sorry to lose him as a pupil, notwithstanding that I always have more work than I can fit in. My secretary is regularly working on my appointments book for weeks ahead and claims a constant headache as a result. But I could have given him a sound foundation and helped to build a modest but nonetheless rewarding game.

This player, however, quite obviously had a sadly inflated assessment of his own ability and potential. With this attitude of mind he came to me expecting to impress with what he already knew, requiring me to provide the simple tip which would shoot him straightaway into the single-figure handicap class.

He flattered not only himself but me as well. I would work no sudden miracle, I had to treat him as a beginner but he was desperate to run before he could walk.

In sharp contrast is the case of Ian Caldwell, 1961 English Amateur Champion, who came to me at the beginning of 1960 in an unhappy frame of mind about his game.

I decided that his swing needed reshaping on a major scale and I set to work on him in exactly the same way as I had done with the pupil I have just referred to.

Caldwell, be it noted, was already a good and experienced player with a fine international record behind him. Yet, in a sense, he was more humble than the other man, the raw novice.

He did not expect a golden tip which would solve his problems overnight, and he was not worried when I warned him that what I proposed to do would take some time but would bring about some marked degree of improvement within a few months.

So it proved – four months later he reached the semi-final of the English Amateur Championship.

We kept working on his swing and the following year he won the English Title. Even then I had not completed my task; I was certain that he could get even better – yet for all his God-given golfing gifts, he had his own complex problems of approach to master, and the measure of his ultimate progress must depend on the extent to which he overcomes these problems.

However, the headway he made under me following a long period of uncertainty was most revealing. He had put his swing into my hands and shown a readiness to work over a period. While the player at the other end of the scale had expected me to produce a gimmick, which would turn him into a golfer overnight, this sort of miracle simply cannot be worked.

Even a noted tournament player like South African Harold Henning was prepared to accept my blunt assessment of his swing. At the suggestion of a friend he came to my school a few years ago and I told him quite frankly that he had a terrible loop in his backswing.

He took my advice and when I next saw him at Royal Birkdale in the 1961 Open Championship, I noted at once that he had smoothed out his backswing and so given himself a very fine clubline into the ball.

Henning remembered how I had advised him and thanked me for what I had told him two or three years earlier when we had last met.

My model offers no trick transition from rabbit to first-class golfer. I gradually shape a sound smooth swing which once acquired will stand up under pressure. Such is my objective with every pupil who comes to me. I set out to implant in his mind a picture of the shape he needs to acquire, taking him along, stage by stage, until he can sense the shape developing.

Let it be understood that I teach a definite method based on years of experience and proven principles. Various people have their own particular problems arising from characteristics of bone structure and general build. I note these and prescribe accordingly.

But my fundamentals apply in the main to anyone capable of swinging a club through an arc.

The shaping of the swing is all important; once you have it keep it. Don't bend it out of shape by tinkering. This is where many a better-than-average performer leads himself still further off the rails when his game goes temporarily sour on him.

Leslie King 1961

This passage was written by Leslie King nearly fifty years ago. It is as relevant to the amateur golfer today as it was then.


Hands of God

Although the general basics of the swing are now well understood by most golfers, the swing's crucial hand line is the least understood and most frequently badly performed movements in the golf swing. It is the main reason why 90% of golfers will never get any better.

In an ideal swing, the hands, arms, body, feet and legs should be moving in a series of chain reactions that shadow each other. No section of the swing should be addressed without considering what goes before or after, nor the section being worked on.

In addition, one part of the body should not be thought about without considering what is happening to the body's other parts. Without question, the swing must always be looked at as a whole.

However, if there is one thing that can be said to be the most important thing in the golf swing, it is the directions that the hands and wrists swing the club, initially through the backswing and subsequently throughout the downswing into the ball and into the follow through. It is this hand and wrist action that most separates the good player from the bad.

The naturally gifted golfer is blessed with hands that control the path of the swing and the clubhead's delivery into the ball and beyond into the finish. It is what he does instinctively. The gifted player's swing shape may vary from the ideal, but he will always maintain control of the clubhead through the essential impact area.

This is why you sometimes see swings that may look a little unorthodox but produce outstanding results and – conversely – you also see swings that may look graceful and flowing yet offer very little. These players may have good fundamentals, but their hands lack the ability to deliver the club squarely, consistently and powerfully into the back of the ball.

The swing of the perennial struggler lacks either of these attributes. They have poor fundamentals and lack any semblance of a clean hand line. These poor souls play year in, year out with the same wretched inconsistency, hoping that the next tip from the top or 'magic cure' will open the gates to a golfing paradise. Sadly, no such cure exists.

The only way an average player can effect a permanent change in their swing is by learning a structured modelled swing that emulates the hand line of the naturally good golfer – those with the God-given talent to deliver the clubhead squarely, powerfully and consistently into the back of the ball.


Some notes on the grip

It is quite rare for the good player to struggle with his grip. Most low handicap golfers have played for years and have established and stabilised their grips very early on.

There are, however, exceptions. One very famous single-figure handicap pupil of ours has an extremely awkward-looking interlocking grip.

If he had the patience and correct mental attitude to change his clumsy ham-fisted grip, great progress to his swing could be made. Unfortunately, he is such a box of tricks that changing his grip would probably cause a complete mental breakdown as he would complicate the process to such a degree that it would not be worth the effort. So, reluctantly, we have to work around his particular grip problem.

The mid-handicapper is fortunate in that he is normally in possession of a serviceable grip that presents no major problems and only slight adjustments are required to bring it up to the School's standard.

The beginner, or struggler, usually possesses a grip that is too weak with the left hand and too strong with the right. In simple terms this means that the left hand is too far to the left of the shaft and the right hand is too far to the right. In both cases this forces the club into the palms of either hand instead of the fingers.

A good way to check your grip is to face on to a mirror with your favourite instruction book or picture of a top-line pro in front of you. Take your grip and address and see how your grip's image compares to that of the ideal.

If you are a beginner or struggler, chances are that you will need to turn your left hand slightly to the right and your right hand slightly to your left. This may indeed feel very strange but this only highlights the fact that in golf the position that you think you are in is actually very different to the position you are actually in!

One aspect of the grip which cannot be seen is the grip's pressure. In our experience we rarely, if ever, see a player who holds the club too lightly but we see plenty who hold it too tightly. Holding the club too tightly makes a correct hand movement very, very difficult to master. The wrists have very little chance of hinging correctly in the backswing and it severely affects the chances of releasing the clubhead into the back of the ball. If you hit the ball straight out to the right and have difficulty performing the backswing hand line correctly, there is a fair chance that you could be gripping the club too tightly.

So how hard should the club be held?

Analogies such as holding the club as if you were 'holding a bird as you take it out of its cage' or 'holding a tube of toothpaste' have much to offer; Leslie King described a feeling of gentle firmness. And we think that this quaint, old-fashioned phase is as good a description as any.


Excerpted from The Golf Delusion by Steve Gould, D. J. Wilkinson. Copyright © 2009 Steve Gould and D.J. Wilkinson. Excerpted by permission of Elliott and Thompson Limited.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Steve Gould and D. J. Wilkinson have more than 70 years teaching experience between them. They both joined the Knightsbridge Golf School in the 1970s and studied under the legendary teacher and school founder Leslie King, a pioneer of golf swing instruction. In 1989 Mr. King handed the school down to them, and over the past 20 years they have polished his original teachings into a beautifully simple and effective swing model that can be learned by anyone, regardless of age or ability.

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