Global Edition

PGA accepts Cochran’s 30 year-old theory

9.15am 17th July 2001 - Management Topics

New technology has finally resolved the golfing world’s longest-running debate. The angle of the blade at impact has been proven to be more influential than the club’s swing path, in determining the initial direction of the ball. While this will not fundamentally change the way golf is taught it does provide a more scientific explanation of why the ball behaves as it does in flight.

The Professional Golfers’ Association, which is now fully supporting the new interpretation, is incorporating the subsequent changes to its training manual.

PGA chief executive Sandy Jones, who welcomed the latest findings, stresses that the association regularly reviews and revises all elements of its training policies.

“We have always recognised the importance of implementing a continual review to every aspect of the game. The association is constantly monitoring the latest thinking that could have an impact on golf; whether it be from sports scientists, the medical profession, equipment manufacturers or individual players.”

“The theory and practice of training is an area that changes almost daily, and we are currently talking to a company specialising in computer software and virtual reality systems to see if we can further assist PGA pros to help players analyse and improve their games,” he added.

For more than 30 years, alternative interpretations have existed to explain what determined a ball’s flight. Decades of observation and instinct suggested that the crucial element was the direction of the swing. With camera technology still in its infancy, it was difficult to confirm such an interpretation with technical data.

In 1968 Dr Alasdair Cochran, a golf-playing physics lecturer, put forward a different interpretation, based on mathematical calculations and formulae and with supporting empirical data. In his treatise, ‘Search for the Perfect Swing’, Dr Cochran, who would later become an advisor to the R&A, stated that the angle of the blade was more influential than the direction taken by the club.

Over the years, the PGA’s panel of experts reviewed both interpretations regularly, along with all other aspects of the association’s training curriculum. Some felt Dr Cochran’s theory was correct, others were unconvinced but a majority agreed the PGA should retain the traditional method of teaching golf to trainees, with the understanding that they would be able to develop their own understanding of different theories, after gaining sufficient experience and expertise to qualify.

At the most recent review of the swing manual, however, it was agreed by the panel of experts that there was now sufficient evidence for the PGA to support the theory. On the panel were Alasdair Barr, Jim Christine, John Jacobs OBE, Maureen Madill, Denis Pugh and Keith Williams.

“In these days, when the ethics of previous generations often appear to have been forgotten, it is much appreciated that PGA members are still willing to continue to give their time freely to assist the development of our educational curriculum,” concluded Sandy Jones.

PGA Tel: 01675-470333

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