Origin of the Modern Golf Swing “Restricted Hips?”

gatetogolfBT sent me this great find yesterday, and it left me wondering.  The link he sent me was to a book the he found listed on GoogleBooks.

While I won’t buy the book by James Douglas Edgar, a British golfer and writer (1884-1921) nor recommend it (I don’t have a problem with my hips, so I’m not curious), I wonder if this book had anything to do with the development of the modern style “restricted hip” golf swing.

The book’s title is “The Gate To Golf,” and here is the description of it (bolding is my addition) that made BT send me the link:

The Gate to Golf was based on his discoveries made in England. Edgar had an ailing hip which he could not turn freely.

Through a series of experiments, he found that a restricted hip turn still allowed a repeatable swing with excellent power and control.

This book proved to have significant impact on golf instruction, right up to the present time.

First, so it’s a possibility.

Second, doesn’t that last sentence make you want to weep with despair?

Modern (and perfectly physically-capable) swingers are being taught something that was created to help a disabled person swing and play?

Does anyone not want to join me in pulling whatever’s left of my hair out?

This illustrates the robotic and unthinking way the general golf student has accepted anything presented to them with regards to the golf swing, to the point (if it’s true) of trying the swing of a man who didn’t have full physical capabilities when he wrote the book.

Think about it and imagine, if this book influenced the modern golf swing, that you tried this in another sport:

Edgar had an ailing hip (with) which he could not pitch freely.

Through a series of experiments, he found that a restricted hip turn still allowed a repeatable throw with excellent power and control.

OK, so let’s imagine that this experiment had been with the baseball pitch.

And you’ll have to remember that Edgar’s claim of “excellent power and control” is certainly open to interpretation – perhaps “excellent power and control for a person with a physical ailment and who couldn’t swing naturally?”

Certainly, I would bet you dollars to donuts, it wasn’t “excellent power and control compared to a physically-fit person swinging freely with full hip motion.”

Because there is no way on this earth that (except in golf) anyone would take a motion designed or built for a person with a major physical limitation and use it themselves while they were perfectly physically-capable.

Because that would be insane.

Or, to put it another way, because Terry Fox was one of my childhood heroes, no one is teaching Olympic sprinters or marathoners how to run like Terry Fox…

The man who wrote this book, even if he did win the 1914 French Open, was physically unwell, and lived to the ripe old age of 37.

Edgar’s book is about finding a way to still play golf and swing with a bad hip (among other physical ailments that he had, I’m sure), not about how to swing athletically or powerfully.

Can no one see this point?

And that theory (the notion that you can swing equally well, powerfully and accurately with restricted hips as with unrestricted hips) is insane.




6 thoughts on “Origin of the Modern Golf Swing “Restricted Hips?”

  1. Laser

    “the notion that you can swing equally well, powerfully and accurately with restricted hips”

    –I’m guess that it came from “analyzing” photographs or video of good golfers. However, face-on and down-the-line offer no depth perception–they’re 2-dimensional. Also, hips are definitely connected to legs and torso, so any restriction of hips involves restricting torso and legs.

    So, my conclusion is that it’s all due to bad visual perception.

    Here’s Hogan, from a non-2-dimensional view. Restricted hips?

  2. zoots15

    Not sure of the origin of the quotes in your post ,DJ ( Another guru trying to push a certain agenda, perhaps?)

    Edgar’s book is about focusing on swinging thru a “gate” which he fashions out of what appears to be an old putter head and a block of wood. Might be one of the first swing aids invented!
    This focuses the golfer to swing on the correct path (inside to out) through the ball, instead of mechanical swing thought.

    The quote stating that he advocated restricting the hip turn couldn’t be further from the truth (gotta love the internet). In fact he states quite the opposite in the book:

    “In his backward swing he should get the feeling of throwing the club around the right hip; also he should not be afraid of letting his body go well around also.”

    What not to do:

    “Many players hold themselves in a very cramped position, on the backward swing, the idea probably being that this adds steadiness to their game.”

    Sounds more like MCS to me.

    He also shares the record for largest margin of victory on the PGA tour of 16 strokes at the 1919 Canadian Open (cool!) where he bested Bobby Jones and Jim Barnes ( 4 majors/ 21 PGA wins)

    Comments from his peers from Golf.com

    In the small but vibrant universe of golf, J. Douglas Edgar was generally acknowledged as one of the finest players in the game, mentioned as a favorite in almost every tournament he entered. Harry Vardon, the greatest golfer in the world at the turn of the 20th century and the only man in history to win six British Opens, said of Edgar, “This is a man who will one day be the greatest of us all.” Tommy Armour, winner of the British Open, U.S. Open and PGA Championship, said, “He was undoubtedly the greatest of them all, and taught me the most.”

    Pics in his book clearly show he does not restrict the hips
    PDF of book for those interested.


    1. D Watts Post author

      Awesome, thanks for the clarifying info, zoots.

      And for the link to the pdf, I’ll be checking it out when I have a few minutes!

  3. van


    Doesn’t Hogan look like he swinging into the MPS”B rearside, with the swinging gate action of the front side?

    1. D Watts Post author

      Van, he certainly does.

      But remember, the MPS B was the last model I built before making the Ben Hogan Project video, so the fact that I was able to figure out Hogan’s pivot move so quickly… was due to the pivot action of the MPS model!

      Great comment.

      And that picture of Hogan with his hips turned all the way to the right – makes a fool out of anyone who tries to say that Hogan had restricted hip action at any time in his career.

      Because, as proven in the Ben Hogan Project – he did not, ever.

Comments are closed.