Golf’s Holy War, by Brett Cyrgalis

Ivan Morris

Bryson DeChambeau watched by Phil Mickelson (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Ivan Morris

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Manifested by the emergence of Bryson DeChambeau and his 430-yards+ drives that render every par-4 obsolete, a tsunami of science has swamped the game of golf with increasing force in recent times.

In an highly entertaining and superbly-researched book, Golf’s Holy War (published in June 2020), Brett Cyrgalis, a veteran New York sportswriter, has scored a bullseye in the manner he describes the golfing community splintering irreconcilably into two combative factions: old-school teachers and players who believe in feel, artistry, and imagination, and the technically-minded who want to remake the game around scientific data and make ‘piles of money’ out of it.

Author Cyrgalis delves deeply into two books published roughly 50-years ago and within three years of each other as the battleground for an all-out war for the soul of the game. He identifies the largely-ignored, at the time of its publication, The Golf Machine published in 1969, written by a madman engineering genius, Homer Kelley, as the starting point for golf’s scientific revolution. For all of its mind-boggling and complicated detail, Kelley’s mantra: “Feel comes from Mechanics,” is a far easier concept to grasp than the Shivas Irons theory of true gravity offered in Michael Murphy’s eccentric and widely-revered best-seller, Golf in the Kingdom (1972).

Cyrgalis (a 1-handicapper) presents the arguments even-handedly and without taking up an outright position due, no doubt, to him experiencing first-hand the random outcomes of a small round ball rolling over uneven countryside, littered with hazards. Of course, it also remains true that the golf swing is an athletic movement that depends on how the body feels. If the feelings are ‘off’ – so will one’s golf game be below par in the medical sense, irrespective of how scientifically-measured your equipment is.

The combination of feel and technicality has always been present in the game of golf. No great golfer has ever thought of himself as a technician but, at the same time, the same player would have had a deep understanding of his own technique. While human activity cannot be fully understood through data alone, it would be foolhardy to shun all advances in technology.

Highly recommended and well worth reading – Ivan Morris.

Golf’s Holy War

Product details

Hardcover: 272 pages

Publisher: Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster (11 Jun. 2020)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1476707596

ISBN-13: 978-1476707594

Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.3 x 22.9 cm







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