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The Sound of Rhythm and Resonance in the Golf Swing

Sonic Golf’s System-1 turns the golf club into a musical instrument that generates orchestrated sound with a pitch and volume proportional to the speed at which the club is moving. Being able to listen to the swing has yielded some very interesting insights into the golf swing. This article addresses issues of tempo and rhythm.

While the swing of every golfer is unique, there are general trends which can be identified. The golf swings of professional golfers and very accomplished amateur golfers have a rhythm which is distinct from that of higher handicap golfers. The swing of the accomplished golfer generates appreciable sound at the beginning of the swing (i.e. the club quickly gets up to speed), becomes very quiet at the top of the swing (i.e. at the transition from backswing to downswing), and then builds speed in a crescendo of sound which peaks at impact. In contrast, the higher handicap golfer generally has a swing which is very quiet at the beginning of the swing (i.e. they initiate the backswing slowly and deliberately). Their swing starts to generate significant sound as the club approaches the top of the swing and through the entire transition. Finally, they tend to lose control of the club as it approaches impact, often generating the most sound (i.e. maximum speed) long before the club gets back to the golf ball.

Another interesting contrast between the swing of the accomplished golfer and the higher handicap golfer is in the symmetry of the backswing and downswing. The swing sound of an accomplished golfer is much more symmetric than might be imagined in the sense that the backswing and downswing sound not so different. This is in contrast to the swing of the higher handicap golfer, which often sounds very asymmetric; the backswing being very slow and the downswing abruptly quick.

These observations are summarized as follows: the accomplished golf swing has a rhythm which can be described as fast – slow – fast, corresponding to the beginning of the swing (fast), the transition (slow), and impact (fast). The higher handicap swing has a rhythm which is slow – fast – random.

It is no accident that the accomplished golfer has the rhythm described above. This swing sounds not so different from that of a pendulum when swung back and forth. The accomplished golfer has tapped into the principle of using his body resonantly and hence maximizing efficiency. One can generate the sound that is created by a resonantly swinging pendulum using a golf club with the Sonic Golf insert. Pinch the top of the grip between your thumb and forefinger and let the club hang freely. A gently nudge will set it swinging back and forth like the pendulum of a grandfather clock. The resulting motion generates the most sound at the bottom of the swing, where the club moves fastest. At the extremes of motion, the club stops moving momentarily with the change of direction and in that moment the sound gracefully becomes quiet. Additionally, the sound generated by this pendulum motion is symmetric in the sense that the swing sounds the same going forward and backward.

This particular tempo allows the most amount of motion for the least amount of effort. You are maximizing the efficiency of the system. This is a profoundly important idea and is at the heart of what it means for a pendulum to be driven resonantly.

The tempo at which the pendulum moves when swung in this fashion, i.e. resonantly, is defined by the mechanical properties of the pendulum, not by the person driving the pendulum. It is the same tempo for a big swing and for a little swing. It will be the same tempo today, tomorrow, in a week, in a month, or a year from now. These properties are why the grandfather clock keeps time.

Non-resonant motion is very different. One can experience this by forcing the pendulum to move at a much slower pace. If you do this with a golf club as described above you will notice that you require more force than what can be generated with only two fingers. It will require you to hold the club with your entire hand. Additionally, the tempo will be defined entirely by the person who is moving the club and will not be as reproducible as when it is driven resonantly.

The tempo and rhythm of the golf swing of the accomplished golfer is that of a resonantly driven pendulum. In actuality, the pendulum of the golf swing is not a simple pendulum, as in the case of a grandfather clock; rather it is a complex pendulum comprising the club, the arms, the shoulders, the torso, etc. However, one finds the resonance of the golf swing in exactly the same way one finds the resonance of a simple pendulum, by swinging back and forth and back and forth until you find that cadence at which the most amount of motion is obtained for the least amount of effort. For most golfers, it will result in a tempo which is surprisingly quick. The resulting motion generates maximum sound at the bottom of the swing and has a moment of quiet tranquility at the change of direction. The resulting swing sounds very symmetric, as the backswing and downswing are equivalent motions.

We recommend that all golfers start using Sonic Golf by simply swinging the club back and forth several times in a smooth symmetric manner until they have found resonance, that cadence where the club feels easy to swing and the motion is easy to continue. In this simple process your body associates the feeling of resonance with the sound generated at resonance. After swinging back and forth several times at resonance, address the golf ball and try to create a swing with the same tempo and rhythm. This requires the golfer to swing the club back energetically at the beginning of the backswing. The resulting motion will yield a full sound as the club swings back from the ball to initiate the backswing, quiet in the transition from backswing to downswing, and a graceful crescendo of sound in the downswing that peaks at impact. The entire swing will have a sense of balance in that the backswing and downswing will not sound so different. It will have tempo and rhythm that sound just like the resonantly driven pendulum.

Accomplished golfers have learned to swing the club in this resonant manner for good reason. Their golf swing achieves consistency and reproducibility from the same physical principles that are the foundation of clocks.

Bob Grober

Founder, Sonic Golf, Inc.