Ernest Jones was an English professional golfer renowned for his accomplishments in teaching several famous pro and amateur golfers. His pupils included Virginia Van Wie, who won three consecutive U.S. Women’s Amateurs between 1932 and 1934, Glenna Collett Vare, Lawson Little, Betty Hicks, and Horton Smith, who won the 1st August National Invitation Tournament in 1934.
In 1916, as a soldier in World War I, Jones lost his right leg just below the knee as a result of an exploding grenade. Despite being sent back to England to recuperate, Jones was afraid his injury would mark the end of his career as a pro golfer. Four months later, while playing on crutches, Jones shot an 83 at Royal Norwich. He followed that round with a 72 on a longer and more challenging course shortly thereafter. Those rounds changed Jones’ concept of golf and how it should be taught.
Jones wondered how he could still score so well with only one leg, the absence of which radically affected how his body could swing the golf club. At the time, the vast majority of golf instruction described all body parts as being essential, but Jones and others demonstrated that a golfer’s brain would devise compensating strategies for missing limbs to produce good golf shots.
Jones came to believe that the key to hitting good shots wasn’t the correct movement of certain body parts but the successful movement of the golf club itself. Jones had unknowingly stumbled upon the then little-understood fact that the brain only needs to experience a person’s desire to perform a task.
The brain then devises the means to create the muscular action needed to achieve the task while the individual is only aware of what they want to accomplish. The brain’s task of deciding how it will perform the task is completely unconscious. This sent Jones on a quest to find the easiest way to teach the movement of the golf club to others.
Jones’ simple concept is summarized in Swing the Clubhead. Smith, then the incoming president of the PGA of America, dismissed Jones’ system as “too simple.”