If you have clicked on this post, you are either in great pain from attempting to read Homer Kelley’s book, or you are about to be in great pain from reading it. If you have been in the golfing industry/world for long enough, surely you have stumbled across the title “The Golfing Machine.” Several instructors across the globe have their GSEB or GSED certifications, tour players have mentioned it, and nearly every instructor (regardless of what they claim) teach at least some of the golfing machine concepts to their students.
The ambiguity associated with this book is widespread, and in order to understand the foreign dialect of English that Homer Kelley writes in, you will find yourself digging deep into internet forums, watching hundreds of YouTube videos, and most likely beating your head against a wall in agony.
In this post, I intend to clear some of the misunderstandings related to The Golfing Machine, answer some common questions, and provide additional resources to those who would like to take their education further by reading this beast on their own! By no means will this post explain the concepts within the Golfing Machine (I have partially done this in my instructional series), but will provide you with a basic understanding, and method for tackling this book on your own.
If all goes as planned, you successfully make it through The Golfing Machine, and review it several times, you should be able to understand every single word of the following (humorous) video:
Although the above video sounds absolutely ridiculous, the concepts that J.C. briefly mentions are unbelievably useful in building an effective and repeatable golf swing. I strongly recommend to those looking for serious improvement to struggle through this masterpiece of golfing wisdom. After reading the book 3 times, watching several related videos on YouTube, and implementing the concepts into my own game, I can finally understand this satirical video! I hope the same for you.
Before getting into the contents of the book, I would like to mention that The Golfing Machine (TGM for short) is a systematic way of understanding the golf swing. Homer Kelley was a smart man, and his work illustrates this. In the text, he specifically mentions that he aims not to repeat information, and therefore cross-references abundantly throughout the book. Below is just a sample page which shows just how complicated the reading is, and how many cross-references to other parts of the book you will be dealing with while reading it:
While reading, you will literally feel as if you are running in an endless circle with blisters growing on your feet the longer you run. It is not for the faint-hearted, but for the SERIOUS GOLFER.
To start, let’s get an overview of the structure that Homer Kelley laid out to explain the concepts in The Golfing Machine.
Structure of The Golfing Machine
I can’t lie, J.C. Anderson explained TGM quite well in his satirical video earlier in this post, but I will do my best to provide additional insight. Essentially, Homer Kelley believed that each “human shaped golfer” represents a machine which can perform many movements, and can be programmed to repeat these movements over and over again with enough practice. He also believed that categorizing each specific moment of the golf swing was important for a golfer, because it allowed the golfer to isolate the problem areas, and work on each area independently. Eventually, the golfer can integrate each part of his/her golf swing into a comprehensive motion that (ideally) looks something like this (I’m a big fan of Jason Day’s swing if you couldn’t tell):
When trying to understand this framework for understanding the golf swing, I think it is useful to identify which chapters serve which purpose.
For starters, Homer said that EVERY golf swing is comprised of 24 components. These include things like the grip, the grip type, the stance, alignments, down-swing types, etc. etc. No matter what golfer you look at, they will ALL have some variation of these 24 components.
Now, obviously, every golfer has a different looking swing, so how can every golfer be the same??
Well, that is where chapter 10 comes in. In Chapter 10, Homer introduces all the individual variations that are possible for EACH of the 24 components. This explains how every PGA Tour golf swing looks different, yet all perform so well. There is no correct combination of components. They are simply options.
RECAP: So far, we understand that each golfer acts a programmable machine which has 24 basic components to his/her golf swing, no matter how good/bad it is. When looking at each different golf swing, we can analyze EACH of these 24 components separately (ideally through video analysis), and identify what types of variations (chapter 10) they have.
Now, we can add another layer to this beautiful mess, and say that although each golfer has a different looking swing, there are only TWO categories of golf swings: the swinger and the hitter. I have explained the difference in this post. Based on which type of golfer you are, there are certain variations (from chapter 10) that are compatible with your golf swing, while others are not. Homer has written out the compatibility of components in chapter 12, where he lays out the basic classification of a hitter’s swing and a swinger’s swing.
On top of all that, there are laws of physics that explain to us the most efficient and effective way to swing a golf club! Homer uses chapter 2 to explain these factors (although this is by far the most confusing chapter of the book, and I highly recommend reading the first section of my instructional content to understand it better).
Confused? I’ll show you exactly what chapters to read, when to read them, what to supplement them with, and even how to apply them to your own golf game. Get your handbook now.
RECAP: A golfer is a programmable machine which has 24 basic components, regardless of what the swing looks like. Based on the laws of physics, there are “optimal” ways to swing a golf club, primarily classified as either “swinging” or “hitting.” He uses chapter 2 to explain these laws of physics, chapter 7 and 10 to explain all the components of a golf swing, and chapter 12 to classify all these components into either a “hitting motion” or “swinging motion.”
Finally, Homer talks about the concept of “educated hands,” which explains that no matter who you are, and what type of swing you are implementing, the key to good golf is to teach your body (specifically your hands, wrists, and forearms) the correct way to move throughout the golf swing. You should know how to “feel” different types of golf swing motions. He uses chapter 4 to explain this concept.
The remaining chapters are simply supplements which further explain Homer’s theory of teaching golf and implementing the wisdom in his book effectively.
Below is a list of the chapters, and my interpretation of their purposes:
Chapter 1 – This chapter outlines Homer’s overall theory of the golf swing, and the way that he believes a student should learn it. He discusses how golf should be mastered step by step, and without a clear understanding of each step, a golfer will be plagued by frustration forever. He also states in this chapter that golf was never meant to be a “simple” game: “Demanding golf instruction be kept simple does not make it simple – only incomplete and ineffective.” He later explains (in a vague manner) the “machine concept” behind the book.
Chapter 2 – By far the most confusing chapter, Homer explains the physics behind his teachings, and essentially proves why certain movements in the golf swing are bio-mechanically more correct than others. To anyone starting out with this book, I highly suggest skipping this chapter and coming back to it later.
Chapter 3 – Provides a brief method for practicing the golf swing, improving it over time, and executing it on the golf course. Essentially, he explains my practice guide in highly technical terms, but nevertheless a useful chapter to read. I thoroughly enjoyed this chapter, and found his point that “feel” is misleading quite accurate as I explain in my Practical Guide to Ball-Striking Improvement.
Chapter 4 – Discusses the independent wrist positions that you can achieve throughout the golf swing. It may seem trivial and unnecessary to learn up front, but you will find the value in this chapter much later.
Chapter 5 – This is a short chapter that mainly discusses how important it is to learn how to manipulate the position of the golf club throughout the swing through the feel of various wrist/hand positions. For example, a golfer should never try to put the golf club in a perfect position at the top by the means of conscious manipulation, but rather learn what a perfect position at the top feels like through the process of “educating the hands.”
Chapter 6 – This is one of the most important chapters of the entire book, and explains how the golf swing is powered. You will learn the differences between “swinging” and “hitting” in this chapter, as well as the sequence of accumulating, loading, storing, delivering, and releasing power through the concept of the “power package.” It also talks about a method for directing the power towards the ball in the most efficient manner through the “aiming point concept.” Do not expect to understand this chapter the first time through!
Chapter 7 – The foundation for The Golfing Machine… Chapter 7 goes through each of the 24 components present in EVERY golfer’s swing. This chapter provides an overview of the components, but does not explain the various methods for executing each component in a real golf swing.
Chapter 8 – Simply a catalogue of golf swing positions by which Homer references to throughout the book. I’m not sure why he decided to put this information in chapter 8…
Chapter 9 – Again, this is just another way of “cataloguing” the golf swing. Homer separates the golf swing into three “zones,” which include the “body lane,” the “arms lane,” and the “hands lane.” I personally never found any use for this information in understanding the rest of the book, but not a bad idea to glance over.
Chapter 10 – This is the chapter that you will constantly refer back to. It takes all 24 components that were introduced in chapter 7 and explains all the possible ways of executing each component in a real golf swing.
Chapter 11 – A summary of the entire book, and a catalogue of chapter 10. If you couldn’t tell by now, Homer loves categorizing things. I couldn’t imagine what his home office looked like.
Chapter 12 – The SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT chapter of the book. This takes everything you have learned and attempts to describe how a golfer should actually swing a golf club. Although this chapter is hard to grasp alone, I am sure the resources I have provided below will clarify adequately.
Chapter 13 – This chapter is less than 1 page, and mainly just tells the reader that it is important to make sure that they are not mixing components that aren’t compatible. For example, a “hitter” should probably not use a “dual-horizontal” hinge action (I know, this doesn’t make any sense now, but it will in due time!).
Chapter 14 – A short description of Homer’s comparison of the golf swing with a computer. I personally believe this should be chapter 1, but as you might have already noticed, the chapters aren’t ordered all that well.
Recommended Reading Method and How to Apply TGM to Your Game
It took me 2 full years from the second I picked up The Golfing Machine to fully understand the cryptic golf text. You might ask why I went to the trouble? Well, I had heard many prominent instructors and even PGA Tour players like Bryson Dechambeau talk about it like it was the Holy Bible of Golf. I got curious and decided to put myself through months of pain to grasp what Homer Kelley intended to convey to golfers. Now that I finally understand the value of this book, I want to share some strategies for getting through it on your own. For the price of a cup of coffee, I’ll show you exactly what chapters to read, when to read them, what to supplement them with, and even how to apply them to your own golf game. Get your handbook below.Get it Now