Ernest Jones: Swing The Cluhead and Club-Focused Golf Instruction

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Ernest Jones was an English professional golfer and instructor who made major contributions to golf in the early 20th century. An accomplished player, he lost part of his leg in World War I. Jones then reinvented his golf swing and developed an innovative approach focused entirely on coordinating the body’s motion to swing the clubhead efficiently. This led him to write the acclaimed instructional book “Swing the Clubhead” in 1937, emphasizing rhythm over mechanics and feeling over-analysis.

Jones’ revolutionary swing theories centered around minimizing swing thoughts and swinging the clubhead freely while keeping the wrists firm and posture upright. He is considered the forefather of the “club-focused” style of instruction, which shifts the emphasis from body motion to the motion of the club itself. Jones’ disciples and adherents of club-focused instruction include Hall of Fame instructor Manuel de la Torre and his protege Ed LeBeau, who teach club-focused, target-aware methods for swinging the club. Studies have shown that club-focused methods can yield faster improvement for students over traditional instruction.

The key points about Jones’ influence are his emphasis purely on swinging the clubhead freely, his authorship of the acclaimed “Swing the Clubhead” book elaborating this method, and his spawning of the “club-focused” style of instruction (CFI) that lives on today. He fundamentally changed golf instruction in a way that still resonates. I have become a believer in this method, and this is now the fourth post in our series on CFI. We’ll review Jones’ bio, learn about his disciples and those carrying on his methods, and review some drills. As always, we will conclude with further reading and some videos so that you can see some of this for yourself.

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Ernest Jones – Bio

Ernest Jones (1887-1965) was an English professional golfer who made major contributions to golf instruction. Jones started playing golf as a young boy and was a talented amateur golfer, winning his club’s caddie championship by age 12. By 18, he was an assistant golf pro at Chislehurst Golf Club and became head pro at age 25. His reputation as a player, teacher, and clubmaker rose.

Just before the war, Jones won the 1914 Kent Open, showing his ability against top competition. He enlisted to serve in World War I in 1914, but while serving in France in March 1915, he lost his right leg just below the knee after being hit by a grenade. Remarkably, Jones returned to golf quickly after his injury, shooting scores in the 70s and 80s while playing on one leg in 1916. This changed his focus to teaching and led Jones to develop an innovative approach to the golf swing focused on natural rhythm and swinging the club freely.

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Teaching Career

In 1923, after moving to the United States, Jones accepted the position of head professional at the Women’s National Golf Club in Long Island. This launched his career as one of the most prominent golf instructors in America over the next 40 years. Jones would give as many as 600 lessons a month from his New York City studio and worked with many top touring pros. He authored two acclaimed instructional books explaining his revolutionary swing theories: 1937’s “Swing the Clubhead” and 1957’s “Swinging Into Golf.” Jones emphasized rhythm over mechanics and feeling over analysis to produce a swing – ideas considered radical at the time but still influence golf instruction today.

Jones lived in Glen Head, New York, for over 40 years until he died in 1965. His legacy includes playing on the European tour, winning multiple tournaments, serving as head pro at several prestigious American clubs, and teaching countless professionals and amateurs. In 1977, Jones was posthumously inducted into the World Golf Teachers Hall of Fame in recognition of his approach to golf and immense impact in advancing the art and science of golf instruction.

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As noted in our post on Manuel de la Torre, he learned the swing principles of Ernest Jones from his father, Angel de la Torre. Angel was a five-time Spanish National Golf Champion and a close friend of Jones. When Angel became the first head pro at Pasatiempo in 1928, Jones followed and became the resident teaching professional at Pasatiempo from 1930 through 1932. Angel passed on Jones’ “swing the clubhead” method to his son Manuel, who went on to become a famous instructor himself. Manuel emphasized eliminating swing thoughts, feeling the clubhead throughout the swing and using the body to create an effortless swinging motion.

In essence, Jones’ swing theories were passed down from Jones to Angel de la Torre to Manuel de la Torre, who taught a modified version focused on rhythm, balance, and allowing the club to release naturally. Manuel became the foremost authority on Jones’ methods and brought them to prominence in his long teaching career. His legacy is carried on through his own students, such as Bob Brue, a golf professional from Milwaukee (where de la Torre was based), and the aforementioned Edward LeBeau of Heartland Golf Schools, author of the manual “Club-Focused Golf Instruction,” which brings together de la Torre’s and Ernest Jones’ teachings.

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Swing the Clubhead Drills

In one of his seminars, LeBeau states, “The one thing that great shots and horrible shots have in common is that golfers have no idea what caused either one!” CFI and the “Swing the Clubhead” method provide a blueprint for obtaining consistent contact, starting with a neutral grip, maintaining your center, and swinging the clubhead at the target.

We will look at two specific drills – one for the backswing and one for maintaining balance and centeredness – both are connected and things that I have personally struggled with. I assume the same applies to many others who suffer from inconsistent contact.

Jones’ primary practice drill involved swinging the handkerchief and knife simultaneously with a club to test whether one was even swinging at all. Any conscious and active bending of the wrists, which Jones called “levering,” instantly causes the club to fall out of step with the swinging knife. I have been practicing this with both my Whippy Tempomaster and LagShot training clubs.


Handkerchief Drill

The Ernest Jones handkerchief drill involves swinging a handkerchief with a pocketknife attached to the end in unison with a golf club. The flexible handkerchief allows the knife to swing freely, representing passive wrists, while the golfer swings the club. Any conscious bending or “levering” of the wrists causes the club to fall out of sequence with the swinging knife.

Jones used this drill to promote balance, control, and proper wrist action in the golf swing by feeling the correct motion with the handkerchief and recreating that sensation with the club. The passive swinging of the knife engrains the feeling of swinging the clubhead through the ball rather than manipulating the club with the hands and arms. Bob Brue demonstrates the swinging knife drill nicely in the adjacent video. He also shows some makeshift training aids and suggests making our own.

Bob Brue – Swing the Clubhead

“Ernest Jones Drill” for Balance

I like the adjacent drill from Bobby Steiner – it is a great way to feel centeredness, improve balance, and reduce and remove excess lateral motion in the golf swing. A few weeks back, I stumbled on this one and have been performing it with a ball and indoors with just a cut-down practice club. For additional indoor practice, I have started swinging a medicine ball with a normal swing and modified stance, as he shows in the video.

My instructor prescribed a similar drill years ago to reinforce an inside path and reduce the tendency to come over the top. At the time, it worked for that purpose, but if I understood the real benefits of this drill, I would have stuck with it as it is great for removing the lateral motion that leads to inconsistent contact.

Ernest Jones Drill

Further Reading

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Ernest Jones Swing the Clubhead Method
by Ernest Jones

Summary: Ernest Jones’ 1922 and 1930 golf instruction book focuses on coordinating the motion of the body to develop an efficient, compact golf swing. Jones emphasizes keeping the wrists firm, maintaining proper posture, and clearing the hips through impact. The book uses photographs and drills to teach ideal positions in the takeaway, backswing, downswing, and follow-through. Jones advocates swinging smoothly in rhythm, letting the clubhead accelerate naturally rather than using pure muscular power. This technical guide provides step-by-step lessons on building sound fundamentals into an effective, repeating golf swing.

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Understanding the Golf Swing
by Manuel de la Torre

Summary: Manuel de la Torre was a leading teacher of Ernest Jones’s swing principles, emphasizing a simpler approach focused on developing a true swinging motion rather than complex body movements. The book covers the philosophy of the golf swing, analysis of ball flights, techniques for special shots like pitching and chipping, the mental side of golf, and understanding golf courses. It argues that if the club is swung properly, the body movements will take care of themselves, so golfers should focus on the motion of the club rather than their bodies. The book blends golf philosophy and practical advice for golfers of all levels, from beginners to professionals.

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Club-Focused Golf Instruction
by Edward LeBeau

Summary: Club-focused golf instruction focuses on the golf club motion rather than body motion, an approach used by only 5% of instructors. This method, championed by Hall of Fame instructors Ernest Jones and Manuel de la Torre, allows faster learning and better play. LeBeau combines de la Torre’s expertise with educational principles into a powerful instruction manual bringing together decades of club-focused instruction experience. Scientific studies have verified club-focused instruction’s superiority for improving player performance over traditional body-focused methods.


Manuel de la Torre on Ernest Jones
On Plane Backswing
Ernest Jones Handkerchief Drill
Ed LeBeau – Backswing





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