Ted Ray’s Golf Swing


The question “What’s wrong with his/her golf swing?”  is often answered today by looking at slow motion video. But the question goes back long before video analysis. It was raised with regard to Ted Ray’s swing shortly after he had participated in the famous 1913 U.S. Open won by Francis Ouimet.

The November 1913 issue of The American Golfer included the following short item titled “Ray’s ‘Sway'”:

Ray comes to us with the reputation of swaying on his up-stroke. Ray does not sway—and we have observed him very closely. What he does is this: Just after the backswing starts the weight is transferred to the right leg; then, about half way up the swing the left shoulder is dropped more or less—a movement in contradistinction to, and offsetting, the first, but to the uninitiated eye, giving every appearance of a sway. The first puts the body weight where it properly belongs—back of the ball—the second enables the arms to complete the upswing. The bending of the knees, more especially the right one, outwardly, creates the false impression of a body sway. It is a sort of leaning in to the ball. Not “according to Hoyle” perhaps, but mighty effective—in Ray’s case.

If you didn’t know, you would have thought that Johnny Miller wrote this! But this was a note in a 1913 golf magazine. And so, not unexpectedly, a short poem was also included:


Oh! tell us Teddy—Teddy Ray,
Tell us truly, we do pray—
If as some are wont to say,
You do really, really sway.

We ourselves incline that way;
But that is not the proper way,
Our friends inform us day by day
When at the 19th hole we pay.


Does Ray sway?
Ray does not sway.
He leans; which means
Ray does not sway.

Ray was known for his portly build and prodigious length off the tee, though his ball often landed in awful lies. His recovery powers were said to be phenomenal and cartoonists usually caricatured him with a niblick in hand, festooned with clumps of heather and saplings, with an inseparable pipe clamped between his teeth. During his career he won the 1912 British Open and the 1920 U.S. Open.


  1. You’d think that Ray’s pipe
    Would garner more gripe
    Amid all the hype
    On the sway in his swipe.


  1. […] of golf begins with the 1913 U.S. Open won in a playoff by Francis Ouimet over Harry Vardon and Ted Ray. The author Mark Frost marks this event as “the birth of Modern Golf” in his book The […]

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