Golf Books #51 (Homer Kelley’s Golfing Machine: The Curious Quest That Solved Golf)

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Few golf fans know the name Homer Kelley, writes Gummer, an acclaimed golf writer himself who admits even he didn’t know Kelley’s story until relatively recently. But Gummer aims to bring awareness to a man and the book he wrote that revolutionized the game of golf. Never a golfer himself, Kelley devoted his life to finding what made the perfect golf swing. Spending 30 years of his life in writing The Golfing Machine, Kelley analyzed the different components to a swing via geometry and physics, and insisted that there was no perfect solution—it was a system, not a method, and it was up to the golfer to find the proper components geared toward his own game. Even after his first book was finally published in 1969, Kelley continued to fine-tune his work, publishing several updated editions.

And perhaps fittingly, he died while giving a seminar on the book. Alas, The Golfing Machine itself might have appealed to only the most physics-minded players: as one critic of Kelley’s lamented, it all seems convoluted. Yet when one reads over the laundry list of professional golfers who benefited from Kelley’s ideas, one wonders why Kelley’s legacy lived in anonymity for so long. Gummer takes complicated ideas from Kelley’s book and makes them easy to follow, and while the subject matter isn’t universally fascinating, golf fans will find it to be a quick, enjoyable read.


New York Times – “It is most worthy as an engaging and warm story of a simple but complex man obsessed with the simplicities and complexities of golf…Read the book and see for yourself. It is a tale that adds a charming piece to the puzzle.” 

“Homer Kelley for years loomed as one of the games last great mysteries, an obscure but important man who reshaped our perceptions of the modern swing. In this substantive and stylish book, Gummer unravels Kelley’s elusive personal history and sheds light on his considerable influence. It’s a story that will enlighten teachers, enthrall serious players, and entertain golfers at all levels.” -Guy Yocom, Golf Digest

“Scott Gummer has done a masterful job at a daunting task: solving the riddle of the man who solved (he thought) the riddle of the golf swing. Homer Kelley’s Golfing Machine is a sad and funny story beautifully told.” – Curt Sampson, Author of Hogan (source)

About the author

Scott Gummer’s debut novel, “Parents Beahaving Badly”, is a suburban satire about overzealous adults and youth sports. The author of two previous books and contributor to over 40 magazines, including Vanity Fair, Sports Illustrated, Golf, Travel + Leisure and more, his first assignment was for LIFE magazine about an Alabama woman who had been a bridesmaid twelve times. His most memorable assignment was bush skills ranger training in Africa for Fortune. He lives with his wife and four children in the California wine country.

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