I've spent my evening rummaging in books and archives, trawling through videos and pulling together a blog post about my current juggling obsession - The Golf Club Trick.
I know there are one or two juggling historians amongst us (Mike Armstrong, David Cain I'm mostly looking at you!) who may be able to flesh out some details and fill in some gaps.
If anyone has any information about the history of this trick (especially some details of when Joe Marsh or Freddie Ferrer added it to their acts which would help date it's origins) I'd really appreciate it.
Also if anyone has any pictures of Joe Marsh which would help identify whether the picture attributed to "Joe Marks" is actually Joe Marsh - or if it's not - does anyone have any information about Joe Marks?
Well there's a video of Joe Marsh (not doing the golf club trick) with some very clear close ups here:
Which you must know about, since you posted it. :-)
So I'll post it here for the interest of anyone else who hasn't seen it.
...and now I've read the article: Nice one! I like articles that gather up all the known info on one particular subject.
I may have some info and pics to help you out. I'll see what I can gather tomorrow.
Yes, that picture from Jugglers Galore is Joe Marsh. I'm have the same picture with the label "Joe Marsh" in front of me right now. I would recognize him anyway. He invented the trick in 1930. I may have other pictures in my collection of old timers doing it. I do a version with tennis rackets that can be seen in the following video.
I’m still trying to find a date for Freddie Ferrer, but if we assume he was 20 in 1930, that would make him in his 60s in the video of him performing the feat on TV – which isn't as implausible as I had originally thought.
Having re-watched several of the videos very carefully, and bearing in mind what I know of Joe Marsh’s props (thanks Topper!), I think Frankie Ferrer's approach to the trick *may* be gimmicked differently.
It’s hard to describe without openly theorising about the gimmicks on the internet (something I’m naturally opposed to given my history as a magician) but the way Frankies top club moves suggests that’s a point contact balance, and that the golfball is probably genuine as well.
This combined with the mention of Ty’s golf tee suggests that my original thinking about how to make the golf ball work is still a valid solution - so I may pursue that avenue of thought.
Coming up with my own approach to the gimmick also would feel a lot less like cheating!
I was doing the full golf club with ball balance today, It just needs a bit more practice to make it feel more natural.
I have a lot more pictures of Jon Anton performing the golf club trick going back to 1965.
I spoke to Jon today and as far as he knows there isn't any film footage of Joe Marsh performing this trick. He said he thinks Joe first performed it in 1930.
Joe Marsh 1905-1990 used to make props for Tommy Cooper.
If anyone is interested Jon has a lot of his performances on video/dvd, he said it would be nice if they were on line but doesn't know how to do it. He has shown me footage of three different routines including the golf club balance when I have visited him.
Nice photos (I love the last one!)
I could probably help get the videos online (and would really like to see them!) but I'm not local and wouldn't want the responsibility of receiving anything precious through the post, especially if there's only one copy of it (my postman has a habit of leaving parcels in inappropriate places)
But if you can get a DVD copied and post the copy to me, I'll see about getting them up on juggling.tv and/or youtube.
The last photo was apparently taken shortly before he passed away.
Jon is copying some of his acts onto a DVD over this weekend. When I have pick it up I will pop in the post to you.
Really nice article Paul, plenty of new information for me which I am thankful for.
I could add history prior to the trick.
Like you say, it is inspired by billiard cue tricks, and the inventor was Paul Cinquevalli, who did several different combinations of cues and balls.
Cinquevalli was (probably) inspired by Katsnoshin Awata (I know that they knew each other, performed together at least once in 1886, and Katsnoshin is mentioned in interviews later) who did tricks with Hitotsumari (which has it´s origin in drumsticks from Taiko) and balls of tightly knit yarn.
Many gaffs were used around 1900 to create similar tricks.
I performed the trick every night for a month in 2011, for a dinner show in Stockholm. I did the version where you hit the top club so it spins around, but I had no club horizontal in the bottom, just a "T" on my forehead.
Have you seen Ian's version?
I'm not sure about that, it looks like he hasn't really thought through what he's going to next.
In fact, I'd say that the whole trick looks a bit half baked to me...
... I'll get my coat.
I was rewatching...
...and I noticed that he also puts a golf ball between the *bottom* two clubs. I thought I'd reread your article to see if that was mentioned (or anyone earlier doing that), and the article has gone. Is it archived anywhere?
Of course, it's archived (minus photos) here: https://web.archive.org/web/20160414102942/https://www.paulseward.com/blog/20140421/the-golf-club-trick/
...and you do mention Lanka in there. I'd have to rewatch all the videos to check for the second golf ball done by others. Maybe later....
From memory he's the only one I found using a second ball.
In practice though, the second ball doesn't add much difficulty. Certainly not as much as playing the flute does.
Unfortunately I've disposed of the club I had prepped for that bit of the trick (which I stopped doing because I thought it stretched the credibility of the trick a little far)... but I guess I've got until May to make a replacement.
Jon Anton told me Joe Marsh learnt the trick with two golf balls but said it looked to fake to stopped performing it after a short while.
Here's another one, the "standard" version, Frankie Ferrer:
Hard to say for sure, but that one looks a lot closer to my version than most others - there are a few tells that discount some of the more gaffed versions.
Thanks for finding it!
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