June 7, 2017

Golfer Cure Thyself!

"I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand" is an old Chinese proverb. As golfers we forget that we should be our best instructor and that we learn from doing. As a teaching professional, I not only show the student the most effective way to produce a golf shot, but I give them the tools and understanding to self-correct when I am not there. Some golfers will hit a bad shot and have not a clue what caused the bad result. They will ask their playing partners opinion, think they did something but actually did the opposite, or apply a tip from a golf magazine and make a prognosis usually based on faulty assumptions. Working with the wrong set of facts will never produce the desired results.

Your number one indicator of what happened is the flight of the ball. The balls' flight is dictated by the clubhead path, the angle of attack, and the relationship of the clubhead to the path at impact. To curve a ball to slice, the clubhead must be open (pointed to the right for a right-handed golfer) to the path of the club to produce the side spin and drag resistance in the air to create the bending trajectory. A ball that goes to the right of the target is not necessarily a slice. If it went straight with no curve, then you either aimed there or your swing path came from the inside and swung through toward the direction the ball went. Click on this link Ball Flight Laws and Corrections for a more detailed explanation.

A fellow PGA head professional told me this true story a few years back. His club had a Member-Guest tournament and as a tee gift they took an eight picture sequence of each person's golf swing. Great teaching tool and really gave a good visual of their swinging motion. All thought this was a great gift except for one person. He refused to believe that that person was him and that was his golf swing! The professional swore that he did not doctor the pictures in anyway and that person with the purple slacks and the pink polka-dotted shirt was truly him. He refused to take the pictures, because that was not the golf swing that he visualized that he possessed.

The title of this article is Golfer Cure Thyself, but it comes from Doctor Cure Thyself. It is very easy to misdiagnose yourself. That is why smart doctors go to a colleague for a checkup or cure of an ailment. Over 99% of PGA Tour pros have their own swing instructors. The best ones use them as a resource. They don't rely on them to play their game for them. The teachers are there to keep them in their best form for them to play their best. Those that don't have personal teachers have other "eyes" that give them feedback like their caddies. Bubba Watson is one that doesn't have an instructor. He relies on his ball flight to give him information. Jack Nicklaus took two lessons a year from Jack Grout, his longtime professional at his home course in Columbus, Ohio. He did this every year until Grout's passing in 1989. Grout taught Jack to be self-reliant and trust what he had taught him. In the two lessons a year, they just made sure that Jack was not veering from the swing that made him great.

We all picture ourselves and our golf swing s in a certain way. Reality and high speed digital cameras tell us a different story. Just like it is wise to have a yearly check-up at the doctor's office, it is prudent to have some knowledgeable eyes check your golf swing from time to time. Armed with a fundamental understanding of your golf swing and the forces that influence the golf ball, you can be your best teacher. However, few golfers can totally do it on their own. A little help and a different set of "eyes" from time to time can prevent you from going off in the wrong direction.


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