If you watch the Golf Channel or read any of the magazines and books on golf, it will be very hard for you to miss the basic theme that “There is a perfect swing and you will do the most for your game by trying to get it”. Even when you watch a tournament on TV, you see the commentators participate in this conspiracy by showing us a frame-by-frame analysis of the pro and critiquing his/her every move. Now, maybe we can give the TV guys a break because they are just trying for some entertainment value, and let’s face it, most of us are interested in the details of the swing because we’ve been brainwashed by years of this theme.
For many years, I too was a “swing zombie” in my quest to improve my golf game. I even participated with a group of golfers that all had our swings videotaped and then we critiqued each other in a classroom setting. The feedback I received from all of us watching my swing ran from “very smooth” to “way off-kilter”. Everybody had a differing opinion of many of the swings that we watched and at least for me, it only confused me more.
In my younger years, I had a typical amateur slice swing that obviously came out of my years of playing baseball and softball. In those days, I would just aim for the left edge of any fairway and I could count on the ball moving left to right, at worst ending up in the right rough but usually hitting the fairway. I enjoyed playing golf those days but I always felt that something was missing. So when I could finally afford it,I decided to take a set of lessons from a pro. Of course, I told him that I wanted to get rid of my slice swing and he asked me back “are you sure?”. This answer kind of shocked me but he was a very good instructor and by the end of the lessons, I was able to hit the ball out of bounds both ways, left and right. I figured that it would just be a matter of time until I “dialed” into hitting it straight. To make the story short, 5 years later and I was still “dialing” and getting wrong numbers (ob, jail, water, no score improvement, etc.).
Looking back, I honestly believe now that if I had stuck with my old left to right swing and just used the rest of what I learned from the pro, that I would have improved significantly. Why? Because I was a typical golfer and not a 15 handicapper trying to become a single-digiter. Studies have shown that the overwhelming majority of amateur golfers shoot in the ’90s or above for men and it’s over 100 for women. If you are in that group, then you really should be working on parts of your game that will give you far more efficient score improvement for the time and effort spent. This would primarily be in the area of the short game and the mental game.
This is absolutely true for the average golfer but it may be true for all golfers as well. There is loads of evidence on the pro tours that the ones making the money are those best at chipping and putting. The golf research guru himself, Dave Pelz, actually followed tour players around for years taking detailed statistics and he proved it (see his book, My Short Game Bible). In addition to that, there are too many pros to list that admit that their swing is not “technically correct” or maybe not even very good…BUT THEY WIN TOURNAMENTS! Look at Jim Furyk, 2003 U.S. Open winner. He actually has a big loop in his backswing. Lee Trevino always told people that they should not copy his swing. Even Jack Nicklaus says in his books that he wasn’t a very good ball striker. Bruce Lietzke has won tournaments on the PGA and Senior tours playing his left-to-right shot his whole career – And he says he rarely practices! On top of that, the tours are littered with past champions that totally lost their game AFTER they tried to change it for the better. And now they are begging their sports psychologist to help them “find” their old swing.
I have talked to PGA golf instructors that say it’s their clients that want the swing advice (just like I did) even when they recommend working some other part of their game first. So maybe it’s our own fault for the most part in creating the current situation where average scores of amateurs have not dropped one stroke in the last 50 years despite the advances in equipment technology. Now don’t get me wrong, if you are a true beginner, you really should start out with learning the basics of the golf swing. But if you’re hitting it solid most of the time and finding the fairway half the time, you are good to go for a real scoring quest as more swing advice is not the quickest way for you to drop your score. There is just so much more than you can do, on and off the course, that will pay you back in saved strokes for far less time spent than changing your swing. Most of us have precious little free time that we can work to improve our games so why not work on that which will give us the greatest bang for our (time) buck?
And so, let me be the first to make a pledge to the golf spirit inside me (I always thought that golf is like religion):
I for one, do solemnly swear that I will not pay attention to any swing advice of any sort until I can score in the ’70s consistently with the swing I have (and maybe not even then).
About the Author
Break 80 Inc.
Dedicated to score improvement for golfers who have little time to work on their game. Free ezine: “The Very Busy Golfer”, free ebook: “How you can play better golf using self-hypnosis” and free ecourse.