Technique or not Technique
I played yesterday with an old friend who is a PGA Professional. He has been traditionally trained but has a real passion for the game of golf. He loves it. He mixes with the members of his club on a weekly basis, loves talking golf with anyone who will listen and thoroughly enjoys coaching and sharing his knowledge. Most importantly he is NOT closed off to learning new ideas from outside sources.
After the round he was interested in learning more about my ideas for golf improvement and how I could help him further. The first thing that was noticeable that he was very “careful”. His was deliberate on each shot and seemed to lack any real flair for remarkable play. This is common for those that have spent years learning and applying technique. You can literally see their minds ticking over on each shot as they rehearse the correct procedure. I believe this to be tiring and not 100% necessary and this is exactly what my professional friend was doing.
After 10 holes he was 3 under. A good score on a unfamiliar course. It seemed he got tired and more tense as the round continued. His swing lacked flow and as a result the ball didn’t zip off the club face. He made some poor swings and he got tighter. He did hit an excellent shot on 17 however. Stuck behind a tree, he needed a high slice to bring the ball onto the green. The shot came out perfectly and finished on the green. I asked him later what was going on in his mind. “I wasn’t thinking about my swing”, was his reply. Interesting.
He ended up with a score of 73. Not bad but I do think it should have been better. He agreed that he needed to think less and play more. I believe this one step will help him not only to play good golf but some extraordinary golf. He has worked hard on his technique for many years and now it’s time to let it happen. He will make some real progress now.
Our conversation ended with a discussion on technique. He wanted to know my thoughts on applying technique to a struggling golfer. My rules are as follows;
- Get the best information you can find. Beg, borrow or steal this information. Avoid quick tips from magazines and anything claiming to offer a miracle cure
- Practice away from the golf course. Never think technique while you play (at least not when you’re swinging the club).
- Learn to automate any swing change. This is critical!
- Play golf when you get to the golf course. This means that you don’t worry or concern yourself with technique for the duration of the round
This approach will ensure the quickest learning time and still allow you to play your best golf while making changes.
I’m not against technical training. It is a necessary evil and one that is unlikely to go away. If you want to experience a real breakthrough with your golf you do need to leave your golf swing alone eventually. Even a dedicated golf pro can’t fight the natural learning machine.