There's something wrong with modern golf instruction attitude


I played yesterday with a young golf pro…great player and all round good bloke. He has embarked on his first year as a touring professional this year (2007) and is back in town for a catch up and some practice before heading away again.

He started well. Was three under after five holes. I wasn’t going badly … but I was looking a tad shabby compared to the “young gun”.

Things changed a bit after that. Although he was three under (on a championship golf course) he wasn’t confident. His mentioned that his putter was wrong, despite making three awesome putts in a row, and needed to be changed. He was also working on his swing and wasn’t happy with his ball striking. To be honest with you, I was disappointed with his comments and attitude.

I don’t get to play with tour professionals very often. I was relishing the chance to test my game against his. When he got it to three under I was ready to knuckle down and see if I could compete. When he spoke of his putter problems, lack of confidence and swing problems I knew then he was not a ‘player’. He was more concerned with how he played, rather than just playing with what he had on the day.

It didn’t take long for him to lose the plot. One bogey followed another…it wasn’t long before he was over the card and struggling. Eventually, after losing a few balls, he gave up. Content to work on his swing for the remainder of the round.

I don’t like imparting my thoughts on others but in this case I couldn’t resist. I like this guy and I want to see him do well.

It turns out his golf coach wants him to make some swing changes. I can’t remember exactly what they (swing changes) are and it doesn’t matter. What concerns me is that he is a tour player and he doesn’t yet know how to play golf. When I say “play golf” I mean actually attempting to shoot the best round he can each day. Playing golf means that you don’t give up and start working on your swing. Even more importantly he had no clue about gaining confidence. I’m also sure his coach doesn’t either.

But he wasn’t interested in learning or listening…he was adamant that his game was off and his swing needed work, that the only way to improve was to fix his swing. I’m not sure this is the answer.

Why would a really talented guy need to make such mundane and potentially useless swing changes when he doesn’t even know how to stick a round out for the day? I know this was just a social round for him…but his poor form as continued for sometime. So much so that later in the day he talked about quitting and doing something else all together.

His case is indicative of many who search for the big bucks on tour. Most have good golf swings and can play well. But like amateur golfers they don’t leave their swings alone. They like to tinker and make changes for the sake of it. This makes no sense to me because rarely do I see it work.

I’m positive my mate would do just fine if he left his swing alone…developed some trust and confidence (by going automatic) and get on with things. Stuffing around, and worrying about positions on the backswing and downswing is ridiculous. I don’t see the point in it. It seems his coach doesn’t agree. Maybe he is happy to impart his knowledge on this young player or justify the cost of each lesson he gives. Either way I believe his coach is doing him a disservice.

I would have preferred to see him battle the round out. Stick to his guns and shoot a good score. To me this is much more important skill than swing technique alone. When and only when a golfer knows how to play golf automatically should he try and fix his swing. Without this understanding the golfer will never be able to be the best he can be.

I hope he proves me wrong…I really do. After what I saw yesterday I don’t think he will, but I would be happy to eat my words.

It seems that yet another golfer is trapped in the obsession with “fixing technique” rather than playing golf.

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