The Golf Swing Is A Puzzle


The golf swing has been a mystery for decades. It’s a puzzle for most.

In the beginning the golf swing was simple and very personal. It was the goal that was important; the score. Eventually, adults came to the conclusion (bad mistake) that golf swing instruction would be the answer to better shots and better golf. Welcome swing teachers and everyone that has ever thought about holding a golf club.

With the advent of high speed photography, split screen video images and all the techy stuff available to the swing teachers today, the golf swing has been divided into millions of positions and components. And now the swing is even more of a mystery.

My evolution was no different. In the beginning (age 8) it was easy to play golf. Just go play golf. Eventually I thought I could avoid hitting any bad shots by fixing my swing.

Thus began my downward spiral. Even though I continued to improve and compete on the PGA Tour for five years, my game was never going to reach the level it should have.

That’s what this e-zine is all about, avoiding the trap of “fixing” your swing to fix all your golf problems. It’s very tempting to think you are not entitled to any more poor shots and there is a solution. Just change your grip, adjust your feet, bend your knees a bit more, use your master eye, etc. You see what I mean about the swing being a mystery?

Our subject this week,

Don’t Try to Fix The Swing -

- Solve The Problem

What do you do when your game is not up to par? How do you “fix” it? What do you do when it breaks while you are playing? What do you do if your game stays sour for weeks or months?
Most often the mistaken “solution” to all the golfer’s problems is to try to fix their swing. Often a direct assault on your swing in an effort to make it look like some good player’s swing results in a life-long disaster.

I have repeatedly seen golfers seek out golf teachers and ask for help to get back on track. Sometimes it’s a teacher they have worked with before. Many times the answer to the player’s problems is sought from a teacher who is new to the player.

In any event, the assumed solution to the golfer’s problems is to fix their swing. The teacher and the golfer head to the range to diagnose the swing problem and “fix” it. You hit some wedges to warm up and then some seven irons to show the teacher a fuller swing. Finally the teacher pronounces that the problem is in your grip or your left arm, or your butt is not out far enough.

You try to make the change. You are completely absorbed in thinking about that specific part of your body while you are hitting shots for the teacher. And, like magic, your shots are now flying longer and truer. The teacher may mention one, two, or three things you are doing wrong with your body that are causing all your problems. Great! You feel “fixed.” You know what the “problems” are and what you “must” do to your body to fix the swing so that your shots are once again good ones.

You head to the course with great expectations. You start out with a drive down the middle, right off the sweet spot of the driver. Your confidence soars. You hit your 6-iron on the green, but it isn’t quite as solid as the drive. In the very back of your mind, the question light goes off and you are almost imperceptibly asking yourself “What went wrong?” What was different about this swing and the driver swing? You lip out the birdie putt and head for the next tee.

As you stand on the tee you are making practice swings trying to regain that “feeling” that you had on the range with the teacher, but you can’t seem to get it back. You try several things to no avail. You finish the nine and aren’t feeling all that good about your swing and your game.
The bright idea comes to you that the problem was with the teacher. You’ve heard about another teacher that has helped some players. You give him a call and set up a time.

The new teacher watches you hit some shots and tells you to focus on your rhythm and “take away.” The rest of your swing is fine. You start to hit some pretty good shots. They are solid, long and true. This feels good and you’re feeling on top of the golf world.

You go back to the course to play a quick nine to cement the new ideas. You hit it good for a couple of holes and then once again you start hitting some shots that don’t feel right. You search for the answers based on the ideas from the new teacher. The feel doesn’t return, and once again you end the nine holes thinking this game is a mystery.

I’ve compressed this experience, but you understand what is being said here. What has really happened? You were asked to focus on your body to fix your swing in an attempt to improve your game and lower your score. You went to two teachers that gave you conflicting things to think about to “fix” your swing. They worked on the range but disappeared on the course. You could never recapture the same feeling that you had on the range on the course.

The bottom line is that your game did not get better. What’s worse, because of the conflicting opinions you were given you now are confused about your swing. You are thinking full-time about your body and not at all about playing the game. You haven’t been fixed. In fact, you may be headed for a wreck.

The solution to your swing problem may very well have been to simply stop playing golf for a while. Do something else for a week then come back to it. If you continue to have a swing or shot-making problem, take another week off. Eventually you will find that the “good-old-you” has returned and all is once again well.

Golfers without a solid foundation, or clear understanding of the swing, try any and every “fix” for their golf problems. They want immediate solutions to problems with their game. Trouble’s brewing when you’re looking for a quick fix.

When I asked for help, even when I was playing on the PGA Tour for a living, this is exactly the type of instruction I got. It didn’t help my game. Sometimes my shot quality improved, but the instruction was never designed to improve my golf game.

You want your game to improve. You want ideas that are permanent. You may need to become a better ball-striker, but your big quest is to consistently score lower. To accomplish that, you need a teacher who is really a coach. Your coach needs to play golf with you, or at least watch you play. It would be best if he can watch you play tournament golf.

This is the only way he can assess your golf game and find out what is really causing your scoring problems. Your coach needs to assess what your problem really is. It could be your short game, course management, fear, doubt or confusion. If you have a swing problem, your coach needs to fix your swing problems without telling you to focus on a part of your body or on what your body is doing. Your swing and game are an outward expression of your thinking. If your game is to improve, you must address your thinking.

Only after your real game problem has been identified by a qualified, detached coach should solutions of any kind be suggested.

What do you do if you are in a tournament and your warm-up session went poorly? I was always tempted to try to “fix” my swing before I went to the first tee. What about you? Are you tempted to try to fix it?

I have a lot of wise friends. One of them, Dave Graebel, saw that happening to me in an amateur tournament in Wisconsin. He took me aside and asked me to consider the idea of a situation he was going to present. He set up the situation. “You are a good shot with a rifle. You are given three bullets and asked to hit the bull’s eye. Your first shot is high and to the right. You have two bullets remaining and need to hit the bull’s eye with one. Do you adjust the sights or aim low left?” That’s right: “Dance with what brung ‘ya.” You can try to fix the problem later, but not as you are headed to the first tee.

Moral of the story; understand the five Concept Golf swing principles because they are the solid foundation to a consistently good shot-making. Develop your own authentic swing and play golf to enjoy the game.

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