lesson today. It was a good one. It was also very easy. Unfortunately, I wish
it wasn’t so easy. You see….
has had a ton of lessons with other pros. She came to me in a right state. I
asked her to hit balls to warm up, and after a sufficient amount of time, I gave
her a 10 ball test. She hit 9 shanks (extreme heel) and 1 pretty good shot.
obviously confused and stressed. Here was the dialogue;
Her; yes, all the time.
Her; My takeaway was wrong and I
lifted my head and I moved my foot and grip twisted and I bent my left arm
part of the club did you hit with?
Her; I don’t know
point I am thinking, “This poor woman. She obviously has no clue what just
happened. In fact, it is worse than that. She thinks the complete opposite
thing happened. Not only is she at a loss to fix things, but if she
attempts to fix it and is successful in her attempts, she will actually make
things worse (for example, if she tried to hit closer to the heel, as she
thinks her mistake is a toe shot). Sometimes she hit it from the hosel centre, which produced a straight running shot, which she assumed was a top shot.
happening on the golf course
to fix it?
Her; I go to my pro
sometimes he doesn’t. Last time he told me I need to get my backswing here
(shows me position).
At this point, I realise that she clearly has no awareness for impact, and the
fixes that her teachers make are always INTERNAL and there is no attempt to directly educate
her on what is actually happening. The fix is always indirect, and an attempt to fix a correlation rather than at least identify the CAUSE of the bad result. Don’t get me wrong, you can fix someone temporarily
by providing/forcing some kind of position, or giving some internal thought.
But if they don’t understand the WHY you are doing it, it will be a fleeting fix and leave the
player truly helpless. Worse still, they will need to come back to the pro
constantly any time something goes wrong; great for the bank account of the
pro, poor for the development of the player.
me wrong, there are a lot of good teachers out there. I converse with many of them
on the forums I frequent, and in telephone conversations. However, there are
also many who miss the true basics of this game; and I am NOT talking Grip,
stance and posture. It saddens me to say that, the lesson today is such a
common occurrence that it is genuinely frightening. I would say that over 95%
of players I ‘interview’ in this manner always start by talking about what
internal fixes they use. From my extensive testing of players, I find that the
majority are actually better off with a more external thought to fix the issues
at hand. Sure, there is a difference between learning something for the long
term and just getting it around the golf course. But every player, no matter
what level, needs to know how to correct a poor pattern in the quickest way
possible if they are to manage their game on the course. This is not about ‘QUICKFIXES’, it is about managing yourself and your game in the right scenario.
95% of players think internally, but about 80% of those guys/girls can’t even
identify what the real problem was, at its most basic level. If you can’t
identify the problem, how the hell are you going to fix it? Sure, occasionally
a blind squirrel finds a nut. But he will lose it, and he will die of
starvation eventually. Last week, we looked at BALL FLIGHT LAWS. From these, we
can identify what the major faults can be, in their most basal form
hit the sweet spot?
control you clubface/path relationship?
honest, in my own game, that’s pretty much all I work on these days. Sure,
sometimes I get a little more into ‘how’ to do it, and look at creating more
consistency. But EVERYTHING you do in your swing should be linked to either
the above variables
your ability to ‘manipulate’ the above variables
your ability to repeat the above variables
example, you get told to shift your weight more to the target. Why? I hope you
realise it is to get the divot in a better position. If you don’t understand
this goal, your SUBCONSCIOUS CONCEPTS may kick in and you will be wasting your
time. Movements should organically arise as a result of a goal oriented task.
I.E. the goal is to get your divot in a better position, the weight shift
should be supplemental to this concept driven goal. How you choose to do it is
up to you and your coach – internal, external process, even neutral focuses can
help things (especially consistency of movements). But if you don’t understand
the goal, you will be screwed when it goes wrong.
What did I do
you will realise, I showed her what was happening at impact. I videoed the
impact and showed the hosel of the club clearly striking the ball at impact.
She had absolutely no clue, and until she saw it live, she probably would have
gone about fixing this with another backswing drill. Not every player has this
lack of awareness for where they struck the ball, but you would be very
surprised. A lot of good players may even mis-identify a subtle heel vs toe
shot. I have coached tour players who have poor strike awareness.
dot on her golf ball with a dry erase marker pen. She hit shots and now could
visually see where the ball had hit on the clubface. We did another test; this
time, only 1 shank and 9 good shots. But the pattern was still heel biased. She
hit 3 from close to the centre, but the other 6 were heels.
try and identify where she had hit on the face before she looks. I gave her a
point for each guess she got correct. This is AWARENESS BUILDING. Soon, she
will be able to identify heels and toe shots without the marker pen.
more tests, she was definitely getting more shots from the centre, and the
shank had disappeared. But the pattern was still heel biased (although moving
more central). I gave her a task. How many shots can she hit from the toe? No
information on how, or what body parts to move in which way. A simple task. This is DIFFERENTIAL PRACTICE
few balls, she was flushing almost every one. Unfortunately, she didn’t achieve
her goal to move the pattern more toe biased, but it didn’t matter too much to
her. She was jumping around thinking I was some kind of magician as she had
never hit it so consistent. Whilst I don’t generally like these overly excited
reactions (the only way from there is down as the expectations go too high), it
was simply another example of where simplicity really matters.
start to self organise. She improved her set up, even her posture and backswing
looked more athletic. And I didn’t have to say a word. But something more
important was happening. Something beyond the technical, and something more
than you can see.
how to control the ball directly. She was building co-ordination. She was
thinking externally. She was building her own GOLFER’S TOOLBOX to manage her
Broken and fixed
this word implies that if something is broken, it can be permanently fixed.
Well, whilst it is true that there are certain technical things which can
greatly improve your odds of making effective contact with the ball, you will
never EVER master them.
that has ever or will ever master golf. No one will ever be able to 100% master
getting that club on the ball in an effective way. Even the top pros, who
practice up to 12 hours a day for over 20 years, only get it even to the “effective
enough” stage just over half of the time. That’s right, pros only hit the
fairway around 60% and green in reg around 60% too.
Fixing your game should really be worded to ‘managing your game’. Managing your
mistakes in terms of course management, playing percentage shots, ADJUSTED TARGETING and having your own TOOLBOX of fixes for impact faults.
awareness of what the fault was in its most basic form. From there, we can
expand out into managing that fault. The process is
a ground strike issue, a face strike issue, or a clubface/path issue, or a
be internal, external etc
going left, weakening my left hand will provide a big change to the pattern. Weakening my right hand provides a
smaller, more manageable change to the pattern.
heightened state of concentration/ awareness of what is happening.
to do. Everybody has their own process for this, but often people are poor at
number 1. For example, a player may
slice the ball and have a couple of fixes they use. But without identifying
that the fault is a clubface open to the path, they are just like our blind
your player understands the fault they are doing in terms of club/ball
interaction. DO NOT take for granted that your player will know this. I have
come across countless shankers who know what a shank shot looks like, yet are
amazed when they actually are told where the ball is hitting on the face.
Take home notes
- The golf swing is very very complex. Impact variables are a
mix of hundreds or even thousands of swing elements, all jostling for position
to create an impact. The brain is very adept at co-ordinating all of these
variables in a way which achieves your goal, but you MUST first identify the
correct goal. This requires awareness of
what is going wrong and what you need to do to correct it as effectively as
- On course repairs require quick fixes often, but I prefer to
think of it as Game Management.
- You can improve someone’s performance and hence technique
without touching it directly.
- Simple awareness
improving drills/exercises can be vitally important for a player to go off and actually
become self-sufficient and coach themselves. This should be a major goal of every
player and coach.