Time and time again, I see golfers who have the potential to be much better than they currently are, but they are held back by something. And it is something which can be destroyed in a few minutes.
I see slicers
Typically, I see players with directional problems, usually with one miss – for example, they may be hitting 60% of their shots to the right.
They may even complain that they have struggled with slicing all of their golfing life. Then I ask them a simple question;
can you hit it left?
Then I get them to hit ten balls as far left as they can – any way they want.
In 99% of cases, they can do it.
We then go through a progression where they hit the ball different directions and in different amounts. This inevitably improves their ability to then hit the ball onto their target.
I have started asking pupils this question
So, if you already had the ability to hit the ball more to the left, why did you struggle with your slice for 25 years?
The answer I have had is consistent – and shocking. In most cases they say
Because I want to do it the RIGHT WAY
So, this person/these people have been holding themselves back all these years because they have this preconceived notion that you must do it in a certain way. I have discussed at length in my article on Myths of Golf that there is more than one way to skin this cat.
I feel your pain
Don’t get me wrong, I understand exactly where these golfers are coming from – I used to be one.
As a recovering perfectionist and textbook-orexic, I too used to struggle with the notion of doing things ‘correctly’. As an example, I tried for many years to make a squarer swing path with a certain looking backswing which fit the mold of textbook instruction – taking it back online, setting it on a certain plane etc. But my body just wanted to drop the hands behind me and swing massively from the inside and hit a hook/block.
Now, if you asked me to get the club moving squarer through impact, I could do it in a second – but I would have to take the club massively outside-the-line in order to do it.
I could even get great performance with this swing, I could hit the ball pure and straight, but I didn’t want to do it because it wasn’t “the right way”.
So what happened? Eventually, through reading enough about motor learning, I just decided to do my funky “outside-the-line” swing and continue with that – and I have never looked back. I now strike the ball as well as anyone can, although with a less than textbook swing
To play good golf more often, you have to be adaptable too.
You are a different person from day to day, and even mid round your perceptions of things can change. That’s why you can be going along nicely and then, all of a sudden, a slice creeps in. If you are bound up by “I have to continue to do things the perfect way”, you may struggle to get the ball around the course.
It’s not uncommon for me to play with a face which is set up more open one day if my ball is drawing too much, or to use a stronger grip position if I am hitting blocks/fades. This adaptability allows me to constantly calibrate the ball flight to how I want it, and ensures that I never struggle with an issue for too long.
However, I remember as a kid being bound by the rule (actually, where is it in the rule books?) which says “you have to align your club face towards the target”. Oh to be freed from the shackles of textbook-orexia.
The wrong message
The wrong message to take from all of this is that technique, or how you do IT doesn’t matter. It does.
There are techniques which offer bigger margins for error. There are techniques which can offer more power. There are techniques which can demand less of your skill. Technique still counts, and I work on it every day with my pupils.
The right message
However, if your obsession with doing IT the right way prevents you/distracts you from doing IT, then you are shooting yourself in the foot. There is a time and a place to work on more effective/efficient ways to do IT.
When it comes to performing, how you do something should never preside over doing IT”
And ultimately, while there may be theoretical ways which are more optimal technically, everyone’s ‘optimal’ will be different. Every golfer brings their own constraints to the table, whether that be physical, conceptual, or even time constraints (maybe you don’t have the thousands of hours to get your swing looking ‘perfect’).
So, what is IT?
‘IT’ is your ability to get the ball on your intended target. It’s your ability to create a desired end result – and there are many, many ways to do this.
- If playing a fade helps you get the ball onto the target more often, do it.
- If setting up out of the toe of the club helps you strike the sweet spot more often and allows the result to be better, do it
- If setting the club face open at address allows you to control your hook, do it
- If putting the ball a little back in your stance allows you to strike the ball a little cleaner and get better results, do it
There are countless examples of pros on tour doing IT in their own way. Should Furyk change his backswing just because it doesn’t fit the mould? Would Nicklaus have been better if he didn’t fade the ball? Would Spieth be better with a more textbook grip? What about Dustin Johnson?
I know there are people who will scoff at this article, and that is fine – they simply just don’t get IT.
If you want to learn how to be less textbook-orexic and get better at getting the job done, check out my video series, The Strike Plan.
It helps you to improve the biggest problem for average golfers – strike quality. If you suffer with fat shots, thin shots, toe shots or even (dare I say) shanks, this will be change your golf game forever.
Click the image link below to learn more