Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Robots and Humans

By a show of hands, how many of you out there think you have a bad golf swing? Most of you, right? The funny thing is that if the truth were told the majority of the golf swings we see are pretty good, especially when there is no ball to strike. We often video practice swings to show players their potential and they are shocked to see that swing compared to the one with a ball. The problems with ball striking come from preparation, posture and ball position relative to that posture and not the esthetic quality of your swing.

To help you understand, try to envision the following. I have a robot that makes a technically perfect golf swing every time. All I have to do is switch on the machine. I have a customer that would like to see the machine in action. I would love to show him except I need about 30-45 minutes to set up the machine and get the ball in the appropriate position. It has to be positioned at the exact bottom of the arc of the swing, the club has to be positioned with the exact orientation to the machine and the machine must be pointed exactly in the right direction. On second thought you had better give me about 90 minutes to set up… for one shot! If want to see shots with different clubs I will need an hour each time I change. A round of golf with the robot would take about 2 days. If I have the ball out of position even the slightest amount the quality of the shot is just as poor as you would expect.

The difference in humans and robots is that humans can react to a bad ball position. In fact, good hand eye co-ordination will often mask poor preparation and cause a player to look to the wrong areas for improvement in their swing. Trying to alter path and direction by using your hands only is a favorite. You see this a great deal with players that have excessive curvature of the ball in flight. They react to a bad ball position by creating a adjusted path by swinging the hands independently of your alignment. The favorite is to aim left with the body and then try to swing the club more to the inside with the hands. At best a swing like this depends on extremely accurate timing. The keys to accurate ball striking are to have clubs that fit, have my body aligned properly to the path I would like the ball to travel, and a use swing that is proactive and not reactive. One that is in balance and working in the same direction as the body is pointed. Just like the robot.

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