Friday, July 23, 2010

Play Golf or Play Swing ?

One of the difficult tasks we have at the United States Golf Academy is explaining the difference between the golf swing and playing the game. One of the results of increased media exposure to the game is that people are more aware of golf swings, and the theories behind them, than ever before. When Arnold Palmer was winning everything in the early 60’s about all you would ever hear or read was about his style of play and how it seemed to be different than his competitors, Can you imagine the media’s reaction to Mr. Palmer today. His golf swing would be scrutinized and criticized a million different ways. Never mind how successful he was, the golf swing wasn’t correct. The game is so much more than how you swing a golf club, yet, every poor result is blamed on a bad swing. Here is the real truth. You are much more likely to have a poor result from a bad decision than a bad golf swing. How do I know that to be true? Because I have never met a golfer who has not hit at least one good golf shot in their life. So if the swing has produced a good result why doesn’t it happen more often?

You blame your swing for a poor result and you spend the rest of the day fixing the swing. You slice the ball off the first tee and spend the rest of the day trying to fix the slice, rather than working on how to get around the golf course in the fewest number of shots. Trying to fix the slice is what I would call a bad decision. If you can remember how you hit the slice, at least you can predict the outcome of another tee shot and plan for it. Is it the way you would like to hit the shot? Probably not, but at least you won’t ruin the whole day searching for a new result. There are hundreds of examples of poor decisions that lead to poor results, yet we always blame the swing. Like cutting the corner of a dogleg that requires a distance you can’t normally produce. Swinging harder at an iron shot than you normally would because there is water between you and the green. Hitting your three metal on the second shot to hole because it is the “right thing” to do regardless of how comfortable you are with that club.

The next time you play, just play. Don’t judge, don’t try new stuff, and don’t fix anything. Spend your time and energy finding the fastest route around the golf course that doesn’t require a best ever shot. Aim the club, grip the club, set your feet (in that order!!!) and then swing. Go find it, decide the where and how for the next shot and repeat the action. Play the game rather than analyze the swing. Mr. Palmer will be proud of you.

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