The Swing, The Body, The Grind
One of the most common themes that has cropped up among my students recently is why some people advance faster at this game than others. In my opinion there is so many variables in golf, it is not only how you hit the ball, but also the ability to move your body and also should things not be going well the ability to get the golf ball around the course at all costs.
The Golf Skills
The first thing people will always jump to fix after a bad round of golf is the skills or the mechanics of the golf swing. Without doubt this is definitely one of the most important things for a player to improve. Bad mechanics will without doubt make it significantly harder to succeed at this game so without them you most likely will get quite frustrated with your game at some point. Transferring those skills from practice to the golf course can often be the hard part. When we leave the comfort of the practice area and take that leap of faith to the golf course it can be scary, intimidating and simply difficult to transfer those skills to the golf course. For me two things can often help this transfer of skills. Firstly incorporating competitive practice into your range time is essential. Giving yourself a certain number of balls to hit to a certain target and keeping score will definitely help add pressure to your practice and in turn make it a far easier transition to move to the golf course. Secondly I would always try to have a simple feeling going to the course in my practice swing. Most people will generally have 10 different thoughts as they stand over the shot and it is simply impossible to comprehend all of these things in that split second a golf swing takes. I always try to incorporate some sort of feeling into my practice swing, and over the golf ball I will just try to simply hit it with a similar sensation.
Understanding the importance of how a player actually moves their body has without doubt been one of the biggest impacts on how I would teach the game since I began. Since TPI (The Titleist Performance Institute) began educating golf professionals on the importance of a functioning body it has had an astounding impact on the golf industry as a whole. TPI’s Philosophy is “there is not one way to swing the golf club, rather there is an Infinite number of styles. But we do believe there is one efficient way for every player to swing and it is based on what the player can physically do”. To put this in layman’s terms, why would I try to teach you Rory Mcilroy’s swing, if your body cannot move in the same way as Rory. Almost every new client we have come to the golf school will have a 10 minute physical evaluation before they pick up a golf club.
For us as coaches this makes our job much easier as it allows us to see what the player can physically do, if we find a body limitation we know immediately that either the limitation needs to be fixed, or we will have to work around it. By knowing this we will not waste any time during a lesson trying to get the player to do something they physically cannot.
For me the final piece of the puzzle is being patient and mentally tough enough to get a score even when you are not playing at your best. Golf is a funny game, you can be top of the world one minute and struggling the next, for some people it can change that drastically between their last shot on the range and their first shot on the golf course. However what really good golfers will always do is stay patient even if things are not going their way. You have 18 holes in a round, you are bound to get a couple of bad ones at some point, but what you need to do is get through them without making a cricket score, don’t go after the birdies just allow them to come to you, and if all else fails just keep grinding to save every shot no matter how frustrating it is. One event I will never forget is the 2008 US Open which came down to an 18 hole playoff between Rocco Mediate and an injured Tiger woods. At the time you could not get two golfers further apart in terms of how they play the game. Tiger known for overpowering golf courses even though he was struggling to hit fairways, meanwhile Rocco was a short but exceptionally consistent and straight hitter. On that day they both lived up to their stereo types. Woods hit it into every corner of the golf course that day meanwhile Rocco just kept it down the middle, but no matter what Tiger would not let go, whether it meant hitting draws and fades around trees or holing an outrageous put on 18. Tigers grind and determination prevailed and he came out victorious in the end. But he just showed it is not how pretty it looked, it was the score they had written on the cards at the 91st hole.