You’ve come home from work dead tired. You grab the mail on your way in and notice your new copy of your favorite golfing magazine is in the pile. It puts a slight smile on your face as a picture of you on a couch with an adult beverage suddenly pops into your mind. After getting into your evening uniform (sweats and slippers) you make your way to your favorite reclining device with that drink and a snack in hand to make that vision on the couch a reality. You get all settled with the TV on for background and you finally enter the “Jell Zone” to enjoy that golf magazine and your well-deserved relaxation period.
You go straight to the table of contents to see what is the most interesting article and there it is, swing advice from the winner of the last major tournament. “This is just what I need,” you say to yourself as you flip to the correct page knowing that your club tournament is 2 months away.
The article has one of those swing-sequence photo frames. It has some quotes from other pros. It has a sidebar from the “Top instructor of all time” with his ideas of the perfect swing. The second page of the article is dwarfed by an advertisement for the greatest swing gadget ever created by a human and endorsed by sixteen instruction schools in five countries. The author talks about how he “remade” his swing prior to winning that major but that his best buddy on tour is struggling using the same method and swing guru.
The captions on each of the swing-sequence photos point out the minute details of where parts of the body of the pro are at 10 different positions during the swing and which of those are “technically not correct”.
You don’t want to give up on the article, since you really do need the swing advice, so you go to your dressing room mirror and check a couple of your body parts with some of the pictures in the article while attempting to freeze your swing at the same points as the stop-action photos. “I got it!” you tell yourself when you match a couple of these positions and then practice them outside with your real club. You congratulate yourself and then sit back down in your easy chair to get back to the business of relaxing.
A little later in the evening, you flip to the Golf Channel and instead of the usual tournament from 1994 there is a lesson program from a pro instructor. Lo and behold, he teaches that the move you worked so hard on an hour ago was the prevailing instruction of the 1980’s and has since been proven to be “unreliable in competition”.
You jump out of your chair to go check your favorite golf sites about this guy on the show and it seems that he is everywhere when you do a search for him. A couple of articles you land on say he has the best golf instruction this side of the border and a couple more take pride in picking him apart. The instructor’s own website is loaded with testimonials from his students on how well his program worked for them so you keep surfing for further info.
This leads you to golf discussion boards, blogs, ezines, and untold numbers of websites that say that they have the secret to how to swing correctly. 3 hours later, you wake up from your golf web-surfing trance, realize you missed your bedtime an hour ago, and are now more confused than you were when before you opened that magazine in the mail.
You found more advice than your mind can process on a weekend day let alone a day that you had 3 meetings, your best employee quit, and your boss said something like: “?if you can’t (blah blah blah)?. we’ll find someone who will”.
Ok, that story was a bit exaggerated for most people (truth for me), but the point still stands:
There’s just too much instruction and tips on golf out there and we just don’t know what to do with it all!
And worse, you can find a lot of it that is exactly the opposite from one instructor (or pro) to the other. Many of you are well aware of this fact but still get caught up in something seemingly new that gets printed or posted that could potentially be hazardous to your game. And it’s not just us amateurs that get lost in this maze. Sports psychologists make a pretty penny on their touring professionals teaching them how to “Simplify” their swings and thought processes and “Focus” on what works for them.
So, what should we do about this problem? It’s very simple: just realize that more is not better for golf instruction and to continue to read and listen to golf tips with a very discriminating eye. Over the years, I have now come to the realization that most published golf instruction is designed for the better player and that a tip that works for the 5-handicapper could be a waste of time for a 20-handicapper. Not that it isn’t good advice, but the 20-hdcp should stop looking for more advice and start to work on something that will give him the greatest reduction in score for the time spent.
I know, I know, an article in a major magazine about “practicing good alignment” isn’t going to sell many copies even if it is 90% of all amateur golfer’s biggest problem. But the inescapable fact is, if you really wanted to get better at golf, you should read a basic instruction book like Ben Hogan’s “5 lessons The Modern Fundamentals of Golf.” And, only read one section at a time and work on what was taught in that section until it becomes a regular part of your game. And don’t read any further until you don’t have to think about it to do it correctly.
The other way to go is to pick an instructor or trainer and stick with them with a full set of lessons. You will need to actively ignore any other golf instruction that has the slightest hint of conflict with your lessons. If you run into something your instructor hasn’t taught you about, check with him/her. That is why golf lessons are spaced at least a week apart. Spaced repetition has long been known to be how we humans best learn things. It’s also why you can’t remember a darn thing about a subject 2 weeks after cramming for test on it.
Do the same thing with any other golf instruction that you find also. Don’t be tempted to jump ahead to Chapter 10 and see how to play a draw from a downhill slope because that ain’t gonna help you. O.k., I’m sorry to ruin your fun with your favorite golf magazine. So go ahead and give yourself permission to read and enjoy it again so long as you promise to yourself that you will stick to your plan of really trying to improve by working what you’ve learned one item at a time. Now get back to that couch and finish up that unwinding session you started. And since I’m already up, how’s your drink? Can I get you another one?