It seems like just the other day that I embarked on my teaching career, yet it was almost 20 years ago. As a coach it didn’t take me long to get to a point where I thought I pretty much knew everything there was to know about the golf swing. Oh how things have changed! I remember thinking that one day we will get to a point where there are no more ‘bad’ or unusual looking swings. Ha! Anyone seen Matthew Wolff’s golf swing?
When I first started coaching Mickleson,s backswing would have been too long, Bubba Watson’s feet would have been too active, Jordan Spieth could never be successful with a Chicken Wing, Dustin Johnston,s club face would have been impossibly closed and Jim Furyk – well that just had no chance.
Perhaps it’s my experience speaking, but I believe the golf instruction industry has come a long way in the last two decades. We have made more progress in this time than all the years before. Our eyes have been opened to the uniqueness and intricacy of the golf swing and how there truly are many ways to get the job done. A better understanding of the forces and torques that golfers are exerting on both the ground and the club has opened our eyes to perhaps why the players mentioned above are successful.
Another important revelation over the last two decades, in my opinion, has been the value of skill. Our technique allows us to hit the ball towards the target, but its skill that enables us to adjust the flight, shape, distance and ultimately, the outcome of each unique shot on the course. So many golfers are falsely led to believe that if they simply upgraded their technique/mechanics/swing they would be world-beaters. Technique, no doubt plays a role, but the value of skill can NOT be overlooked. The great Seve Ballesteros is a fabulous example of a golfer that relied more on skill, and heart, than technique…
￼I have also improved my knowledge of how people learn and now know it’s not all about pounding balls and getting your reps in. Sure, you still need to work hard, but you also have to have a better picture of how to effectively take full ownership of your game and accept that to see improvement you need to be patient and find a way to embrace changes and better incorporate them into who you are as a golfer.
Am I there yet as a coach? Do I have all the answers? As an older, more seasoned coach, I never think I know it all anymore. My understanding is significantly better than it was 20 years ago, but I still have much to do. It’s an exciting time to be a coach and a golfer.