Improvement, that’s what we all want. You’ve had your basic handicap for too many years now. You have the same basic problems, or maybe you’ve eliminated one only to replace it with another. Why can’t you (and me) get better?? One word – HABIT.
It finally dawned on me after years, make that decades, of trying to understand how players can get better. More than anything, golf is a game of habit. We are not naturally inclined to hit a golf ball, it’s not in our DNA. You have to learn how to swing and – no surprise – it’s complex! If you don’t think so, just look at how much has been written about golf instruction. I’d wager that golf ‘how to’ books and articles top any other sport instruction by a factor of 100.
Let’s take the best player of the last decade – Tiger Woods. He knows how to play the game. He didn’t lose his swing a couple of years ago. He had to give it up because his old swing couldn’t work with his torn up body. He was forced to find a new way to hit the ball – to change his HABITS. For the last 2 years every golf writer in the world has asked him why it’s taking so long and he gives the same answer every time – ‘it’s incredibly hard to break old habits when you’re under pressure’. And there is the answer to our own problems as golfers, we’ve got to break our bad habits.
The vast majority of us learn the game with virtually no instruction. You get some clubs, go out with family or friends, and start wacking away. You quickly find out that the game is not easy so you begin your quest to learn. Let’s stop right there, because you’ve already developed a bunch of bad habits by this point. You will now spend eternity trying to unlearn everything you do wrong.
You’ll take some lessons, see a little improvement, but eventually it won’t last. The same happens with the magazines and books you read. Today you try this tip and tomorrow another, but you don’t really get better. You’ll finally give up, figure your golf game will never improve and just play on without hope of getting to the next level. And here’s the reason this scenario is all too familiar – we don’t practice enough (correct practice) to break old habits and build new ones.
The title of the blog promised some help so here it is:
1)You’ve got to understand the basic fundamentals of the game, the mechanics of shot making it you will. This gives you a reference point that is essential. Out of the 10,000 tips that are out there, you need to parse it down to a dozen or so fundamentals that relate to what’s been discovered about the physics of the golf swing. In recent years, super high speed cameras and sophisticated launch monitors have helped researchers uncover what really happens in a good golf swing. Without this knowledge you will be forever wandering in the wilderness. You’ll practice things that are wrong and try to eliminate parts of your swing that are correct.
2) You’ve got to practice the correct fundamentals until they become HABIT! Each basic move has to be practiced over and over or it won’t stick. When you start learning a basic move, like the one piece takeaway, work on that only and don’t worry about where the ball goes. You won’t see results until more of the pieces start to fall into place.
Don’t be discouraged. With the internet (and sites like GolfDashBlog) there is lots of free information and video available on every aspect of the game. (Check out Johnny Miller’s 3 tips that Doug posted on this site) Use your noggin and local pro to parse it and uncover the key components that apply to every golfers’ swing. When you’ve discovered one then go watch video of a great pro’s swing to see it in action.
When you can explain ball flight you’ll know you’re getting close. Watch Tour player swings and predict where the ball is going before the announcers tell you. When you start getting it right you’re well on your way. And don’t get sidetracked from the fundamentals by those selling the glitz. The Pros may be searching for 10 more yards on their drives, the rest of us need to ingrain swing basics so we can reproduce them without thinking and then continue to practice them for as long as we play.
We can all get better at this game. It takes consistent and committed practice of fundamentals until they become habit. Believe me, practice isn’t so bad once you start seeing results! If you can’t or won’t practice, then learn to accept the way you play, warts and all, and you can still enjoy yourself immensely on the course. Just don’t get upset when you keep hitting the same bad shots.