Saturday, April 11, 2009

A Look at the Results of the Latest Poll Question

My latest poll has been completed. I want to thank all of you who voted in the poll as it's always interesting to see what the real golf world is thinking. Please note that I have 2 new polls up. I would greatly appreciate it if you could answer the first one about putting as it would help provide some data to help the average golfer get better, which is my main goal for this blog.

Anyway, let's take a look at the results for the latest poll


Note: I purposedly didn't list David Leadbetter as I was quite certain he would have won the poll in a landslide, rendering the poll useless.

  • Bob Toski - 0 votes
I was a little surprised by this. I think it's been a long time since Toski has been thought of as a top notch teacher by golfers, but he's never been the most popular guy and I thought that may have been able to snare a few votes. I also know Toski is a big critic of the Stack & Tilt method. I do not care for the method, but it's preposterous (IMO) to completely write off the method. I think it more or less takes the right type of player to use the pattern.

  • Jimmy Ballard - 2 votes

Ballard is another teacher who doesn't get the noteriety that he used to get before. I actually got 2 lessons from Ballard and while his swing method 'wasn't for me', I thought he was extremely knowledgeable and likeable guy. And a big part of me feels for him because much of his philosophies and work were completely ripped off from other famous teachers which played a big part in their acquiring fame and they never gave any credit to him. He teaches one type of method though. It's extremely effective for a large percentage of golfers, but since it's one method and is often thought of as 'outdated', that probably was what snared a few votes for him.

Here Ballard explains how to hit a draw with using simple D-Plane principles. He's been doing this long before D-Plane came out.

  • Mac O'Grady - 9 votes
What Mac has working against him is that he's not known for working with high handicappers and beginners. He almost exclusively works with fellow pros. When he was working with Tour pros about 12 years ago, they were not winning. He's also a controversial figure, which probably didn't endear him to some voters. I've heard the Stack & Tilt pattern is one of his patterns he designed for hitting a low short iron shot. Regardless, it's tough to debate his ability to strike the ball and the ballstriking ability of many of the golfers he has taught like Grant Waite and Jodie Mudd.

  • Jim Flick - 10 votes
Jim Flick fame mostly came from being Nicklaus' teacher in the latter years of his career. He then was a popular instructor in golf magazines. As with Toski and Ballard, I think in most voters' minds they don't view him as a big name instructor so they don't think he's overrated. I usually like Flick's swing analysis, but when he does instruction it really leaves me baffled.

  • Rick Smith - 12 votes
I used to be a big Rick Smith fan and used to watch his show on ESPN about 12 years ago religiously. I still think his ideas are somewhat sound and that Mickelson's problem was he wasn't listening to Smith's instruction that well. Phil's best years were under Smith, too. However, now that I understand TGM more I have a more informed opinion of Smith's teachings. I don't think it would be a bad thing to get a lesson from Smith, but I can see it not working out for a lot of people.

  • Mike Bennett/Andy Plummer - 13 votes
Bennett and Plummer are the 'creators' of the Stack and Tilt method. This has drawn the ire of many people in the golfing community, particularly myself. I actually think it's a good, sound method *for some*, but when I see a 15 handicapper trying it out and hearing on their DVD that it's a 'revolution' I just shake my head. And I actually wish it was a true 'revolution' in golf because I could just switch to the method and see my scores drop. And Bennett is from Jordan, NY, not too far from where I am from and I always get a kick out of seeing somebody from upstate NY doing well in the game of golf. But they are too focused on getting people to use the Stack and Tilt method and I think they should have avoided getting Aaron Baddeley into the pattern until he straightened out some of the other flaws in his swing first.

  • Stan Utley - 13 votes
Stan Utley had a meteoric rise in fame after his 'The Art of Putting' book debunked the Straight Back and Straight Thru putting stroke method made famous by Dave Pelz. Utley was a former PGA and Nationwide Tour winner and had access to a lot of touring pros who preferred his arc putting stroke method.

He probably saw his fame shoot too high and too soon in many voters' opinions. I've only skimmed through the book and thought it was okay, but it's too focused on the 'path' and not enough on the angle of the clubface at impact, green reading and touch/speed. And personally he's not even in the same galaxy as Geoff Mangum when it comes to understanding and teaching putting.

  • Dean Reinmuth - 13 votes
Reinmuth used to be Phil Mickelson's teacher and I think it shows as I've been a huge critic of his teaching after reading his 'Tension Free Golf' book which was roughly a book of filler and stuff that a 10 handicapper would teach somebody. I get the feeling the voters were thinking the same thing.

  • Peter Kostis - 14 votes
I don't think Kostis is thought of as an 'instructor to the stars' anymore as well. His 'big time' student is Paul Casey who has a great swing and is a major talent. But he's on CBS almost every weekend and they always ask for his analysis of a golf swing and at best he's on the right track, but with some errors on some things and at his worst he is absurdly off in his analysis. This in particular was brutal to watch.

  • Jim McLean - 18 votes
McLean knows a lot about the golf swing and I'm pretty sure he knows TGM quite well. However, he seems to stray away from TGM basics in favor of very simple instruction, but stuff that really doesn't scratch below the surface which I feel would help average golfers greatly improve. He also is the creator of the 'X-Factor' which many teachers have disproved, like Shawn Clement.

  • Hank Haney - 27 votes
This didn't surprise me because anytime you're near the top you're going to have your fair share of detractors. Haney doesn't have nearly the tour pro students as some of the other instructors have in this poll, but he does have the big fish in Tiger. However, in the next day or two I will post a statistical study on Tiger's driving ability and let you be the judge on just how well Tiger has been driving the ball over the past few years.

  • Butch Harmon - 36 votes
Another result that didn't surprise me because not only did Harmon teach Tiger, but he's ranked by Golf Digest as the #1 golf instructor in the world. He also is the guy that all of the big names seem to go to him, like Els, Couples, Olazabal, Gulbis, etc.

I think Phil's swing has steadily improved and he seems to listen to Butch which I don't think was always the case. That being said, I do get a kick out of every Butch interview he'll say that 'there's no one way to swing a club' and even claim that TGM is a 'method' and then he'll go and teach one type of method.


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