Sunday, June 27, 2010

New Technology, Teaching and Golf

There was a thread that I was directed to over at the forum we shall not speak of that asked the question of if all of the new technology in instruction and the new instructional terminology is overrated.

This certainly creeps up from time to time as golfers seem to want the following in golf:

1. To buy a golf swing
2. To get the quick and easy fix or tip
3. To have the swing come naturally to them
4. If they hit enough balls, they'll automatically improve

You can't do #1 or #2. As Moe Norman once said 'a man cannot buy a golf swing. He must work for it.' #3 is really rare, but the world seems to think that they can be the next Fred Couples or John Daly, too. And #4 can happen, but the world seems to think that they can be the next Ben Hogan (who sought out several instructors) and Sam Snead.

Most people are not anywhere near like Couples, Daly, Hogan or Snead and need to be given sound instruction, then work really hard at it, then kind of figure some things on their own and then have some good hand-eye coordination and a good mentality JUST TO GET TO SCRATCH. Getting to the level of the PGA Tour is really a different story.

Anyway, these days the technology is really amazing. First, we have far better cameras like the Casio EX-FH25.

This is a far cry from the old days of grabbing the big, clunky camcorder that didn't work well in sunlight, provided grainy footage, had to be on a cassette tape and depending on the camera it could miss a bunch of important frames in the golf swing.

We've talked about Trackman and SAM Puttlab. But I think that they actually demonstrate some very important facets of ballstriking and putting.

With Trackman, we understand not only the laws of ball flight, but we understand that impact is objective. And we understand that there is no one way to swing a club.

With the SAM Puttlab, we can see that stroke is not nearly as important as aim and consistency of the stroke. We also start to see that touch and green reading are big factors into putting and guys like Loren Roberts do not have 'the best putting stroke ever.'

A lot of the 'new terminology' isn't so new. A lot of it comes from Homer Kelley's 'The Golfing Machine', which was written in 1941 and published in 1969. And a lot of it describes things most of us have noticed in the golf swing, but it has never been given a term to describe it.

The problem of course is if the instruction is not good, than all of the latest, greatest pieces of equipment will not help the student much. Most people who are anti-video ignore the studies that have shown how people have increased their leaning time just by viewing themselves on camera. And with the Trackman stuff, at the very least you have hard data that one can take elsewhere to a better instructor to figure things out.

Lastly, the greatest piece of technology we have is the internet. We are no longer confined to your typical golf instruction books and magazines or whomever is teaching in the local area. Now we can grab the thoughts of many brilliant people in golf instruction and use it to our benefit, even getting actual lessons thru the internet. We can read about different swing philosophies, other golfer's experiences, and collaborate with other golfers and instructors to put the best possible information forth to the golfing public.

If it wasn't for the net, I wouldn't be playing as well as I am today and I would't be writing this blog. There's always pitfalls, but for me all of the new technology means better golf if you know how to apply it.


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