Monday, March 26, 2012

The Con of Popular Golf Instruction

If you follow golf swing instruction enough, inevitably you will hear golf swing instructors say the same thing ‘you have to teach the golf swing in simple terms.’ Of course, this will then be utilized as an attack against other instruction like M.O.R.A.D. and The Golfing Machine as being ‘too complex’ and ‘the teachers are trying to prove how smart they are.’

I used to believe this as well. I had a friend of mine, about 6 year older than myself, who was going to an instructor who was very detailed and was not afraid to delve into the complexities of the golf swing. I was a teenager at the time and my friend was explaining some of the instruction and I was a bit baffled by it. Later on, my friend struggled that entire year and I chalked it up as ‘too complex and not simple enough.’


Eventually, my friend wound up going to a TGM instructor where the instruction was still complex and detailed, but discussed terms differently with geometric alignments and terms like ‘sustaining the line of compression’, ‘lag pressure’, ‘drag load’, etc. His game improved from this instruction tremendously. This was when I was in college and I later on went to this same instructor and saw my ballstriking improve as well.

Afterwards, I would still try and listen to ‘simplistic’ instruction or what I like to call ‘Bagger Vance’ instruction. But, it never seemed to really work or work nearly as well as the more complex and detailed TGM instruction. In the end, I started to wonder why I could not improve under ‘simple instruction.’


Eventually, I learned the rest of The Golfing Machine with the help of Ted Fort (www.fortifiedgolf.com). After that was done I eventually moved to Orlando and started to work with George Hunt (www.moradgolfgeorgehunt.com) on my swing using the knowledge he had from his dealings with the M.O.R.A.D. investigation. All along the way, my ballstriking and scores kept improving even though it’s alleged by many that M.O.R.A.D. is the apex of swing complexity.

Also along the way I started to understand things like Trackman, AimPoint for green reading and many other complexities of golf instruction. All of which helped improve certain facets of my game and lower my scores.

Part of my problem with ‘pop golf instruction’ and the claims that golf instruction has to be kept simple is that it does not really differentiate the top instructors who ‘keep it simple’ versus Joe Schmoe the golf pro working out of a driving range. If they have knowledge of the golf swing, than ‘keeping it simple’ is something that just about anybody can do. IMO, it takes less skill to simplify subject matter than it does to understand the complexities of subject matter. To me, I do not think that everybody who understands the complexities of subject matter can simplify it. However, I think most of the time people can simplify things pretty well more than they cannot simplify things.

I believe that swing instruction is much like the golf swing. There is no one way to do it. Not every golfer will have the same swing issues, swing compensations and swing fixes. And not every golfer will need to have every subject in the golf swing simplified.

Something like being laid off or being across the line at the top of the swing can probably be simplified in golf instruction. But, something like a golfer coming ‘over the top’ may take some very thorough and detailed set of golf instruction to fully remove that over the top move from that particular golfer’s swing.


I look at it this way.

Let’s say I got to meet a heart surgeon. And the heart surgeon told me ‘y’know, the one thing I liked about where I interned about becoming a heart surgeon is that the other surgeons taught everything in simple terms and didn’t go into detail at all. They told me that stuff is just too much to learn.’

I think I would hope that I never wind up having to get heart surgery from him.

Obviously, the example is a bit extreme. But, I don’t think anybody can legitimately deny that the golf swing is a very complex motion. Thus, treating everything in simple terms has to be a bit flawed in some senses.

I think the real con of pop golf instruction is that they lure golfers in with all this ‘simple talk’ and drill it into golfer’s heads that it is the ONLY way to learn the golf swing. But, for all of the simple talk…the golfers wind up learning things that are much more difficult to execute or they are flawed or could possibly cause injury or just be completely irrelevant to what it takes for a golfer to consistently hit quality golf shots.

And because of that, the golfer winds up thinking that it is their fault for not grasping ‘simple golf instruction’ and either wind up eschewing golf instruction all together or wind up going back to that ‘simple golf terms’ instructor again.

I also think that part of the con of pop golf instruction is that many instructors who avoid going into detail about their instruction simply don’t quite understand their instruction as they claim. They don’t understand the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of what they are teaching will result in consistently better shots or putts instead of ‘that’s what I want the swing to look like.’

To me, the teacher’s real job is, come hell or high water, to get the student to comprehend the information and be able to eventually implement that into their own game. If that takes some simple terminology, great. But, inevitably there will be times when complex and thorough information is needed.

The key is for the teacher to figure out the method that works best to get the student to fully understand it. Which has always been every teachers job in every profession to begin with. Golf should not be viewed as an exception.






3JACK

4 comments:

NYC Lagster said...

Very Good write up Rich, keep up the good work.

Ralph

Rich H. said...

Thanks, Ralph!




3JACK

mike rooney said...

Rich, as a p.g.a. professional coach with almost 40 years coaching experience across Europe may I just say this is one of the most significant, erudite "COACHING" article's I have had the pleasure of reading, and I've read many,.
My first encounter with T.G.M.was in the late 70s as a young assistant pro in Scotland, I too, in my lack of wisdom, not only dismissed it but criticised it as too complicated.
A few years later, not long after Homers✝death, I was standing in front of Ben being taught how to teach.
I truly believe I have made many thousands of people's lives just a little more enjoyable thanks to Homer Kelley and Ben Doyle.
I also believe you too can make this claim Rich, your commitment and passion for the game is globally appreciated.
Keep up the good work many thanks,
Mike Rooney.

mike rooney said...

Rich, as a p.g.a. professional coach with almost 40 years coaching experience across Europe may I just say this is one of the most significant, erudite "COACHING" article's I have had the pleasure of reading, and I've read many,.
My first encounter with T.G.M.was in the late 70s as a young assistant pro in Scotland, I too, in my lack of wisdom, not only dismissed it but criticised it as too complicated.
A few years later, not long after Homers✝death, I was standing in front of Ben being taught how to teach.
I truly believe I have made many thousands of people's lives just a little more enjoyable thanks to Homer Kelley and Ben Doyle.
I also believe you too can make this claim Rich, your commitment and passion for the game is globally appreciated.
Keep up the good work many thanks,
Mike Rooney.