Thursday, March 18, 2010

Chamblee Misses The Target, Again...

There was a small article over at Golf Magazine by Brandel Chamblee that drew a lot of praise from golfers. You can find it HERE
Bobby Jones, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Lee Trevino and Seve Ballesteros all won majors in their 20s. You could argue that they were golf geniuses, and that's true, but what's more important is that their genius was nurtured, not squelched. All five had unique swings, the first three overseen by teachers who allowed them to retain their individuality, while the latter two were self-taught, letting the flight of the ball instruct them.

Imagine if these great champs had been told to swing on a prescribed plane and grew up looking for evidence of their success or failure in that regard by watching video. Imagine if they had jumped from instructor to instructor looking for a system that would give them complete control of the golf ball and how never finding that secret would kill their confidence.

Not one current player under 30 has won a major. Why? Some of the blame goes to Tiger Woods, a genius himself who has taken a large portion of recent majors and intimidated many contenders. But mostly I think it is the teachers who rely on video in an effort to bring order out of the chaos of golf.

There are a lot of great teachers out there, but too many have their players caught up in a never-ending quest to perfect what can't be perfected, and in the process those players lose their instincts and confidence. Throw the camera away! Stick to fundamentals.
The writing of this article didn't really surprise me. Chamblee and the Stack and Tilt teachers have a grudge against each other. But the biggest reason this doesn't surprise me is with the recent success of Ricky Fowler.

Fowler has a bit of an unorthodox golf swing and has done well so far in his young pro career. He mentioned that he doesn't work with a video camera and basically tries to work off what the ball flight is telling him.

In my experience stuff like this happens all of the time. A new Tour golfer with an unorthodox swing comes out and starts playing well and then everybody starts claiming that the golf swing should just happen 'naturally' and thru hitting a ton of golf balls and working on the 'fundamentals.'

Happens all of the time. Happened when Furyk came out. Happened when Azinger was playing well. Same with Kenny Perry.

Of course, the 'fundamentals' for most people mean the grip, tempo and address position. And believe me, this is what Brandel Chamblee thinks are the fundamentals as well.

Furyk used a double overlap grip. Azinger may have had the strongest grip in PGA Tour history. So, I'm not really sure if they meet critics and analyst's 'fundamentals.' Yet, they keep preaching these fundamentals even though these 'natural' golfers are at different extremes.

I contend that the problem is not the video camera or even Trackman (or the 6-degree 3D motion analysis machines), but the actual teacher.

Studies and research have shown the power that the video camera can provide to people trying to learn something. I should know, I was part of a research project in college that studied this exact subject. The results were quite impressive and clearly show the overwhelming majority of people learn better and faster thru visual learning methods like using a camcorder.

I believe the same can apply for learning thru Trackman as well. Here's a great video by Brian Manzella showing how one can learn while using Trackman.

That doesn't seem too hard to me. I think people get a bit intimidated by the Trackman technology and the numbers being spit out, but the reality is that Trackman is about helping a golfer find the right FEEL for THEM and then ingraining that feel. And doing it very quickly.

So all that 'natural' golf instruction can be done much more efficiently by using a camcorder and/or Trackman. It just depends on having the teaching to do it.

The big problem is that if you're being taught the wrong things or things that are flawed, you'll just learn that flawed instruction more quickly thru a camcorder or Trackman.

The other great claim is to 'teach yourself by looking at the ball flight.' While it's a nice concept, as Manzella points out there are many problems with that.

In the July 2009 Trackman Newsletter, page 3 shows the effect that even the slightest off center hit can have on the golf ball.

Shots missed by ONE DIMPLE from the sweetspot can cause a ball to go offline by about 3 yards for a 170 yard shot with a 6-iron and 10 yards with a 250 yard driver.

The important part to note is that missing by one dimple can still feel like a good strike to the golfer. Trackman helps eliminate this. But just by judging the ball flight without any help can present problems.

In the end, the golf swing is a very complex motion and trying to make it so simple usually doesn't work for everybody. Doctor's use MRI all of the time to diagnose problems. But if they don't know what they are doing, then they can hurt the patient. The MRI isn't the problem the doctor is. The same holds true with the golf swing and camcorders/Trackman.



Anonymous said...

This was really excellent. I grow tired of the "Bagger Vance" school of golf instruction, even if as charming as Chamblee.

Anonymous said...

A great article by Brandel, he hit the nail right on the head. Truer words have never been spoken.

Rich H. said...

I disagree Milos. If Chamblee was talking about the real fundamentals of the swing which is impact, then I would agree with him. But I would bet that his fundamentals are address, grip and tempo. I've got a friend who has a textbook grip and address positiona and can't come close to breaking 80.

I do agree with Brandel that there are too many golfers that are trying to swing a certain way when it doesn't help them. But, the camcorder isn't the problem...the teaching is.


Anonymous said...

Everybody has their own set of fundamentals that work for them. If your grip is strong there are other components of the swing that make it work. Fowler has a very weak grip, but he makes other moves in his swing that make his swing work for him. Do you think Hogan knew anything about ballflight laws?


Anonymous said...

I guarantee you Hogan understood the ball-flight rules, at least approximately.

Rich H. said...

Yes, I think Hogan knew the ballflight laws or figured them out to a degree. There was a story once about how Hogan was on the range and he hit a few pulls in a row. He then stopped, went into his little office for a couple of hours. Then came out and went back to hitting it like he always did. He was then asked what he thought the problem was and he said he determined that the clubface must be closed to pull the ball.

His stance diagram in 5 Lessons is right in line with what D-Plane pretty much prescribes.

Anonymous said...

i surely love your writing type, very remarkable.
don't give up as well as keep creating considering the fact that it just simply truly worth to read it.
looking forward to find out much more of your own article content, cheers!

Anonymous said...

bless you, nice web site
the simple way to create blog posts that will smash in people: