I was working with one of my members last week and she said, “I need a magic pill I could take that would give me more discipline when I play golf”. This got me thinking, not about coming up with a magic pill, but about what’s the real problem students have in the learning process.
I’ve found this is a huge issue for many other golf coaches out there, as well. Our students struggle with their game till they can’t stand it anymore and resort to asking us for help. They spend their hard earned money for one or more sessions, during which the “light goes on” and they see and feel their swing, how the ball flies further and irons stop quicker. Their “splatter pattern” gets much tighter and even bad shots are going longer and straighter than before. And, all this happens with an easier swing.
So, why doesn’t all this good stuff stick? I’ve gone through stages when I felt I must not be leaving my students with the tools they need to keep the good swings going, or have I given them too many tools? I finish each session with two things to think of – One, Two. A couple of exercises to keep One and Two working, and that’s it. What am I missing?
I was working with a player off the PGA Latin America Tour, the day after my member asked me for the pill, and he said he wasn’t playing badly, but he just couldn’t get comfortable with his swing – like the “wheels could fall off at any time”. His swing looked good but he just didn’t feel comfortable with it.
I asked what he didn’t like about each swing and his comments were, “I held on too much” or “I had a little too much/too little…”, nothing major but it was not the solid shot he wanted. He could still shoot under par but it wasn’t a comfortable swing. I kept asking him why he was holding on too much and not releasing the club freely, why he was not doing what we had previously worked on? After a long pause he said, “I’m ball bound, the ball has taken control of me”! That’s when the “light turned on” for me.
He went on to tell me everything we had previously worked on, the exercises I had given him to use when he practiced and when he was playing. He showed me in slow motion the mechanics we had worked on, and they were perfect. I didn’t say a thing. The light had just turned on for me, and boy was it bright!! And, it turned on for him, too. He said, “I’ve lost my discipline”! Yup, he had!! Just like so many other golfers have.
Most people associate power with contracting muscles, creating tension, expending a lot of effort. Just look at professional tennis. You don’t hear that much grunting in Olympic weightlifting. But, golf is different. The club is made to help you so you don’t have to grunt.
The backswing in golf is like winding up a spring. For a right hander, it creates tension in the left shoulder, back, and outside of the right thigh. This is power! When you’re done winding up, you pull the trigger and release all that tension you have created. You actually relax to hit the ball. That’s why your best shots seem so effortless, because you released tension rather than created tension.
Almost all the players I work with that have previously had some coaching have pretty good mechanics. The problem is they have lost their discipline. If this is you, take some time and fall back on what your golf coach gave you that worked.
If you don’t have a coach…go get one. A good coach will make the game of golf a lot more fun, and a lot easier. Just the “magic pill” you are looking for!
Kim Anders is a PGA Professional residing in Mazatlan, Sinaloa Mexico. You can reach Kim via email at email@example.com.