What Have You Been Working On?

John Stahlschmidt
PGA Director of Instruction
JW Marriott Camelback Golf Club
Scottsdale, AZ

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I learn as much from my clients as hopefully they learn from me. At the beginning of a lesson, I always ask an abundance of questions. It is very important that I understand what the client is trying to do to improve. Unfortunately, often times the ideas that I hear will not provide the necessary tools for improvement. 

Common feedback I receive on a consistent basis is, “I am trying to keep my head down so I don’t top it”, “I am trying to slow down my swing”, or “I am trying to finish my swing to fix my slice.”

I personally believe misinformation or the incorrect information is the single biggest barrier that inhibits golfers from truly seeking lasting improvement.

As I stated in last month’s column, too many golf instructors teach on opinion. The industry is moving away from this method to more of a science backed philosophy. I know we are at the TOUR Academies all across the nation.  So what does this really mean? 

At the TOUR Academy TPC Scottsdale and with our club fitting partner Cool Clubs, we have analyzed how the best players in the world hit a golf ball. More specifically, we can measure how the club head, club face and club shaft move through the impact zone. Are they all exactly the same? No! But, many similarities exist.

So What Have We Learned? For starters, the direction of the club face at impact determines the ball’s starting direction – not the path. This is not my opinion remember. It is simply what our launch monitors teach us. Also, the path the club head swings through impact influences how the ball spins – creating a left to right or a right to left ball flight. Why do think the majority of amateurs slice their driver? It is not because you don’t finish your swing. It happens because the path is too much from out to in…period!!!  

My goal in writing this month’s column is to get you, the reader, to think a bit more about the steps you are taking to organize your swing. If you want to improve and currently are not taking any lessons, I would love to help you. If you are taking lessons and not improving, challenge your instructor to explain how your swing changes will help to be more consistent.

Next time you are at the practice facility beating balls, ask yourself this question, “Is what I am working on creating a more solid strike with a more consistent ball flight?” If the answer is no, perhaps you are heading in the wrong direction. Remember, the clinical definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. I know I have been guilty of insanity back during my playing days.   

John Stahlschmidt is the Head Instructor for the TOUR Academy TPC Scottsdale, Home of the Waste Management Phoenix Open. John has been recognized by Golf Tips magazine as one of the “Top 25”  Instructors in the country. To comment or to schedule a lesson, email John at johnst@touracademy.com.