As a P.G.A. Master Professional I want to share the essence of my discoveries regarding teaching golfers over the last 40 years. In my earnest desire to help people during my late teens and early twenties, I was guilty of causing “Information Overload” in my pupil’s heads! The last thirty years has been spent simplifying the swing for golfers to increase their skill and enjoyment of our great game. In this series of blogs I shall distil the huge subject of understanding and learning golf to its simplest form. Hopefully, I can prevent the reader from the pain of floundering in a “sea of theory”! Here are some key principles on how to impart orthodoxy to a pupil without damaging their instinctive ability to become a successful shot-maker.
TEACH THE SHOT, NOT THE SWING. The whole teaching industry is based on the hugely mistaken premise that the swing controls the golf ball. Consequently, we train young men and women who are Assistant Professionals, to teach the “swing”. We cannot say that the “swing” controls the ball because wonderful, “orthodox” swings can hit bad shots and funky, “unorthodox” swings can hit great shots. If successful golf rests upon the perceived orthodoxy, how come that Jim Furyk is, at the time of writing, world ranked No.4? However, we can say that the “shot” controls the swing. Imagine asking Lee Trevino, a fader of the ball and Gary Player, a drawer of the ball to hit a low, raking draw shot around a tree and onto a green. If they both successfully execute the shot, then both have been obliged to utilise the clubface, shaft and ball in the same way. You cannot buck the laws of physics and ballistics! So, if a pupil is taught how to hit a certain golf shot and they successfully improvise that shot on the basis of correct preparation, a sound, “orthodox” swing is the natural result.
Picture below showing me improvising a “draw” shot around an intermediate target.
IMPART PRINCIPLES RATHER THAN METHOD. If you teach a fixed and rigid method to 100 pupils you will create a hundred “Clones” and damage the instinctive flair of 100 pupils. However, if you impart a “Principle” to a 100 pupils, they can implement that knowledge successfully whilst retaining their individual identity and their naturally varied assets. A “Principle” gives a pupil the key to a box, in which lies another key! The doctrine of a rigid method gives a pupil the key to a box that is empty.
Luther discussing “principles” with World #1 Coach, Claude “Butch” Harmon
TEACH A “MOVEMENT” NOT A “POSITION”. From the time a Scottish shepherd first struck a round stone with his crook, the golf swing has been a “movement”. It only became described as a “position” when someone took a photograph of that movement. The concept of studying a “position” in a golf swing and then mimicking that position is one of the greatest wreckers of natural flair and improvisation. Copying a “position” is like someone putting red spots on their face and saying they have measles. No they have not; they merely have the appearance of measles! Over the last 12 or 14 years or so, I have developed the Explanar Golf Training System. The key principle is that by swinging the heavy Power Roller to and fro the pupil acquires the feeling of a fluid swinging motion rather than a series of positions. In the same way we use training wheels to teach balance on a bicycle, Explanar trains the body in a physical way how to swing the club rather than an intellectual one. It turns swing thoughts into swing feelings.
Butch working on “movement” with an Explanar pupil
This series of blogs, of which this is the first, will explain the ideal principles behind the Grip, Posture, Back-swing and Through swing. If you, the reader, understand the central principle behind these disciplines, you will be able to make informed choices regarding your approach to them. Consequently, having cleared your mind of a vast “sea” of choice you can then put your energies towards hitting a successful shot. In other words, let me worry about your golf swing while you hit the shot!
THE GRIP – OPTIMUM PRINCIPLE & PRACTICAL CHOICE.