Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The First School of Golf

Tuesday night was the first broadcast of School of Golf, the new Golf Channel instructional show featuring Martin Hall. Hall won TGC's Instructor Search Contest, which turned out to be a bit more controversial than I think they expected it to be. Still, Hall is a knowledgeable teacher who can list Morgan Pressel as one of his successful students, so I was interested to see what his show would be like. Consider this my review.

Since TGC chose to have Michael Breed co-host the first show, it's hard to say exactly how Martin Hall will do as a host. I suspect they made that decision for two reasons -- Breed is both a successful host and a familiar figure to viewers, and Hall is not used to hosting his own show. It's probably their idea of "on-the-job training." But Hall has done "one-offs" for them before, so it's not like he has to get used to the camera. Once he gets used to the week in / week out routine of doing a show, I think he'll do fine as a host.

The show itself is loosely patterned on a school motif. My own favorite section is, not surprisingly, "Martin's Library," where Hall pulls an idea from some of the books and DVDs he owns. For example, he drew an example from Annika's book Golf Annika's Way where Annika says she feels she is keeping her right arm straight for much of her backswing. This, as Hall pointed out, helps her get extension in her backswing and helps keep her left arm straight without making it rigid.

I was also happy to see that Hall apparently intends to challenge some currently popular swing ideas. In one section he attacked the idea that most players are decelerating the club during short game shots; rather, they are actually swinging too fast and interfering with the natural action of the club. Trying to "accelerate through the shot" will prevent you from solving the problem because it's been misidentified. He advocated using a pendulum to help gain a feel for the proper swing rhythm and accurately advised trying to make what feels like a steady-speed swing.

Gravity affects all of our movements, and gravity is a steady acceleration; therefore proper acceleration actually feels like a steady speed to most of us. I've mentioned this from time to time in this blog (and devoted an entire section to it in my putting book) because it's a personal thing for me -- you can't get better if you misunderstand the problem. The fact that Hall chose to attack this common myth on his first show tells me that School of Golf may turn out to be a cutting-edge show for TGC.

All-in-all, I think the show has promise. I'll be interested to see what Martin Hall does next week, when he has the show all to himself.

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