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Friday, July 7, 2017

The Question of Self-Taught Swings

There's a fascinating article over at the Golf Digest site simply called Do It Yourself: Swings. And it has this provocative subtitle: Even instructors agree, the best players are often self-taught.

This strikes me as an amazing statement, given the constant stress being placed on drills and stats and biomechanical measurements. But perhaps this article represents a realization by some of the teaching fraternity that we're getting too caught up in the quest for perfection.

Photo from DIY: Swings article

And yes, the emphasis of this article seems to be on finding the way you swing most naturally. Logically, the more natural your swing feels, the more consistent it should be over time. Is that what really happens? It still depends on whether your swing is basically sound or not. After all, if you continue to work against the laws of the natural world, your swing is never going to be all that great!

The article, which is a reasonably complete beginner's guide to finding your own way, has advice from folks like Bubba Watson and Jim Herman, like this quote:
Keep it about outcome, even in the beginning. "Everyone should be thinking about where they want the ball to go while they're standing over a shot, not how or what technique to use to get it there," Herman says.
And Bubba says to focus on the three feet of your swing from just before impact to just after, just as a couple of examples.

That doesn't mean you can't use drills, folks. It just means you should find drills that actually help you. If you're just doing drills to say you're doing drills, that's not going to do your swing any good.

There are also some tips from instructors, as well as some warnings. You can screw your swing up pretty badly if you aren't careful, so they remind you that you can always seek help from instructors if you get stuck. But if you wait too long to get help, it can take quite a while to fix your errors.

I point out this article because it's a pretty useful one. It gives you some solid guidance on how to start maintaining your own swing if you are so inclined, as well as pointing out the potential might run into. If you want to go this route, those are all things you need to know.

I maintain my own swing; I know where I'm most likely to go wrong; I know what I need to work on. But I also began with some solid instruction that I knew worked for me, and I've held firmly to those fundamentals throughout my experimentation to improve my swing. Because of that, even though I've had periods when I struggled while making a change -- change is rarely easy and it takes time, after all -- it's been years since I felt lost. All of my experimentation is based on knowledge of how I swing best, so my fundamentals stay intact.

If you decide to go your own way, just be sure you know where you're starting from. Because I can tell you this from experience: The reason I was able to try things was that I knew what I couldn't change if I wanted to keep making contact with the ball!

Or, to put it another way... you can't get there from here unless you know where "here" is. Take the time to learn that first, and you should be okay. But if you need a coach to keep your swing on track, that's okay too. If that's where your "here" is, there's no shame in acting on it.

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