The golf swing has evolved over time. Swing theories taught to golfers have progressed from generation to generation for a couple of different reasons. One major cause is the equipment. Hitting a golf ball with a hickory-shafted driver is much different than doing it with a graphite shaft and titanium head. Therefore, instructors have had to make changes in how they teach the game.
But it’s been almost 100 years since hickory shafts were regularly used, so there probably aren’t any amateur golfers struggling to make that switch. Titanium was first introduced to drivers about 30 years ago. There might be some golfers just now updating their clubs to that “new” technology, but that’s a very small minority.
The other reason swing theories change is the evolution of how the game is played. For example, in recent years, there’s been a bigger emphasis on driving distance (at least for the pros), which has made hitting a fairway less important. The pros would rather hit it far, land in the rough and have a shorter club into the green than laying back, hitting the fairway and needing more club on the approach.
So, why does this all matter? Well, if you haven’t had a lesson in a while and haven’t kept up to date on newer methods, you might be subscribing to an outdated approach to the golf swing and might benefit from a more modern viewpoint.
The modern game is much more specific to an individual’s game than ever before. When players such as Tiger Woods came on the scene, everyone wanted to have a swing like him. He’s big, athletic and fast, but that’s not possible for every golfer. Like I said, distance is also emphasized more than ever, but again, not every amateur golfer has the ability to hit the ball 300 yards. Instead of asking students of the game to chase distance, coaches are customizing their teaching to fit the student’s strengths and potential.
An instructor can look at your game and help you construct an approach that will lower your scores the quickest. Trying to make your game look like Rory McIlroy’s isn’t a smart idea. Sure, it’d be nice to hit your driver a mile, knock long irons close, wedges even closer and lag putt out of your mind, but that’s probably not realistic. It’s important to have goals that are realistic in order to reach your fullest potential. Unrealistic goals just lead to frustration and limit improvement.
Instead, maybe you have the potential to become an excellent wedge player, but your driver distance is lacking. A coach will be able to help you manage the driver and build up the wedges to be elite. You might hit it shorter but straight and trust that a missed green with a long iron isn’t going to lead to bogey because your wedges can save you.
Take Scottie Scheffler, for example. His swing isn’t perfect, but he spent much of last year as the top-ranked player in the world.
The modern game is all about finding your identity as a player and not trying to be someone you’re not. If you don’t have much time to practice, maybe it makes sense to spend most of your time practicing one area of your game that’ll translate to lower scores more quickly than random, unfocused training.
Take Scottie Scheffler, for example. His swing isn’t perfect, but he spent much of last year as the top-ranked player in the world. His coaches haven’t tried to change his swing to make it look more like the stereotypical ideal swing. Instead, they recognized that some of the unusual parts of Scottie’s swing weren’t hurting his game at all. They built up his ability to consistently repeat his swing instead of forcing him to swing in a way that wasn’t natural to him.
We’ve all played with those golfers who like to give unsolicited tips. They typically notice how your swing looks weird or different and suggest you change it. They often tell you to change things about your swing because they once heard someone somewhere say they needed to do that. But that advice wasn’t meant for you. There’s no need to change something that’s not an issue. Ever heard the saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”? That ought to apply to the golf swing too.
The modern golf coach isn’t going to change your swing to force it to look like Tiger’s. Instead, they’ll only change the things that absolutely need to be changed. Every person is different. Every golfer is different. Every golf swing is different — and that’s ok.
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