I thought about this question for some time before putting my thoughts on paper. Like many of my readers, I glean much of my instructional information from a variety to teachers (notice I did not say coach – two totally different beasts). I read, watch, experiment and then discard many tips and hints over the course of a year. For a tip to take hold in my game, I use three basic factors that will stand the test of time. These ‘golden rules’ help me sift through the plethora of white noise out in cyberspace.
Before outlining my three fundamental rules, I want to digress a bit. Today’s topic was sparked by an article I read about Gareth Raflewski, in a Globe and Mail article, who is one of the most coveted short-game guru on the LPGA Tour. He, like other teachers such as Butch Harmon, David Leadbetter, Hank Haney and Dr. Bob Rotella, has a proven track record for success. There are many great golf instructors out there, but unfortunately, there are many knock-offs as well. That is why I need a process to sift through the minutia of golf tips that are just a rehash of something someone heard.
My approach to golf tips is very simple. I follow the following three questions without fail if I am going to adopt or attempt to adopt a golf tip. In order of importance:
- Am I physically capable to perform the tip? This might seem like a silly first rule, but let me tell you it saves a great deal of time. I understand my limitations, both physical and mental, and realized several years back that there is no sense trying to adopt a tip if I am not physically capable.
- For example, trying to add more distance my creating more torque differential between my hips and shoulders. Well, I can only twist so much and therefore, trying to twist more only messed up my balance and tempo.
- Having said this, I can train to improve my flexibility to accomplish some of this tip, but I will never hit the ball like the young superstars of golf, so I need to find tips I can physically achieve before committing any time to trying them.
- Will the tip actually improve my game? Again, a pretty basic question that focuses on our game only. Just because the tip help someone else does not mean it will help you. We all have strong aspects of our golf game. To that end, we also have challenges. If I am going to adopt a tip, I am going to spend my precious time on areas that need the most improvement.
- In my case, it is the long irons and chipping. So, when I look for tips I focus on these areas because that is where I will see the greatest gains.
- I still will look at tips for putting and increasing club distances, but the tip will have to be very good for me to take the time to practice.
- How will this tip affect my current swing in the short and long term? Making any change will create a domino effect on your game. I have experienced this many times and had to reset my game to eliminate a poor tip choice. Other things I ask are: how will my game suffer in the short term for long term success? Am I ready to commit the time and effort to make the change? The bigger picture is always in my mind when looking at golf tips.
- For example, adjusting your grip, even slightly, will affect your swing plane, tempo, ball position, and finish. There is no such thing, in my opinion, as a minor change.
- Brian Penn from All About Golf just completed (although I would suggest it is still ongoing as he refines his success) a two-year overhaul of his golf game. That is a major shift in how he plays, but he felt the short term challenges were worth the long term successes. It was to follow his journey, but it took a great deal of commitment that I would have to measure before attempting that type of change.
Back to my original question, do you have a favourite golf instructor. Personally, I do not. I like to take what works for my game from any source I can find. In this day of instant social media access, there is an infinite number of opportunities to find the right tip for your golf game. The trick is having a process that will allow you to quickly sift through those tips that have zero chance of helping your game.
Do you have a process in which to select a golf tip? Do you take the time to analysis it before heading to the practice facility?
I am a grateful golfer! See you on the links.