The golf swing is an art. Shot making requires rhythm and tempo, feel, and above all imagination. There is no definitive universally accepted thing as a “perfect” swing. The objective of the swing is to propel the ball using the golf club controlling velocity, distance, height, and spin. In other words we are aiming to hit the ball and control its flight. When we learn how to swing a club we are often introduced to a basic concept. We then hit balls in a trial and error method observing cause and effect in an effort to become more proficient at controlling the ball. There are many great players who have learned to do this in a highly effective manner. Amongst these elite players we can observe a wide range of styles and techniques, but we can also see certain patterns and traits common to all these great ball strikers. It stands to reason that if these elements can be incorporated into less effective swings those players will improve.
Expert players can be very insightful and great instructors. The difficulty is that there is often a pronounced difference between “feel” and “real”. I.e. what the elite player believes they are doing is not really happening. Also the majority of players who fall into this category learn the game at a very young age. The swing has become so ingrained and automatic they are simply unable describe the actions explicitly. Fortunately, improvements in camera technology, 3D imaging systems, and launch monitors afford us the opportunity to examine every aspect of the swing in minute detail. Data derived from these systems informs current theory and has exposed a number of previously held misconceptions. That said, the traditional wisdom disseminated by teachers and instructors has a lot of value. That is because people are not machines. In order to match an elite player’s pattern we often have to move in way which is completely counter intuitive. There is a lot of truth to the saying that golf is a “game of opposites”. That is why we need students of the game that analyse the swings of the greats or interpret the data those swings produce. Teachers then have the chance explain and demonstrate the “feel” of these movements to the average player.
Improving one’s game should be easier than ever. Local professionals around the world have powerful technology on which to record and analyse. We all have smartphones and tablets that are able to capture our swings in super slow motion. We can then compare ourselves with pros using widely available applications. There is wealth of information available at our fingertips; in particular there are masses of instructional videos available on YouTube (amongst over providers). The difficulty is knowing which information or instruction will be helpful to you. Go and see your local certified professional many would say… but PGA (professional golf association) qualifications are no assurance of good advice or tutelage. Put simply there are some great pros, some average, and some very poor practitioners. The more you can learn about the fundamentals and mechanics of the swing the more chance you will have of improving your own game. Effectively becoming your own teacher.