Teed Off (19-08-2012)
with Robert Bicknell
Well, it seems Lee Westwood is the latest borderline superstar to sack his caddie and coach. Whenever they lose, someone else always get's the axe, instead of putting the blame where it belongs – on the player himself.
Tiger Woods went through Butch Harmon, Hank Haney and is now working with Sean Foley (who will probably be gone before the year is out). Nick Faldo was the first to help elevate a coach to "guru" status through his work with David Ledbetter.
Greg Norman had great success with Butch Harmon before making a poor decision in switching to Ledbetter and finding himself on the express elevator to Hell.
What struck me as a bit bizarre about Westwood's situation are the comments where people said he felt he could not practice properly if his coach was not there to tell him what he was doing wrong. Excuse me, but even during practice? Does the coach hold his hand on the way to the bathroom too?
All of this leads me to believe that Tour professionals have become jackasses who cannot think for themselves. Tour pros have always been mental cases, but this tips the scale even more.
Fact: The best golf swings have always been the ones which come naturally because they are easily repeatable.
If you have to learn a complicated set of movements from someone else and beat yourself to death trying to master and retain them, that swing style is not in your best long term interests.
It seems more and more than Tour Professionals are becoming incapable of correcting themselves and require someone else to tell them what to do. This shows the difference between the pros today and those of old.
You really think Sam Snead needed a guru to tell him how to swing, or video playback to know when something was wrong?
Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan, Lee Trevino and all the greats. They could self-diagnose the problem and fix it because it was their swing, not someone else's. Even the greatest of all time, Jack Nicklaus, who was taught by Jack Grout was able to fix himself on the driving range when necessary.
When I go to the Driving Range and watch some teachers in action, I have to literally bite my tongue and avert my eyes because they are trying to get people to move in such a way which is not natural for them. Granted, some teachers are better than others, so let us not tar everyone with the same brush.
The bottom line is that if it's not natural and doesn't feel right, there is no way the movement can hold up in a pressure situation. When the player is under the gun, the swing breaks down and, because it's not his / her natural movement, the player is almost helpless to fix it.
One of the oldest sayings is that "the mark of a true professional is being able to score well even when the swing isn't 100 per cent."
Well, you don't see that much happening nowadays. The swing is off, the scores climb and the first inclination of the player is to claim he's "working on something" then go and telephone his guru who has been watching the event on TV.
If golf is all about taking responsibility for one's own actions, can this still be true when the actions are implanted by someone else and the player is only executing them?
If Tiger Woods would just go out and swing naturally and without thinking of each and every movement, he'd play more consistently and have a lot more fun in the process.
Why would anyone, pro or amateur, play golf at all if it's not fun anymore?
The purpose of golf is to relax and have a good time, even if that's how you earn a living and if you're not having fun out there, how can you play well? One problem begets another ad infinitum and the worse you play the more aggravated you get. You cannot win like that.
In Westwood's case, he's upset because every time he needs his guru, the guy is teaching someone else.
My advice is that since all pros are experts in the golf swing theory, it should be a simple case of "physician heal thyself."
You're a big boy now, Lee. — VNS