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Teed Off (16-09-2012)

Update: September, 18/2012 - 22:41

with Robert Bicknell

The latest saga in the Tiger Woods soap opera is Johnnie Miller offering to help Tiger Woods with his swing and mind set.

In an interview with Golf Magazine (October issue), Millar said: "He's the guy I'd like to help most," Miller said. "I've been watching him since he was in junior golf. I know all the swings he's had. I think I could help him get back to his natural swing, not the swing someone else wants him to make. I'm open to helping him."

Ah, vindication once again. I love it when big names confirm what I've been saying for 35 years. In this case, it's a reference to a "natural swing" in general and Tiger's problem specifically.

For those of you living in a cave and have missed, intentionally or accidentally, my endless blathering, allow me to briefly re-state my view on the golf swing.

In a nutshell, you have to swing naturally. We are not all built the same way and therefore have different strong and weak points. A great golf swing is one that is repeatable without conscious thought and which minimises our weaknesses and maximises our strengths.

When you're standing over a ball, you shouldn't be thinking of "how" to swing. You should be free to concentrate on the type of shot you want to hit and confident that your body will do as the mind commands. If you have to think about how to take the club back, how to start down and how to release, you're in serious trouble.

This is called "paralysis by analysis" which is simply a catchy phrase meaning you're thinking way too much and creating problems that shouldn't exist.

If I tossed a ball at your face, you would automatically try to block it. You wouldn't think about the mechanics of the block, or calculate the angle and velocity of the attack and then decide on which arm to use. You would just react naturally and block it.

The human body is an amazing machine. The brain can do unbelievable things – if you let it. Once we start trying to over-ride natural instinctive programming, we get into trouble.

I have never accepted the statement that a golf swing is an "unnatural act." It's only unnatural if you are swinging like someone other than who you are.

There isn't one correct swing to fit everyone.

People often say, "I want to swing like…" (insert name of any famous player – Tiger Woods, Ernie Els, Fred Couples, Phil Mickelson) " and I tell them that it's impossible unless you are those players. Everyone has different physical and mental limitations.

You have to swing like you. We are all unique.

Grahame Harris would end up in the hospital if he tried to swing like Lars Holden, and by the same token, Lars would end up as a mental case if he tried to swing like Grahame Harris because they have completely different natures.

Grahame has the old caddie swing – two turns and a swoosh, whereas Lars looks like the human equivalent of "Iron Byron." Yet, while different, both swings are natural to their physiques and temperament. More importantly, they are repeatable.

Tiger Woods has a lot of natural athletic ability. He could play with an umbrella and get away with it. Remember the ball bouncing on the wedge and then he smashed it? Not easy to do.

When I watch Tiger now, I see someone who is desperately trying to stick a square peg into a round hole. He's so focused on the mechanics of the swing, he cannot execute it smoothly.

If someone had to focus on all the minute movements involved with walking and chewing gum at the same time, they'd fall flat on their face. You have to let the brain do all of this without conscious thought. It's the same thing with the golf swing.

We tell students they have to "trust the swing" but all that means is to let the brain do it without active thought getting in the way.

You should develop a swing that allows you to think of the shot you want to hit, instead of losing yourself in the mechanics. It must be natural.

Tiger needs to stop thinking and just be himself. — VNS

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