Viet Nam News
by Robert Bicknell
Last column, I referred to a club-fitting interview with Tiger Woods in Golf Digest magazine, specifically his comment about a 6-iron flight trajectory missing his expected “window” and that got me thinking about what I had learned as a youngster.
I used to always envision a small window roughly two-yards from the ball and in line with my target, and on the same trajectory of that particular club. And it was this simple technique which allowed me to thread the needle and hit over 75 per cent of my fairways even at 280-300 yards. I was able to land my irons within 2-4 yards of my targets 75 per cent of the time. Even when I missed my target, it would be considered acceptable by most players. My playing partners never even knew I considered it a missed shot.
However, over the years, we forget some of the things we learned. Things that helped us to get where we are and when that happens, we start to regress. We lose that special something and begin to flounder. When your game goes off, every experienced professional will tell you to check your basics (grip, stance and alignment) first. To be honest, many of the fixes I need to rectify as a teaching professional, alignment was the initial cause of the problem. Once that is off, the player will start to unintentionally overcompensate in some other way to get the ball back on target, and that’s when you begin to self-destruct.
My path to self-destruction came from forgetting what got me to a plus handicap in the first place. At my best, I was a +3 handicap (READ: Personal par for me was 69, not 72), but then I began to change my swing from a natural 2-3 yard fade to a draw. I don’t know why I did it. The basic rule of thumb is always “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” right? I didn’t need any more distance and I was already knocking down flagsticks. If I were to fix anything, it should have been my putting. That area of my game usually fluctuated between barely acceptable and sucks completely.
When you become a “student of the game” there is a definite danger of learning too much theory and getting entangled with all these “new ideas” and “swing secrets” which are touted endlessly by the magazines and on-line teachers. The problem is that before you can discount them, or accept them, you have to read or watch it, and that fills your head with too much information.
It’s easy to develop a condition called “Paralysis by Analysis” (aka “too much information”) and with all the competing information out there, it’s no wonder so many amateur golfers become so confused that they never improve.
And it happened to me as well. I receive so much information on newly promoted golf swing theories that I also end up forgetting my own swing. When that happens, I have to reboot my brain and go back to what I used to do.
This is also why I still keep video from when my swing was exactly where I wanted it. I can refer back to that and compare to what I am doing when the swing went off track and fix it.
In the Golf Digest article, Tiger also mentioned a theory which I have always fully agreed with: "The swing is controlled by the hands.” Yes, you read that right. I know a lot of teachers want you to take the club back with the shoulders, but, to me, this makes no sense because a backswing should be a natural fluid motion.
Throw the clubhead back along the line and everything should happen naturally. The wrists cock because of the weight of the club and the arc. If you have to forcibly cock your wrists, something is wrong (grip too tight probably) and things will get worse from there.
So, having found and applied my “window” technique again, I am now letting my hands take over the control and things are gradually getting back to where I want.
Like every pro tells you, if you want to improve, stop trying too hard. — VNS