By Robert Bicknell
Comedian Billy Crystal joined the cast of Saturday Night Live the 1984-85 season. His most famous recurring sketch was his parody of Fernando Lamas, a smarmy talk-show host whose catch phrase was “It is better to look better than to feel good and, darling, you look Mahvelous!” became a media sensation
So, here’s an interesting question… Is it better to look good, or to play good? (Grammar critics stop screaming, I know “play good” is wrong, but it’s the only way it fits the set up correctly. Call it, artistic licence and shaddap).
The reason behind this is that I see far too many people on the driving ranges trying to swing like Tour pros and failing miserably. The painstakingly compare their swings to what they see on YouTube and keep making changes, despite not having the physical characteristics or strengths of the player in the video.
So the question is, do you want to look like you can play golf, or do you want to play good golf? The two are not always mutual.
For me, the bottom line in a golf swing is it has to be repeatable and it has to work for you. Period. You cannot ask someone like Ernie Els or Fred Couples to swing like Tiger Woods, they just couldn’t do it without screwing up their own game.
A golf swing must work for you. Telling a golf instructor that you want to swing like (insert name of favourite pro here) just isn’t going to work for you unless you are (insert name of favorite pro here).
I met a student back in the 80’s who couldn’t hit a draw if you put a gun to his head. Everything was a slice. So I showed him how he could change his set up to hit the draw. He tried it and was successful, but went back to his old swing because he said he wanted to swing like they do in the books.
As far as I know, many thousands of dollars later spent on lessons, videos, books, training aids, etc., he still cannot hit the ball straight or draw it, and still has never shot under 100 in his life. He was one of those types who believe it is better to look good and suck, than look funny but shoot even par.
A golf swing must match up with your body and character. It must match your “inner tempo”. If you’re trying to be someone you’re not, it will never work.
Just ask Jim Furyk, Bubba Watson or Ho-sung Choi about swinging the way that works for them. If you don’t know who Choi is, look for him on Youtube. Trust me… you gotta see this to believe it. He makes my trick shot swing look relatively normal (to see my trick shot swing, go to YouTube “Robert Bicknell Loop Swing”).
When you look champions of the past, I don’t remember anyone who had a “textbook swing”, not even Ben Hogan – but he was close to “textbook” simply because it was his book, “Five Fundamentals of Golf” which defined the textbook swing.
On the other hand, Moe Norman would strongly disagree with Hogan. If you don’t know who Moe Norman is, Google him. He had the weirdest swing on the professional tour back in the days of covered wagons, yet he could knock down flagsticks at 200 yards time and again. He build a swing that HE could use and, while looking silly to the other pros, it worked fantastically well for him.
Jack Nicklaus, they said at the time, had a “flying elbow”. Arnold Palmer looked like he was in a sword fight on his follow through, Gary Player looked like he couldn’t wait for the follow through to finish so he could start walking down the fairway, and Lee Trevino looked like he was slinging a fishing net.
As long as I’m using descriptions, let us not forget that Jim Furyk’s swing was once described as an “octopus falling out of a tree” (which is still the funniest thing I have ever heard to date).
Yet, all these successful players had one thing in common – they were perfect when coming through the impact zone.
So, the decision is yours, do you want to look good, or do you want to break par? VNS