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Three Misconceptions about Playing Golf Well

Aug 17, 2007
What could be simpler than golf? There lies a perfectly quiet, still ball, ready to be dispatched to the desired spot. The player can take as much time as he wants and he has a whole kit full of clubs specifically designed to produce whatever effect he desires. All the golfer has to do is to swing the club.

I must inject: tennis, compared to golf, is difficult. In tennis, the ball is moving, it never comes to the same spot, it's in front of the player, it's behind the player, it may be low, it may be high, and the poor tennis player has just one racquet to do the job. To play the ball in its various positions, the tennis player must learn and perfect several different strokes. Not so the golfer. All the golfer needs is the one perfect stroke - and let the club do the work.

But confusion and contradiction are rampant in golf. There are more theories and more ideas on golf than any single subject in the world. Here is how these numberless ideas have developed.

Originally, in trying to explain the various clubs and their uses in golf, an impression was created that each club in golf required a certain technique. In other words, there was a certain way to use the driver for the long shots, the use of wooden clubs for fairway shots was something different, long irons required another technique, short irons something different again, and so on through the pitch shots and the chip shots. When it came to putting, the experts had run out of ideas and techniques, until today the notion prevails that putting is something that cannot be taught.

What a silly situation! Putting can be taught and learned just as any other shot in golf. But more on putting later.

On top of this contradiction about using the different swings for each club in golf, there is another theory in golf, to wit: that no two people can or should swing a golf club in the same way. There is a belief that each player must develop a golf swing designed to suit his own specific needs. From this school of thought we are swamped with ideas of how the tall, the short, the thick and the thin should play the game.

However, a serious consideration will soon prove that there are certain basic physical mechanics that exist in the human body and all persons - thick, thin, tall or short - must conform to that basic setup.

As if the above idea, of a different swing for each player and a different swing for each club in golf, has not developed enough confusion and conflict, there is still another prominent school of thought that has inhibited and restricted the naturalness in golf and the enjoyment that flows from such naturalness.

I refer now to the school that insists there should never be any body action in a golf shot. This school does admit that on the longer shots with the driver and other woods there may be some body action; but when it comes to the iron shots there must be none. Of course, when putting, complete rigor mortis should set in.

If ever one wanted to develop unnaturalness in a physical endeavor, the way to do it is to eliminate or restrict all body action. Nothing could be more unnatural because the basis of all athletics is a full, free use of the body. For example, whether one is throwing, kicking or punching - whenever one is trying to get power into a hand or a foot - it is with a sense of body action. In fact, it is only with a full, free sense of body action that the desired effect of throwing, kicking or punching is accomplished.

It has been recognized that the greatest need of people learning the game - and the greatest need in producing a consistency of play - was the need of a pattern, a clear-cut program whereby a player not only knew what he should do, but by knowing exactly what he should do he automatically learned exactly what not to do.
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