Swing Myths ~ Score like a Pro
“As a coach, the disconnect between “Ranger Rick” and “Shooter McGavin” is palpable. Too many golfers confuse the idea of golf swing with golf scores… they are at best uneasy bedfellows.
Hey Coach, what do you see on the golf course?
This is a question I get asked regularly, do golfers really swing it that different on the golf course compared to say a range setting. Do their swings change from Ben Hogan to Happy Gilmore as if by voodoo magic? The answer is no, I rarely see a swing that looks different to the range swing but I spend most days looking at swings that perform differently. There are many reasons for this and over the next few weeks I will break them down into different categories so that it may help you going forward to understand why that striped seven iron on the range becomes a weak cut into a water hazard on course. You turn to your golfing buddies with the look of someone who is cursed.
“You need one to make the other”
As a golf coach, I would spend four to five days a week working on course with students at Roganstown and Killerig Golf Clubs. We are talking about your middle of the road weekend warriors, handicap golfers from 5 to 18, men and woman, mostly middle-aged that play once or twice a week. I find it invaluable after the initial period of teaching them the mechanics of the game in a range or short game setting. I used to sometimes wonder why a particular student would not be returning solid scores on the golf course as their ball striking and short game improved. There seemed to be a disconnect. The reality is that playing golf and golf swing is like comparing a bunch of grapes to a bottle of wine. You need one to make the other but you won’t get drunk on a bunch of grapes.
“The single most important thing to improve on a golf course..”
The single most important thing to improve on a golf course is the quality of strike. Does it make any real difference to a handicap golfer if they are left side, middle, or right side of the fairway? Not really, they are still liable with their skill level to miss the green no matter where they are hitting from. Is it easier from the correct side? Of course, it is but what I have found is that the ability to hit the ball solidly on the course is the first port of call in helping a golfer reduce their handicap.
“Draw V Fade”
I love the debate about whether golfers should learn to draw or fade the golf ball. It’s back to the chasm between amateurs and professional golfers. There is no difference in distance between a fade and a draw on Tour. This is proven on Trackman. Indeed, some of the longest hitters on Tour such as DJ and Brooks Koepka hit a controlled fade. The keyword here is controlled; it is moving in the air a matter of yards. Fast forward to our intrepid handicap golfer, and they will confidently tell you that their 15-yard cut is a fade. It’s not! And therein lies the problem, the harder you hit a draw pattern you will at least get away with a shot that runs a distance, a fade that becomes a cut that becomes a slice is a nightmare and the main reason I see handicap golfers struggle on course.
“Chopping across the ball”
They are effectively chopping across the ball. On a good day, it’s a controlled fade (15-yard slice), on a bad day lost golf balls or shots that leave you so far back from the green that you limit your chance of playing to your handicap. There is no point in improving your short game if you never get to use it because you can’t get to the green in a reasonable amount of shots.
“I’m not able to draw the ball”
But I’m not able to draw the ball is a common complaint. When golfers first take up the game, they naturally use their arms and hands to hit the ball. This seems intuitive as they are the only thing attached to the club. This pattern continues if they don’t get tuition and in time they join the legions of golfers in ranges up and down the country practicing being bad. Let’s be quite clear here, practicing hitting the golf ball with your hands is a recipe for disaster unless your name is Christy O’Connor Senior. The skill level required to control the clubface is way beyond normal mortals.
We marvel when we see videos of young kids hitting shots, but if you look closely, they are using their bodies to propel the ball. They don’t have a choice; their size dictates that they work this out or the ball is going nowhere! The problem as we get older or indeed are not aware of this fact is that the rotation of the body is an unnatural movement unless learned. The areas of the body required to strike the ball well become inflexible over time as a sedentary lifestyle takes over for most golfers that enter the fray in their early 30’s onwards.
“Solid contact V Direction”
Learning to draw the ball is the best way to start to play golf. There are numerous drills to help learn this pattern, and initial coaching is a must. I very rarely see amateurs hit a fade as far as a draw because the fade in most cases is a slice of some degree, and when the pressure comes on, it becomes a chop. Most golfers starting out and indeed playing for some time need solid contact with the ball way more than direction to improve. This assumes you are not hitting shots out of bounds on every second hole.
(The coach is badly needed then!)
“Aspire to be like Shooter!”
Learning to hit the ball solidly with a draw pattern is my first recommendation to move from Ranger Rick to Shooter McGavin.
Next week I will discuss the curious case of why golfers aim everywhere except where they should aim depending on the topography of the hole, the wind direction and the club they are using.
Thank you for taking the time to read! It is appreciated. Follow our Ryder Cup Captain at our dedicated Ryder Cup page and over at his website. Finally, don’t forget to sign up for my FREE monthly digital magazine. Finally, you also have a chance to win a dozen Titleist Pro V1’s each & every month. Tadhg.
Tadhg Harrington is a full time, professional golf instructor, and owner of the Harrington Golf Academy, based in Dublin, Ireland. He is a graduate of the Titleist Performance Institute and Setanta College. He is the eldest brother of three-time time Major Champion, Padraig Harrington.
He succeeds, employing empathy, passion and exceptional customer service, teaching above the noise, the quick tips, and the latest fads and is truly unique in the Irish golf industry.
The Harrington Golf Academy provides long term coaching programs designed to bring sensory processing to motor learning skills. Tadhg teaches the long game at Drynam Park Golf Centre and short game at Roganstown GC. His business partner, Ex European Tour Player, Rebecca Codd, also teaches full time at Drynam Park Golf Centre.