One thing the vast majority of golfers have in common is the continual search for improvement. No matter how well you play you could always do better—make your good shots great ones and make your poor shots good ones.
Even the greatest players are not immune.
“Ian Baker-Finch, who won the 1991 British Open, decided he wanted to hit his ball farther. So he changed his swing—and stopped making cuts, much less winning tournaments.” (Jim Flick, On Golf)
“[Hogan] surely knew that all serious golfers are prone to come up with what they think to be ‘the secret’ but which usually turns out to be a snare and a delusion. I know that I had many of them, some of which I briefly thought were so valuable that I would keep them strictly to myself until I had won all the tournaments and money I wanted to.” (Cary Middlecoff, The Golf Swing)
I even think if I said I can show you how to play scratch golf for the rest of your life but you have to give up sex forever, a good number of golfers we find that an easy choice to make.
I have been playing golf for over 60 years. I have a good swing. It’s reliable. It hits the ball straight. Yet I keep wanting to make it better. (What that would be, I’m not really sure.)
I tried putting more width into my swing by extending my arms and getting my wrists hinged at the end of the backswing. All that did was put me into an unfamiliar position that left me wondering, “No what do I do?”
I tried starting the forward swing with a strong movement of my left hip but all that did was leave the club playing catch-up.
I watched film videos of the best golfers tried imitating the positions they got into. And I think I did but none of that made a positive difference and most of it made things worse.
And that is barely getting started on the list of things I tried to hit the ball even better.
All along, when I would get frustrated because my Fix-of-the-Week wasn’t working, I would say to myself, “Bob, just relax, stop thinking about how you hit the ball, and put the swing it you have been using for years. Decades. The one that is You.” And I would hit the shot I had been chasing for the last half-hour.
That swing is in there, I just have to learn to stop doing things that prevent it from coming out.
Looking back on all that effort there are only two things I have put into my swing that are of any benefit—the emphasis on tempo and rhythm, and the emphasis on the hands leading the club through impact. Two things of which this blog is filled to overflowing.
I know that if I keep my swing speed under my redline, and swing the club through impact with my hands working as one unit leading the clubhead, I can play a satisfying round of golf. I’m human, so I will make bad swings from time to time. But those don’t mean I need to install a patch.
So I’m finished with swing changes. The swing I have now I wouldn’t trade for anyone else’s. I’m going to stick with it and enjoy the ride.
Now if only I could putt better…