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An instructor’s perspective on the Chamblee/Dufner Twitter controversy

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If you have not had a chance to read the latest exchange on Twitter between Brandel Chamblee and Jason Dufner — and his teacher Chuck Cook — you have missed a wonderful controversy brewing. As you may know, Brandel is never one to hide his feelings on his views of the golf swing (he’s against The Golfing Machine teachings). And when people disagree with him (Jason Dufner), he’s not hesitant to tackle his opposition head on.

I’d like to take the time to weigh-in on what I feel should be focused on from an instruction standpoint, instead of what has been said on Twitter in this controversy.

Brandel’s side

First of all, I consider Brandel to be a friend of mine and he has been nothing but gracious to me during my professional career; though we have differing viewpoints on certain things. I have often called or emailed him, asking his opinion on one thing or another, and he has never failed to answer me. In fact, I love hearing what he has to say, even if it’s the opposite of what I feel personally and professionally — he hardly speaks without research to back it up. When you have the kind of stage he has, you must be armed with facts.

As we all know, Brandel is not a fan of the new breed of instruction. He prefers the old school methods, and clearly from his initial Tweet that sparked the entire controversy, he prefers an upright backswing. He is not a fan of most technologies used on the lesson tee, and he is very vocal regarding the Golfing Machine book and the Trackman launch monitor. While I hold both these things dear to me personally, I do understand how he could not be as convinced as I am of their successes within the game.

People must understand his opinion is a matter of perspective, and though he has this perspective as a player, and as a player-turned-teacher, he does not have the thousands and thousands of hours on the lesson tee. This does not make him right or wrong, it just gives him a different viewpoint.

Dufner’s side

As a teacher myself, I admire Dufner’s rise to fame and to the top ranks as a player, and I applaud him for doing so in spite of the odds and the drama that has gone on within his personal life over the last few years. I am proud to see him step up on a public forum and defend Chuck Cook (his long time teacher) on this Twitter thread. It is refreshing to see! Though I don’t know Jason, I’d like to shake his hand for doing so. My biggest gripe with Tour Professionals, in general, is their failure to stand by their instructors when things are not going well.

The last time I saw a player defending his teacher this adamantly was in a text string I had with Kevin Kisner (who is a great guy and friend) and John Tillery (his teacher and also a friend), who was not picked as one of the Top-100 Teachers on the latest list by Golf Magazine. As I told Kevin and John, it is a matter of time before he is recognized by Golf Magazine. The lists are subjective and many things go into the selection process; they make good choices and other times they make mistakes. John is a heck of a teacher and will always be Top 100 in my book! So kudos to Jason and Kevin for standing up for their guys…they both deserve it 100 percent.

Chuck Cook’s side

How Chuck was dragged into the middle of this whole controversy is beyond me, because he is one of the nicest and most soft-spoken guys. I also consider him the top-1 percent of teachers within our business. Chuck was in Vail for many years while I was also teaching there, and we have been on many outings together. He has been nothing but professional to all of us and anyone he comes into contact with personally. When someone questions him or his ability to teach at the highest levels, I can only say look at the two U.S. Open Champs he has taught, as well as what he’s done with countless other people within the game of golf. He is a smart and stand-up guy and deserves nothing but respect from all of us.

Chuck, I wish I could be HALF the teacher and person you are and have always been! That is a fact.

The Golfing Machine

Now, we could write an entire article series on the book I call my bible within the golfing world. However, 99 percent of the people in the world call it a “method,” or too complex, although every top teacher uses its methodologies within their instruction. It is ONLY an encyclopedia of motion — that’s it. It tells you what will and will not work together during the swing. What the book lacks has been the proper messenger to get the word across and that blame is only on timing. That’s not a knock on the past teachers who have used it or the players on Tour who have employed it.

Homer’s great book was born in 1969, and sadly the world would not be ready to hear these type of ideas in this type of format until now. And, like anything, it has been grossly misunderstood. The book and teachings have been chastised and will continue to be until a few more generations realize the greatness of what is contained within its pages. Only time will help our cause.

The Conclusion

Its all good… it’s not a big deal people! Please understand we ALL come from different places within the game and have our own opinions based on our perspective. Remember that these are all subject to change and can at any time. Every one of the people in that string of Tweets have their own agenda to promote and have the basis to call themselves great in what they do for a living. As long as we all have a drink and a laugh together at the end of the day, I see no harm in a gentleman’s disagreement between friends as long as nothing was done out of malice.

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Tom F. Stickney II is the Director of Instruction at Combine Performance in Scottsdale, Arizona. He is a Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher, and has been honored as a Golf Digest Best Teacher and a Golf Tips Top-25 Instructor. Tom is also a Trackman University Master/Partner, a distinction held by less than 60 people in the world.

23 Comments

23 Comments

  1. Jack

    Dec 22, 2017 at 2:08 am

    How is Brandel a teacher? He’s a full time TV personality and a former pro who didn’t do much. Impressive still but not sure why he’s qualified to teach people.

  2. david

    Dec 17, 2017 at 4:06 pm

    Tom I gave you a shank, and it hasn’t been the first time. You sat on the fence on this one and didn’t have the apparent guts to tell us how you really felt, I guess if you’re afraid to because someone in question is your friend, you shouldn’t be writing articles. Sorry this one was worse than a shank, it was a wimp!!!

  3. MikeyB

    Dec 14, 2017 at 6:42 am

    Well where’s the parade of Symetra and Web.com players that Brandel has whipped into top 100 player ranking status in only 60 days using Tathata Golf???? It’s ok, I’ll wait for you to post the list…..*crickets*

  4. Michael

    Dec 13, 2017 at 7:13 pm

    Any media guy who puts himself out there and who is going to act all righteous and arrogant over someone else’s use of strong language and use that as an excuse to cut off the conversation is worthless. Chamblee’s behavior for many years is all the justification that’s required.

  5. HDTVMAN

    Dec 13, 2017 at 6:23 pm

    EVERY GOLFER I KNOW…EVERYONE…has stopped watching The Golf Channel studio shows when Chamblee is on. He is disliked by EVERYONE I know, he is a golf FAILURE, won once (Putt-Putt Championship in Podunkville), is an absolute zero, and should be fired. We would all like to see him replaced by “Bones” when he isn’t on location doing a tournament. Hey NBC/Universal/Comcast?Golf Channel, fire this idiot!

  6. DG

    Dec 13, 2017 at 5:06 pm

    Love to see someone put The Golfing Machine into an order without all the cross referencing, in other words write it in layman’s terms.

    On Chamblee, he has a podium and states his view in a very outspoken manner. He needs to realize that there is not one way to skin a cat.

    • fred

      Dec 13, 2017 at 8:43 pm

      TGM is total rubbish written by a fraud. Homer is not an engineer and his science is wrong.

  7. Roscoe B.

    Dec 13, 2017 at 4:38 pm

    OK, I am a GOLF -WRX Junkie, and don’t miss much golf related media in US. In this case, “Tom, you owe me 5 minutes of my life back!” I mean, what did you actually say? You vaguely told us you like Chuck Cook and you consider Brandel a friend. What exactly do you consider your “perspective” that you shared with the reader as per the headline?

  8. Harold W. Haldeman

    Dec 13, 2017 at 1:57 pm

    If A argue heads while B argues tails, each invested in the result, A and B will be at odds interminably. Rather, agree that the coin is useful for decision-making only if it has both. The golf swing coin is physiology and physics. Whichever side comes up when you flip it, talent changes the result; that is, the individual’s in-born nature to, and instructor-nurtured eye-hand-body coordination to, strike that damn little sphere to obtain the desired result. The best instructors don’t fool with talent, and, with us, the innumerable untalented, use whatever means the instructor finds we can understand to achieve a swing we can repeat with reasonable, albeit marginal, success — dealing, in both cases, with variable physiologies. When in the history of the game has anyone agreed on the proper method? There isn’t one. The pros, including the parties to the current contretemps, prove that every time they take a club back. Golf’s industry of equipment manufacturers, its legions of instructors, owe their livelihood to it. Imagine the result if everyone agreed and everyone swung that way.

    • Steve S

      Dec 14, 2017 at 9:10 am

      I’ve been looking at pros swings for the last few years and they are mostly different except at the point of impact. If you look at stop action of all the great ball strikers you’ll see that they are all virtually in the same position. Because of this the key to a good swing is RELIABLY getting to that impact position no matter how you do it. That is what all players and teachers should focus on based on your flexibility, body type, strength, joint damage, etc. NOT what someone thinks is the best way to swing the club. There is no ONE best way…..

      • Andrew Cooper

        Dec 14, 2017 at 10:41 am

        Yes, but impact is a result of what’s gone before. A functionally sound swing will create a sound impact position, an unsound swing won’t. From the top of backswing to impact is less than 0.2 seconds, you simply can’t consciously put yourself into a pro impact position if what’s gone before wasn’t any good. You can’t fake it. So much of what happens once the downswing starts is reaction and compensation, at all levels e.g. Start down steeply, you’ll have to stand up and/or release early. Or get your arms stuck behind the body and you’ll have to stall the body and flip your hands and arms through impact. Knowing where you’re trying to get to is important, but you have to also have an idea of how to get there.

      • stevek

        Dec 14, 2017 at 2:38 pm

        So what you are implying is that the golf swing is a series of compensations and adjustments, until you reach impact position where it all straightens out?

        • Andrew Cooper

          Dec 14, 2017 at 5:43 pm

          Stevek, absolutely a golf swing is a series of compensations and adjustments. It’s working out how to balance it to make it effective and avoiding doing anything catastrophically bad. Any really poor impact position though will be the result of something really bad preceding it.

  9. Bob Jones

    Dec 13, 2017 at 10:51 am

    Regarding The Golfing Machine: I have a copy that I try to read from time to time. The book suffers because Kelley was not much of a writer; I won’t go into that. But what really disappoints me is that I cannot find where he says, “If you do X, then don’t do A. Do B instead.” There is the general hitter list and swinger list, but there is much more in the book than what is on those lists, and where does all of that fit in? There has to be something I’m not seeing, and I don’t think I’m alone.

    • fred

      Dec 13, 2017 at 8:41 pm

      TGM is total rubbish and Homer was a fraud. Only the gullible will try to make something out of it. It’s a total scam.

    • SK

      Dec 14, 2017 at 2:45 pm

      TGM was evaluated by a scientific expert with a doctorate degree in biomechanics who has researched and published technical papers on the golf swing, and his judgment was that TGM had an error on every page. Also the definitions of a ‘swinger’ and ‘hitter’ are unrealistic.

  10. Ron

    Dec 13, 2017 at 10:44 am

    While I agree with your final comment about having a drink together and no harm done from a “gentleman’s disagreement”, Dufner took it outside the realm of a gentleman’s disagreement with his arrogant profane comments. And then continued to act like a teenager by proudly celebrating the fact that Chamblee blocked him. What people don’t realize it that acting like he did weakens his argument. I lost a lot of respect for Dufner. Good for Chamblee for being the bigger person. And this has nothing to do with whose opinions were right or wrong.

    • Sherwin

      Dec 13, 2017 at 11:20 am

      I feel the opposite. Brandel looks weak. It was easier for him to block Jason than defend his opinion.

      • Ron

        Dec 13, 2017 at 2:11 pm

        It’s difficult to defend your opinion when someone tells you to shut your Fing mouth. It’s best not even to feed into that type of banter any further. I’ve seen Brandel defend his opinions many times on TV. I don’t think he would have had a problem having a civilized discussion with Jason Dufner.

    • M-Herd4

      Dec 13, 2017 at 1:30 pm

      I agree with your comment Ron. I’m not a huge Chamblee fan but in this case I think he did the right thing. Dufner needs to act like the 40 year old professional adult he is and not some foul mouthed immature younger version of himself.

  11. Tom

    Dec 13, 2017 at 8:33 am

    Chamblee is an idiot

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