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Clampett: Is confusion the leading cause of golfers quitting the game?

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It seems that lately I’ve had a run of golfers attending my two-day Signature School with similar stories.

“Bobby, I have too many swing thoughts! I don’t know what I should think about when I swing.” Nearly without exception, these golfers tell me that their increased frustration had led to a deterioration of their game. It’s really a shame, because many of these frustrated golfers were at one time low, single-digit handicap players that had fallen to bogey-level golf.

In these schools, I have the time to start peeling back the onion with each student, and I’m hearing the same story over and over. My first question is always, “How did you find out about us?” Usually, it’s through referral or the result of an internet search for instruction help. My second questions is, “What do you hope to accomplish in our two days together?” They almost always respond, “Bobby, my head is spinning with too many swing thoughts. I don’t know what to do. Your approach to impact makes the most sense I’ve seen. That’s why I’m here.”

Statistics indicate that 4 million golfers quit the game in the United States every year. And if you polled each of these 4 million golfers, you’d find confusion to be the common denominator in their decision to quit.

I googled “golf instruction” and received more than 33 million results. Then I went to “YouTube” and typed in “Golf Tip.” There were 932,000 results. Scores of golfers get emails everyday suggesting a new thought or idea to improve their game. They watch television and pick up some more advice. They subscribe to golf magazines suggesting all kinds of ideas. Then they go to the range or course and put as much of it into action as their memories and bodies will allow… only to find it just doesn’t work! They’re farther away from playing good golf than they were when they began seeking out these swing fixes.

Many of my students are avid golfers who come to my schools on the brink of quitting the game all together. One student’s story was so sad. He confessed that no one at his club wanted to play with him anymore because his game had declined so sharply. He was considering selling his membership. In tears, he shared with us that all of his friends were members of his club.

Why is there all this confusion around the golf swing? There are two simple reasons.

The first involves the idea that “style-based” teaching is still the most common approach to improving a golfer’s game, and in my opinion, this doesn’t work very well for most golfers. Style-based instruction centers around a certain look. These teachers ask golfers to set up to the ball this way, get in these backswing positions, make this move on the downswing, look like this at the finish… and so on. Meanwhile, the Dustin Johnsons, Jim Furyks, and Bubba Watsons of the golfing world don’t possess golf swings that look anything like the “style” being suggested. When swing tips are given for “style” reasons, they’re arbitrary, a visual preference, and can’t be measured.

The second reason golfers are more confused today than they’ve ever been is the climate of today’s golf instruction world. We live in a new age, the digital age, and golfers are being bombarded by countless forms of media suggesting how to improve their games. These tips have a very wide range of theories and suggestions, most of which are conflicting.

Set up with your weight on the left foot. No, on the right foot. No, in the middle.

Have a short, compact swing. No, get a big shoulder turn for more distance. No, just swing around your body.

Finish high. No, finish low and left.

You get the picture. Without the ability to discern fact from fiction when it comes to all of this information, golfers go to the driving range in search of that secret pill that’s going to make it all work. The truth is that a secret pill that’s “style-based” just doesn’t exist. The best golf teachers know that the “style” of swing really doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters in playing good golf is creating good impact. That’s what Dustin Johnson, Jim Furyk and Bubba Watson all have in common, and that’s why they are all great golfers and great ball-strikers.

Good instructors understand what it is that these great players do to create that good impact, and they have the ability to offer clear remedies that might be built on only one or two simple thoughts. When a golfer is limited to thinking about only one or two key things, their mind is free and so is their swing. It’s not paralysis by analysis that ruins golfers, but rather paralysis by having too many needless and ineffective swing thoughts that ruins golfers.

Good instruction and good swing tips help golfers understand the impact their swing needs to create to be a good ball-striker. When a golfer’s impact isn’t good, a good instructor will help the student understand the specific element of their impact that wasn’t good and provide the appropriate remedy to fix it. Using today’s modern technology helps reveal precisely what was good or bad about a swing’s impact. After the remedy is given, technology will specifically be able to measure and show improvement in the various elements of impact. Game improvement can now be measured and verified by viewing the specific areas where impact is improved. When students see this measured improvement, hope is restored, confidence grows, scores drop and fewer golfers quit the game!

Be aware that it’s fine to read these articles and view these swing tips for their entertainment and educational value, but golfers should only apply the tips when they know they will help them improve a specific element of their impact. Then and only then will their game improve. One thing is for certain in golf, better impact equals better golf. That is where the “hope” of a good golf game is to be found.

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For students wanting to experience how improving their impact will improve their games, Bobby suggests coming to his next Signature Golf School, creating your own private school for your own group, and/or signing up for a private lesson. Simply go to: www.impactzonegolf.com or call 239-236-5536. For those instructors who want to learn "Impact-Based®" instruction, Bobby Clampett now has a fully developed Advanced Level One online training fully supported by the PGA and LPGA with continuing education credits. For those who complete, Bobby and Impact Zone Golf are developing a Certification Program and ultimately a masters Program. Impact Zone Golf is ready to build an army of good golf instructors and rid the epidemic of frustrated golfers victimized by "style-based" instruction methods. Bobby Clampett is a well-known PGA Tour Winner and Longtime CBS Golf Broadcaster, but perhaps he will be best known for his discovery of Impact-Based® Instruction. His two golf academies are in Naples, Florida: Indoor Performance Studio (1040 Collier Center Way, Unit 14, Naples, FL 34110) and at the Tiburon Golf Club at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort. Bobby is the first golf instructor in history to be a PGA Tour winner and earn PGA Master Professional in Teaching and Coaching. He and his team of Impact-Based® Academy Trained instructors offer year-round Golf Schools, Private Lessons, Women’s Programs, Annual and Seasonal Coaching Programs, Competitive Junior Training and much more. He now offers Instructor Training and Certification approved by the PGA and LPGA. Visit: https://impactzonegolf.com or call: 239-236-5536.

41 Comments

41 Comments

  1. Warwick Weedon

    Mar 27, 2018 at 2:51 am

    I fully agree. I had a dreadful round. The next day I went to the range and asked the pro what aspect of the swing I should concentrate on. He replied, ” You have been playing the game for 30 years – just swing and hit the ball!” It worked like a charm!!!

  2. K Varnsen

    Mar 26, 2018 at 4:00 pm

    Time & money have been and always will be the most important factors in golfers quitting the game.

    • gino

      Mar 26, 2018 at 6:09 pm

      No… most of them quit because they come to the realization they are non-athletic cruud and can’t drive the ball over 200 yards.

  3. Ron

    Mar 26, 2018 at 1:09 pm

    “One student’s story was so sad. He confessed that no one at his club wanted to play with him anymore because his game had declined so sharply. He was considering selling his membership. In tears, he shared with us that all of his friends were members of his club.”

    Cue the violins. If this ain’t a 1st world problem idk what is..

  4. Mike Cleland

    Mar 26, 2018 at 12:49 pm

    The reason people are leaving the game is COST.

    • gino

      Mar 26, 2018 at 6:10 pm

      People also leave the game because nobody wants to play with them… they’re incompetent!!

  5. Tyler

    Mar 26, 2018 at 12:21 pm

    It’s pretty ridiculous to suggest confusion as the main reason why people are quitting the game. It’s finances and time but Bob should know that considering most of his articles always end up as a shameless plug for his teaching/amateur golf accomplishments. There is no other sport like golf where one much purchase so much over priced equipment, equipment that the equipment manufactures will tell you is obsolete in just a year or two. All the other majors sports require minimal equipment to purchase that hasn’t changed in years. Most companies now are targeting the high end market which will just continue to drive people away. What other major sports require dress codes? It’s just the way it is.

  6. dennis Clark

    Mar 26, 2018 at 8:29 am

    I’ve been writing about this topic for over 6 years in this site. “Impact teaching”, a concept I learned from John Jacobs 30+ years ago, is the ONLY way to approach instruction. Reference my 100+ articles, same theme…always was, always will be..

    • gino

      Mar 26, 2018 at 6:04 pm

      That’s because you are ignorant about the latest scientific revelations about the golf swing… like the Kinetic Chain… and Newtonian Physics… all beyond the brainlets of old dog teachers who can easily con gullible golfers looking for an instant fix.

  7. Speedy

    Mar 25, 2018 at 9:24 pm

    Proper grip, stance, posture aren’t adhered to by most amateurs. They haven’t the “Basics” discipline to succeed.

    • gino

      Mar 26, 2018 at 6:05 pm

      Yup… every time they swing they invent a new swing… lol

    • Chad

      Mar 27, 2018 at 9:28 am

      Because grip stance and posture rarely cause issues. Your logic is precisely why people aren’t getting better.

  8. BarnRat

    Mar 25, 2018 at 11:58 am

    33.7% of Americans are obese and are totally unable to play golf. If they started golf when they were children and became obese as adults they can compensate… but those who start as obese adults they will fail utterly. I know because I’m obese and a 20 y.o. tour pro golfer.

    • gino

      Mar 26, 2018 at 6:06 pm

      Fat men can’t wipe themselves cleanly… and can’t swing because their blubber resists rotation.

  9. Man

    Mar 25, 2018 at 10:22 am

    They quit the game because they suck at it. No matter how hard some people try, they just don’t have it, right? They get frustrated because they just aren’t athletes of any calibre, and they fail. So they quit. Good.

    • ogo

      Mar 25, 2018 at 11:50 am

      Correct… frustration, failure and finances to play the game. Also, the generational shifts from the sickly Baby Boomers (ages 6o and over) who are rich and privileged to the Generation X and now the Millenials who are too poor to play golf and prefer a sedentary lifestyle playing video games and Texas Holdem Poker. Every generation is either retiring from golf to quitting because golf is not a satisfying recreational experience. Golf is dying and is only for the super rich.

      • Bob Jones

        Mar 26, 2018 at 2:43 pm

        Come out to my Men’s Club day some Tuesday morning and show me where the super rich guys are among them. I sure don’t know.

        • gino

          Mar 26, 2018 at 6:08 pm

          That’s because you live in a little dream world with the other “Men’s Club” deluders….

  10. sebastian

    Mar 25, 2018 at 7:43 am

    not sure how this all fits, but in my experience, finally understanding concepts changed my game. the biggest game changer to me was the arm swing illusion thread here by Jim Waldron. For me, it had nothing to do with positions, but a concept. Arms move up and down, body turns. Then add bobby lopez, “no offsides” concept, and I dropped like 20 strokes off my game due to consistency and concepts. No positions, no checkpoints, but concepts and understanding.

    That was after wasting lots of money on lessons with instructors who taught radically different things. Hold the lag, stab the front leg, turn left, swing toward first base, etc…

  11. Jack

    Mar 25, 2018 at 1:17 am

    True indeed self diagnosis works just about as well as trying to self diagnose a complex disease. Not sure why golfers do it, but I do lol.

    • steve

      Mar 25, 2018 at 5:39 pm

      Very astute observation…. and if you think of it, you cannot see nor feel what you are doing during the golfswing. You can’t see it because most of it is out of sight… and you can’t feel it in real time because there is a 500 millisecond delay between what happens and what you eventually feel. Even viewing your swing on video is unhelpful unless your swing error is egregious… and even then you don’t know what to do to fix the error.
      It’s a game of trial and error and error and error …. 😮

  12. Xavinoo

    Mar 24, 2018 at 11:24 pm

    I’m reminded of this quote..,.

    “Swing Your Swing”
    “Not Some Idea of A Swing”
    “Not A Swing You Saw On TV”
    “Not That Swing You Wish You Had”
    “No! Swing Your Swing”
    “Capable of Greatness, Prized Only By You”
    “Perfect In Its Imperfection”
    “Swing Your Swing”
    “I Know I Did!”

    Arnold Palmer

    I enjoy golf the most when I let my swing happen the way it works for me. I play better, I’m more focused, It allows me to play to the course and it’s strategy not my swing and what I hope it will do.

    I got interested in navigating my way better around the course and using my brain not my brawn. Thereby playing to your strengths not the shot you hit 3 times a year. Being consistent from 150 yards in not 550 yards in was crucial for me.

    As boring as it is my score lowered when I chip with my hybrid, putt outside the green from tight lies, go for par 5’s in three, club up on approaches swinging easy, try to ‘chip’ out of bunkers whenever possible, hit fairway wood, hybrid’s, and long irons off the box more than I whip out the big stick keeping it in play. I can smash my 5 iron 215-225 and get a good 230-240 when I want with my 16.5 4 wood. With that distance when you play from your appropriate tee box you find the game more manageable and enjoyable.

    What really helped was practicing my putting on my kids playmat into a children sized cup repetively from 1-6 feet for 1/2 an hour a day. I found that I usually 2 put at least 6/9 holes when I play and can save par/bogey 75% of the time. I don’t think nearly as hard on those shorter putts plus I try to not play the break 95% of the time aiming for center cup only.

    With two kids a full time job I don’t have the time to dedicate myself to low digit play. I would love to play to high 70’s but I’m stuck in the 80’s. I have good rounds I have really nasty ones. It doesn’t matter no one is handing me my tour card tomorrow. I’ve learned to accept the game I have. Not the swing the golfing conglomerates think I should have. Seve, Daly, Couples, Watson & Furyk all good examples of not over thinking their swings.

    But the more than anything else I’ve tried to enjoy the game I love, Not contemplate the intricacies of my swinging technique. Life’s too stressful and short to not enjoy golf.

  13. steve

    Mar 24, 2018 at 10:45 pm

    Why do adult men believe they can think their way through a golf swing using swing tips?
    Any athlete will tell you they don’t overthink their sport, they just do it automatically.
    Adult male golfers who are non-athletic or declining with age and are desperate, seek improvement from golf tips and new equipment. They don’t understand their decline is due to a deteriorating body. If they want to slow down the decline they must work daily to recondition their body. Nothing else works… believe it.

    • Mat

      Mar 25, 2018 at 1:08 am

      Because target-sport athletes are given specific thoughts by the best mental teachers. Unfortunately, instead of just one thing, it’s 10 for ams.

      • gino

        Mar 26, 2018 at 6:13 pm

        So it’s mind over matter… from the best mental teachers who scam gullible fat golfers?

  14. Sean Foster-Nolan

    Mar 24, 2018 at 6:39 pm

    I have been saying for a long time, the swing is all about impact, and it doesn’t matter how you get there as long as you get there. While golf instruction can be confusing, anything new a student learns takes time to master. It requires patience and hard work. Some folks are unwilling to commit to what needs to be done and opine that, “Golf instruction doesn’t work for me,” as they revert back to their old habits.

    • george

      Mar 24, 2018 at 10:35 pm

      Ball flight is all about impact, precisely…5-6 ten thousands of a second.

      Golf swing is determined from P6 to P8. That is where Furyk is perfect as was Ben Hogan, IMO

      • gino

        Mar 26, 2018 at 6:20 pm

        So just swing from P6 to P8 if that’s the secret to your swing. Btw… positions are just static snapshots and in no way describe the dynamics of the golf swing. Only scientific analysis can fully reveal how the golfswing functions.

  15. John B

    Mar 24, 2018 at 5:46 pm

    I am a 56 year old lifetime golfer who has a good friend who is an excellent teaching pro and my age. On my good days I was breaking 80… Several years ago I went to him and I told him I wanted to get to scratch over lunch. He looked me in the eye and said we can rebuild your swing and try and fix your flaws, BUT it could be miserable for a couple of years and you may end up the same or worse. He told me there is a reason there is a senior tour and many of those guys disappear after 55-56. He suggested I enjoy and keep playing with “MY GAME” and that I practice pitching, chipping and and putting around the green. I took his advice play about 60 rounds a season in the northeast and work on my short game once or twice a week for about 30 minutes. Well my good days are in the mid 70s now. When I get my golf magazines I never read the instruction articles any more. I just play and enjoy the course, friends and the playing.

    • Acemandrake

      Mar 24, 2018 at 7:31 pm

      This. I’m like you only older (60) and everything you said (well written BTW) applies to my game.

      I particularly appreciate your pro’s advice: Play “MY GAME”…work on short game…enjoy the game you have from a lifetime of playing.

      It’s okay to seek improvement but we need to be smart & realistic about it.

      There are multiple ways to enjoy this great game.

      Me? I’m grateful to be out there soaking up the atmosphere 🙂

    • Warwick Weedon

      Mar 27, 2018 at 2:47 am

      Excellent!!

  16. Steve Wozeniak

    Mar 24, 2018 at 4:39 pm

    I LOVE IT!!!!!! This coming from a guy that read the golfing machine cover to cover a hundred times and is to this day completely confused about what happens in the golf swing…..hey but keep trying Bob…..

    Steve Wozeniak PGA

    Watch Bill Mehlhorn giving a clinic to Florida State golfers on YouTube, it’s from the mid 70″s and you might get a clue. Now that’s simple baby……

    • steve

      Mar 24, 2018 at 10:48 pm

      In another WRX article by Bobby, he is in a photo with a lot of computer screens with the latest high tech golfswing data. It’s never too late to find truth and simplicity through the latest science… and burn TGM because it’s total rubbish.

  17. Brett Weir

    Mar 24, 2018 at 4:00 pm

    Amen….I was ready to quit the game 4 years ago and decided to work on my swing from scratch with an emphasis on having the clubface square through impact with a lot of shaft lean. Since then, I’m been shooting from the 90s to the 70s. The game is fun again.

    • MuskieCy

      Mar 24, 2018 at 11:34 pm

      While I question a 20 improvement in handicap, I need to know one thing.

      If a square face to path is revelation, what were you thinking about before?

      • TheCityGame

        Mar 26, 2018 at 12:59 pm

        Watch people on the range. They’re not focussing on square impact at all. They hit a bad shot, and they starting rehearsing moves with their right elbow halfway down, like if they just fix that, they’ll hit it straight. They think about weight distribution, transition, shortening the backswing, holding a finish. They generally seem to be thinking about everything except what was happening with the face and the path at the ball.

  18. WigerToods

    Mar 24, 2018 at 3:00 pm

    According to the tiger cubs, it’s tiger retiring that will kill golf

  19. Square

    Mar 24, 2018 at 2:42 pm

    100% correct! This is the truth. when I quit working about my back swing, positions, etc and focused on impact and a solid impact position, I dropped my handicap to +2. This is the holy grail of instruction and I’ve used a few drills from Bobby to help out. I met him at the PGA show a few years back and he couldn’t have been more passionate and was very accommodating. Keep up the good work!

    • 2putttom

      Mar 25, 2018 at 1:44 pm

      #Ditto. keep it simple is the new motto for amature golfers.

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