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20 signs you’re a victim of style-based golf instruction

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How can one explain how major championship winners like David Duval, Sandy Lyle, Seve Ballesteros, Ian Baker-Finch and Mike Weir (to name a few) all completely lost their games and were driven off the PGA Tour? The list of talented players, like these major winners, who tried to improve their games by changing their style of swing and only got worse is an unnecessary and long list.

Though I never won a major championship, I contended twice when I was 22, losing a seven-stroke lead in the third round of the British Open at Royal Troon and getting to within a stroke of the lead on the back nine on Sunday at the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. After those losses, like so many before and after me, I blamed my style of swing. I thought my swing wasn’t good enough. I went to work to change it. I took lessons from style-based teachers, who were concerned with various body and club positions during the swing. I never contended for a major championship again and ultimately left the PGA Tour like David and Ian for a broadcasting career.

When I think back on that pivotal decision I made when I was 23 to change my style of swing, it makes me wonder now, what if? What if I had stayed with my old swing? What if I had worked with a coach who could have revealed to me how I was improving through measurable results? What if I had worked with a coach who would have let me keep my style of swing, isolated the variables of impact and focused on helping me improve those? What if I could have measured those improvements? I now know my career and countless others would have been saved and been even more successful.

Having recently retired from the PGA Champions Tour, where I played more than 200 pro-am events in my five-year career, it was evident to me that the leading cause of 4 million golfers quitting golf every year in the United States is not the cost or the time, but rather the FRUSTRATION. Like me and the before-mentioned major championship winners, so many of these 4 million golfers believed that by simply changing their style of swing they would play radically better golf. The style-changing lessons they invested in proved to be unsuccessful and their games never got better. Feeling like there’s nowhere to turn, so many of them simply put their clubs for sale on eBay and quit the game.

What exactly is “style-based” teaching? It’s a connect-the-dots approach to building your swing to achieve a certain look. One needs to have a certain grip, an exact posture at address, the club in specific positions at several check points on the backswing, a certain top of the backswing position, etc., etc., etc.

The only time “style-based” teaching can help your game is if and when it improves certain key aspects of your impact… but sadly it rarely does. Golfers can improve so much faster and more efficiently when they are able to isolate all the key variables of impact, measure them and work backward to modify elements of the swing solely for the purpose of improving their impact. Additionally, the mental or emotional state of all golfers is upgraded dramatically as a result of being inspired by the realization that their swing style is just fine. They begin to see tangible improvements both in their ball flight as well as in the key measurements occurring at impact.

Technology has now reached such heights in golf that we can zero-in on several critical measurements, offering very helpful insights regarding key performance indicators. Good teachers today know how to use this technology, how to measure impact and how to work backward from there to improve a golfer’s game by improving their impact variables.

Take a look at this picture of Dustin Johnson, Jim Furyk and Shane Lowery at the top of their backswings. Everything is different, from the right knee bends, hip rotations, spine angles, left-arm positions, right-elbow positions, left-wrist positions, club-face rotations, swing planes (both angled and shaft plane), and even where their heads are pointing.

The golf instruction faction hasn’t yet made the transition, meaning style-based teaching is still king of the teaching world. But ask yourself — how can one explain the fact golfers like Jim Furyk, Bubba Watson, Dustin Johnson and many of the great champions of yesterday such as Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Lee Trevino, Jack Nicklaus, Fuzzy Zoeller, Hubert Green, Jim Thorpe, Miller Barber and many more had styles of swings that differed greatly from one another and were quite unorthodox, yet all worked so well? The bottom line is that each of them created great impact conditions that were virtually all the same.

Here are the top 20 ways to know if you are currently a victim of style-based teaching:

  1. Your golf instructor asked you which PGA Tour player you think has the best swing. You may have even taken a golf lesson where the instructor placed your swing on a screen side-by-side your favorite player’s swing and revealed to you the style differences.
  2. Your golf instructor explains the many key check points of the swing and the proper position of the hands, body and club at each checkpoint. Some instructors even give these checkpoints numbers.
  3. Your golf instructor explains that proper posture at address is key to a bio-mechanically sound swing. A strong movement exists today of “style-based” instructors using the new buzzword “biomechanics” to suggest the perfect swing style.
  4. Your golf instructor explains one correct backswing plane. Many instructors lead their students to create the perfect backswing plane, but it’s interesting how many differing opinions exist about what is the perfect backswing plane. Some suggest the shaft points above the plane at the three-quarter backswing position, while others suggest that the shaft should point at or even inside the plane. How much the vertical plane should shift in the backswing is another point of discussion among style-based teachers.
  5. Your golf instructor suggests the best top of the backswing position of the arms, wrists, club shaft and/or face angle. Many instructors prioritize how the club should look at the top of the backswing, that is, the club face is square and the shaft is parallel to the ground and parallel to the target.
  6. Your golf instructor suggests the proper degrees that the hips should turn on the backswing. Or they talk about “The X Factor,” which advises golfers to limit their hip turn on their backswing.
  7. Your golf instructor suggests the Vardon Grip. Meanwhile, PGA Tour winners and major champions have use various grips: interlock, 10-finger and even reverse overlap.
  8. Your golf instructor suggests you “keep your head down.”
  9. Your golf instructor suggests you “keep your eye on the ball.”
  10. Your golf instructor suggests you “keep your left arm straight.”
  11. Your golf instructor suggests you “finish high.”
  12. Your golf instructor suggests your swing is “too fast.”
  13. Your golf instructor discusses your “face angle rotation” on your backswing.
  14. Your golf instructor wants you to swing the “Stack and Tilt” swing.
  15. Your golf instructor wants you to swing the “A Swing.”
  16. Your golf instructor wants you to swing the “Square-to-Square” swing.
  17. Your golf instructor wants you to swing the “Natural Golf” swing.
  18. Your golf instructor wants you to swing the “Gravity Golf” swing.
  19. Your golf instructor wants you to swing the “One-Plane or Two-Plane” swing.
  20. Your golf instructor never discusses how swing changes are going to affect your impact.

My adversaries suggest I am writing these articles for self-promotion. Those who know me know I write these articles because I want to help the game I love and that has given me so much. Style-based teaching is nebulous, arbitrary, subjective, opinion-based, un-factual, unfounded and unproven. Impact-Based teaching is fundamentally the opposite. It is precise, fact-based, measurable, objective and results driven. That is why I retired from the PGA Champions Tour and chose to pursue my passion of helping golfers and instructors understand that golf is not an enigma nor a mystery that style-based methods leave one to believe, but rather a game of impact that can be measured and improved.

Here’s to better impact!

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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.

80 Comments

80 Comments

  1. Jim

    May 15, 2018 at 8:39 pm

    Clampett is a disciple of Homer Kelley’s yellow TGM book…. the nuttiest book on the golf swing ever. He doesn’t want to publicly admit it but his instruction reeks with TGM.

  2. Sean Lee

    Apr 30, 2018 at 10:07 pm

    Do not try to make you look special by telling non sense like this. PGA guys have more things in common when compared among themselves than to club golfers. World of golf instruction already has too much bs in it and it’s not even funny.

  3. Jack

    Apr 28, 2018 at 7:33 pm

    Bobby, I loved your book, and this article is spot on! I believe that most average golfers really have no idea how the club moves through the ball in a really good golf swing. Most golfers are trying to hit the back of the ball square on, instead of the inside of the ball while release ing the clubhead. That is why almost every club level golfer is steep, over the top, and hits a slice.

  4. Dan

    Apr 27, 2018 at 10:40 am

    I think this article is biased towards a better player. When you are talking about a player that already hits it pretty well and finds the center of the face most of the time I agree with most of what is said here. But when you are teaching older people, beginners, or some not as talented, posture and body positions play a huge role in finding the center of the club face or good impact position. I do not believe that there is any one template or style for all players but if their posture is bad and they can not maintain their posture while swinging, they need a style or template to follow. The key is choosing the correct one for the player.

  5. Sherwin

    Apr 26, 2018 at 9:29 am

    My game improved 100% when I met my current instructor whom help me focus solely on what I want the ball to do. Which, in turn, forces the club into different positions to produce the desired results. Who cares how your swing looks, it is the results that matter.

    Bobby is right!

  6. ochowie

    Apr 23, 2018 at 3:32 pm

    If players can consistently achieve the optimal impact point regardless of the remainder of their swing they probably don’t need lessons from you.

  7. Kess

    Apr 16, 2018 at 1:59 pm

    I like the point of the article but not necessarily the article itself. I have never taken a lesson but I was struggling to break 90 and read Impact Zone and that changed my game to where I’m breaking 80 and rarely see the 90’s. My main take aways were knowing my lead wrist position at impact and bottoming my swing in front of the ball. I also read Hogan’s book and it was OK but didn’t help much. Read Nicklaus’s book and had to put it down because my swing was getting wrecked. Knock Clampett all you want but the truth is mileage may vary with any instruction so it’s just about finding what works for you.

    • Orin

      Apr 16, 2018 at 2:28 pm

      Thank you Bobby Clampett PR department for that enlightening bit of propaganda. By chance, is there any discount offered to Golf WRX members?

      • Bobby Clampett

        Apr 16, 2018 at 4:55 pm

        Yes, there is a discount for Golf WRX members as long as their name isn’t Orin.

  8. Dale Owens

    Apr 16, 2018 at 1:46 pm

    Hal Sutton calls it chasing perfect. It has ruined many a talented golfer.

    • Orin

      Apr 16, 2018 at 2:32 pm

      But if you are ranked 125th on the tour your game and your swing need first aid… or it’s back to the mini-tours.

      • Adkskibum

        Apr 16, 2018 at 5:44 pm

        Yeah, well then maybe you just aren’t good enough. You’re good, but maybe it isn’t your swing. It’s your head, your heart, your guts, your nerve. There are lots of golfers with “pretty” swings who are also rans. Can you get the ball in the hole in crunch time? That’s the measure

      • RS

        Apr 28, 2018 at 1:56 pm

        If you’ve made it to 125th on tour then you have a fine swing. At that point it’s a split between subtle putting work and the mental game. The rest HAS to be good to get anywhere near 125th on tour.

  9. Jack Nash

    Apr 16, 2018 at 1:23 pm

    I don’t worry about Clampett’s impact zone. I just worry about, “do I have enough cigars, and beers in the cooler”, then go out and have fun. Thinking too much out there causes brain cramps. If you can’t have a bit of fun out there try another game.

  10. joro

    Apr 16, 2018 at 1:05 pm

    A great Golf Instructor, AKA Butch Harmon, take what you have and makes it work. These “Gurus” are great because they had the opportunity to work with great players who made the Instructors “great”. not the other way around. How many times have players won a Major and then gone to a “Guru” not to be heard of again. As Si Ri Pak said after going to Leadbetter, “it took him a couple of Months to set me back 2 years”, she was smart enough to get out. As Haney once said about what he did with Tiger, “I would watch him hit a ball and say nice shot all day” These guys and many others like them teach what they know, not what the student needs, and that applies to a lot of PGA Teachers also.

    If you want a good lesson go to someone who teaches what you need, not just changing your swing to clone someone else.

    • Orin

      Apr 16, 2018 at 2:30 pm

      But I love Tiger and I want his swing, his clothes, his clubs, his balls, his teeth, etc..

      • joro

        Apr 18, 2018 at 10:06 am

        That’s great but he would probably dump you in time for a Blond Waffle House waitress. : )

  11. GetRichOrTyTryon

    Apr 16, 2018 at 12:45 pm

    Age, athleticism, body type and coordination also being major contributing factors. Golf Tech can get you so left brain(or is it right) that it’s difficult to pull the trigger out on the course. If I can save anyone time and strokes don’t play golf swing on the course, play golf.

    • Orin

      Apr 16, 2018 at 2:34 pm

      Play play play play …. how about ‘perform’…. 😮

  12. Bob Jones

    Apr 16, 2018 at 11:58 am

    I have figured out how to make a golf swing work which takes into account my size, body shape, flexibility, and habitus. There are “flawed” movements in my swing that I do because that’s just what happens when I swing a golf club. I tried to take them out, and that made things worse, so I learned how to make them work FOR me. The result is that I hit the ball very straight and get reasonable distance for a guy in his late 60s. I don’t analyze any more. I just play.

    • Boyo

      Apr 16, 2018 at 12:58 pm

      You are Bob Jones. What would anyone expect?

  13. Dennis

    Apr 15, 2018 at 2:39 pm

    Great article! I see the collage players at the range all looking like clones of each other. There is evidence that today’s golf instruction is one cause of so many golf injuries.

  14. Steve Wozeniak

    Apr 15, 2018 at 11:25 am

    HILARIOUS coming from the MOST “style” based instructor in the game……my god……

    99 percent of people that come away from this guys “schools” are more confused then when they came in…….

    Hey nice try though Bob……

    • ogo

      Apr 15, 2018 at 7:24 pm

      Haven’t you figured it out yet?!! All the duffers just want to brag to their golfing buddies that they were at somebody’s golf school and the “feeel a lot better now about their golf swing” (if only they could think about everything they “learned”). 😀

    • Andrew Wood

      Apr 16, 2018 at 7:36 am

      I have taken lessons from a dozen of the top 50 instructors and the Impact zone golf school I took last month made more sense than any of them. In am striking the ball far better than I did a decade ago when I was off scratch and have the clearest undestanding ever of how to improve and get back there. When the student is ready then Master will appear!

    • farmer

      Apr 25, 2018 at 1:26 pm

      A TGM guy from the jump, who criticizes “numbered positions” in the swing? Considering good posture and a proper grip to be a bad thing? You have to have some fundamentals to achieve good impact. Good impact position is a result of good mechanics, however they may be defined.

  15. ogo

    Apr 15, 2018 at 10:22 am

    WOW!!!!! This article has topped the WRX website for 2 days!!! I bet the desperate gearheads are flocking to Clampett’s Impact-Based® Academy to find out how to make their WITB fancy clubs work on the golf course. 😛

  16. Tom Duckworth

    Apr 15, 2018 at 10:11 am

    He makes some good points but overall I don’t agree. Getting to a good position at impact is important and some people can have any kind of back swing and they make the corrections on the way down and have great impact. Having clean mechanics can make that easier. I do think some swing styles have hurt people the X Factor swing can be very hard on your back.
    Simple is better and safety and ease on the body should always be considered.
    I also very strongly disagree with SteveK I’m 62 and getting better week by week I still take lessons and still work on my game and I’m a pretty good golfer. I didn’t pick up a club until I was 25. I was also told at the time by a crusty old instructor that tall people can never be good at golf. That was right after he asked me if I could make the ball curve left and right and I did both on my first try.
    If you think you can’t get any better after a certain age you may as well hang up your clubs.

    • ogo

      Apr 15, 2018 at 10:30 am

      Congratulations, Tom… your inspiring story just confirms that commitment to golf will overcome inherent physical problems such as being too tall and too slim. Do you have an athletic background before taking up golf at age 25? Obviously you don’t carry a pot belly like most older rec golfers.

  17. Carlos Danger

    Apr 14, 2018 at 7:54 pm

    I must disagree. Golftec has fixed so many flaws I had in my swing (over the top, casting, balance) and my instructor encourages my own move, not a copy if a tour player. Sure, we look at things they all do, but not to copy exactly…
    Also, the 20 point list is garbage. Overall, just a poorly written article.

    • Devyn Ensign

      Apr 14, 2018 at 11:54 pm

      Absolutely agreed. That 20 point list is hilarious… clearly trying to discredit others methods. Just a terrible article

      • Kyle johnson

        Apr 21, 2018 at 1:33 am

        Devyn ensign, your comment should not be taken seriously considering you can’t even spell Devin correctly.

    • Caroline

      Apr 15, 2018 at 12:05 am

      So funny, Golftec gave you just what Mr. Clampett is talking about, everything they were fixing in your swing was what YOU needed to get proper impact…you had years of doing the wrong things built up trying to get to impact…..amazing now you know how? (Maybe) think about it had you started by working on impact you may have saved a lot of money because you would have known which faults you had were not getting you to impact correctly….

    • OG

      Apr 15, 2018 at 1:18 am

      You should have had an MRI in addition to the Golftec experience… just to cover all bases … 😀

    • OG

      Apr 15, 2018 at 1:19 am

      Golftec plus an MRI would have likely cured your many flaws … 😎

    • Jonathan

      Apr 17, 2018 at 9:22 am

      My experience with Golftec was totally different. Conceptually, it seemed to make sense. However, in practice the Golftec method is only as good as the instructors. Over several years i worked with at least 5 Golftec instructors, including two site managers. Only one of those was an actual PGA pro (he didn’t stay long with Golftec). These guys were all slaves to the numbers. When they got away from the numbers, their comments were often contradictory from lesson to lesson, between each other and to the sacred numbers.

      Look, I am not defending or supporting everything that is in the Clampett article. Find an actual teaching pro that will take the time to work with your swing characteristics, your body type, your athletic ability and them work with you to develop a repeating swing that fits you, not some ideal.

  18. Rich

    Apr 14, 2018 at 5:07 pm

    It’s just a way to hook a weak mind into a robotic method intending to make a “perfect”mechanical like swing which there is no such swing..Swing the stick,hit the ball ! What ever works, doesn’t have to be a picture “pretty”thing.
    Learn what control is and how to use it. Strong of mind,sound body, confidence, DO IT!!!

    • OG

      Apr 15, 2018 at 1:05 am

      The Clampett Robotic Method is founded by that great book “The Golfing Machine” by that equally great swing guru “Homer (Duh) Kelley”. If you haven’t attempted to read this yellow book, don’t, because it’s total rubbish.

      • Dave Tutelman

        Apr 16, 2018 at 7:12 am

        I have read Clampett’s book. I have read Kelley’s book. They have nothing whatsoever to do with each other.

        • ViagrGolfer

          May 3, 2018 at 12:37 pm

          But Clampett was pimping TGM as the best thing since slicing balls.

  19. larry

    Apr 14, 2018 at 4:02 pm

    terrible article. proper impact happens due to a good swing you can’t try and force a good impact position.

    • Caroline

      Apr 15, 2018 at 12:07 am

      Good thing you never told Moe Norman that….

      • OG

        Apr 15, 2018 at 1:13 am

        Moe (r.i.p.) was an obsessive-compulsive ball beater.

  20. Todd Dugan

    Apr 14, 2018 at 2:29 pm

    We can have our cake and eat it too. Teachers should continue to enjoy the freedom to teach whatever they want. The measure of success is simple; Is the student striking the ball better, yes or no? Measuring impact conditions is the best way to tell. When you measure impact, you measure performance. Is the impact location closer to center? Are the path and face closer to what is required for the desired ball flight? Don’t tell a student they’re going to get worse before they get better. Teach a student to strike the ball better…NOW!

    • Orin

      Apr 16, 2018 at 2:39 pm

      Yup… because if you told your student the truth, like lose about 50+lbs. off your belly, you would starve as a teacher. So just give the duffers astrological hope and send them home to try to figure out what they learned in their HEAD…!!!!

  21. EismanGolfAcademy

    Apr 14, 2018 at 10:26 am

    Well I got a full schedule of “victims” today on the lesson tee, can’t wait to go out there and just say nothing to them but measure impact. So let’s not discuss your face in the takeaway or wrist conditions and hopefully that -12.6 path cleans up on its on. Let’s not discuss how the body moves and tilts and see if that vert plane angle of 66 degrees with a driver just miraculously fixes itself. Mr. Clampett with all due respect closing the door on open discussion of the swing and calling people victims is what’s wrong with golf instruction. Telling some brilliant minds of the game that their “style” is wrong… is saying that they are uneducated in their profession. Maybe it’s not right for some and maybe some instructors don’t communicate it well, but keeping things simple in a complex movement is robbing students of knowledge on how to improve. Best of luck for those believers. Will always appreciate your opinion but a better understanding and “proof” of why these styles are wrong would have been a better article.

    • OG

      Apr 15, 2018 at 1:16 am

      The game of golf and instruction is a shrinking market… unless somebody wants to know why their WITB set of PXGs just don’t perform as advertised … 😮

  22. Andrew Cooper

    Apr 14, 2018 at 9:48 am

    Knowing where you want to be at impact is important, but there also has to be some understanding of how to get there. In many ways what shows up at impact, good or bad, is the result of what’s gone before. Impact is just one split second moment within the whole motion, and the club will be travelling at +100mph. You can’t consciously place your club and body in a correct impact position. Also, fixating over impact can lead to hitting at the ball, rather than through and past the ball-a big difference between pros and ams.

  23. DJ Morris

    Apr 14, 2018 at 5:43 am

    Forget all these positions and what makes a golfer successful, it all comes down to 3 things that the best players in the world all have in common: 1) They take one side of the course out of play. 2) Their swings repeat 3) They have an undeniable belief in themselves.

    I roomed with Jim Furyk on the AJGA Tour and have known him since I was 15 and he was made fun of when he first came on tour, but the one thing Jim never stopped doing was believing in himself. Now he has the 4th most earnings ever in professional golf, so who is laughing now:

    Jim Furyk
    Earnings: $67,977,577
    Major championships: 2003 U.S. Open
    PGA Tour wins: 17
    Lowest score on the PGA Tour: 58

    BTW, he is a great guy and is as humble today as he was 35 years ago. I actually roomed with him the year he broke through with his game and won on the AJGA Tour.

    • SteveK

      Apr 14, 2018 at 12:34 pm

      … and 4) Their neuro-muscular system is hard-wired, from childhood, resulting in a generally repeating swing. If you start golf in your pre-teens, your brain is engrammed with golfswing circuitry. If you attempt to learn as a mature adult it’s unlikely you will succeed.

    • SteveK

      Apr 14, 2018 at 12:46 pm

      4) Their neuro-muscular system is hard-wired from childhood resulting in a repeating swing. Starting golf in your pre-teens, your brain is engrammed with golfswing circuitry. If you attempt to learn as a mature adult success is unlikely.

      • steve s

        Apr 16, 2018 at 12:09 pm

        “Their neuro-muscular system is hard-wired from childhood resulting in a repeating swing. Starting golf in your pre-teens, your brain is engrammed with golfswing circuitry. If you attempt to learn as a mature adult success is unlikely.”

        Nonsense. If you have any athletic ability at all you can learn to play the game. One of my playing partners is an ex-college tennis player. He started golf at 44. He now plays to a 12 handicap and occasionally breaks 80. He loves the game and practices often. A little athletic ability and desire is all you need.

  24. Way

    Apr 14, 2018 at 3:06 am

    It’s true that getting the impact correct is an important factor in hitting the ball well; but the fact is, there are ways to get to that delivery mechanism to work, as people are all different with different anatomies and such – and the styles of movement might actually be even more important to get the body to get to the impact using each unique delivery mechanism for the strike, and therefore you cannot just dismiss any of this list at all in any way, shape or form, because it might be that, just one of those is enough to make it work for that one particular person.
    So Mr Clampett, with all due respect, don’t be so dismissive. You have to have an open mind.

    • OG

      Apr 15, 2018 at 1:23 am

      The “delivery mechanism” starts at the feet and then progresses upwards to the shoulders which fling the arms, hands and club towards the ball. Of course starting at the clubhead is a lot simpler for feeble minded golfers in distress.

  25. Ray McNamee

    Apr 14, 2018 at 2:56 am

    The entire 20 points trashed Leadbetter and a few others. I took lessons 25 years ago from the #1 teacher in golf and was told to let the “ball get in the way” of the swing. It took a year to learn and it was over in 3-4 years. I lost 25 yards off the tee and at least a full club in the irons. My experience is that the best ideas are from Joe Dante and Ben Hogan. The hands must set/hinge in a consistent manner in order to be square at impact, the weight must shift to the right on the backswing with a full shoulder turn and begin to move forward before the backswing is complete. The club should return to the address plane as close as possible at impact and the right side should continue through to a finish. Sounds like any athletic movement. Take it back with the left, shift and crush it with the right. It’s only worked for about 500 years… so far. And it doesn’t matter what it looks like.

  26. SteveK

    Apr 14, 2018 at 12:42 am

    All forces and torques generated in the golfswing are ultimately felt between your feet and the ground via the shoe soles. Your swing mechanics style is dependent on your body physique. If you are weak and inconsistent at your feet your golfswing right into impact will suffer immeasurably…. believe it.

  27. Rod Clarke

    Apr 13, 2018 at 10:35 pm

    Last year at Arnold Palmer Inivitational, there was a ceremonial drive by all the players in deference to the King. Players all lined up and drove a ball on the driving range. The tv coverage showed the players, were of all sizes, had different swing speeds and swings but had one thing in common and that was their setup at ball impact. It was amazing to see the consistency at impact. Get a video of your swing at impact and match it against those of scratch golfers and you’ll have something worthwhile to work on.

    • Way

      Apr 14, 2018 at 3:25 am

      You’re being deluded by what’s called “geometrical-optical illusions” that they all appear to be the same of some form and our psychology wanting to make them all collectively the same, because you are stopping the image at only the moment of impact and disregarding the rest of the motion of swing:
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geometrical-optical_illusions#Examples_of_geometrical-optical_Illusions
      Besides, if you take away the rest of the other aspects of the swing, then all you do see if the shaft with a clubhead at impact hitting a ball. That’s all golf is, a stick with a metal slab or block of some shape hitting a round ball and moving it forward. But the fact that the swings, the delivery mechanisms, are all different, are as profound as how every human’s personality is as different as his anatomy. That’s more important than realizing that the impacts are all the same, because the person has to figure out a way to get to that impact with force and speed

      • Dave Tutelman

        Apr 16, 2018 at 7:18 am

        Exactly, Way! And the drills in Clampett’s book are about impact, not about where you are at P4 or P6 or whether you “crossed the line” at transition. There are lots of ways to get there, and he recognizes that.

  28. Matt

    Apr 13, 2018 at 8:20 pm

    Says the guy selling golf instruction and books. The idea that impact can be isolated and worked on while ignoring the prior contributing motions is nonsense.

    • Way

      Apr 14, 2018 at 3:26 am

      Bingo

    • SteveK

      Apr 14, 2018 at 12:42 pm

      Bobby and all the PGA-certified teachers would go out of business if they told all the decrepit rec golfers seeking an instant cure for their many golfswing problems that their bodies are uncoordinated and intensive gym work is necessary.

  29. ogo

    Apr 13, 2018 at 6:09 pm

    Read: The LAWs of the Golf Swing: Body-Type Your Swing and Master Your Game by Jim Suttie, Mike Adams, and T.J. Tomasi

  30. ogo

    Apr 13, 2018 at 6:00 pm

    Bobby forgot to mention that his downfall began after reading Homer Kelley’s TGM (The Golfing Machine) and believing it! 😮

  31. David Aceto

    Apr 13, 2018 at 5:43 pm

    i have tried every swing type ledbetter ballard chuck hogan eddie merrins and i still struggle except when i do the feet together drill i really compress the ball and actually hit it the same yardages go figure

    • ogo

      Apr 13, 2018 at 6:06 pm

      Have you tried: “The LAWs of the Golf Swing: Body-Type Your Swing and Master Your Game
      Book by Jim Suttie, Mike Adams, and T.J. Tomasi” ?
      Google it.

  32. george

    Apr 13, 2018 at 4:44 pm

    “golfers are paying very dearly to learn useless check lists but they are not learning how to play the game of golf. Proof of the true fundamentals of motion will forever eliminate the check lists..
    …… There is a place and a need for check lists but not in golf! Hope this helps some.” Gerry Hogan Copyright © all rights reserved October 2009

    http://forums.iseekgolf.com/topic/31955-ask-gerry-hogan/page-3

    • george

      Apr 13, 2018 at 4:47 pm

      so no check lists, whether about positions or impact
      are of any value, without the understanding of the true fundamentals of motion.

  33. Henkedejk

    Apr 13, 2018 at 4:23 pm

    Interesting article. I practice without a coach and thus I tend to focus on impact and ballflight rather than angles, look and such.

    Can you suggest where ro read more on impact focused training, perhaps also find good drills.

    Thanks,

  34. Luke Demaree

    Apr 13, 2018 at 3:03 pm

    I couldn’t agree with this article more. used to do the adam scott/rory mcilroy finish and it looked fantastic! Too bad my shot would slice so far right i scrambled every hole. it wasn’t until i was told about impact that i started playing good golf shots. my swing (and my scores) will never be compared to a PGA pro but the shots i hit are significantly better now that they were when i cared about swing style.

  35. Jim Donegan

    Apr 13, 2018 at 3:01 pm

    I see points in the article that are relatable from lessons I received at Golftec. I always felt they tried too hard to teach me a singular correct way to swing, not using my natural swing at all. Wish I could afford attending his golf school!

  36. Sean Foster-Nolan

    Apr 13, 2018 at 2:46 pm

    I like the article. I always thought the swing was about impact…it doesn’t matter how you get there, as long as you do, as opposed obsessing over all that other “stuff”. I also think it was Arnold Palmer who said you don’t hit the ball with your back swing.

  37. Rob Pfeil

    Apr 13, 2018 at 1:43 pm

    I remember being taught that my club face at the top of the swing needed to be inline with the target and not shut (as I have always done). It single handedly ruined my golf game and led me to getting burnout when I was in high school.

    I have yet to see a swing on the PGA Tour that has the face square to the target. It has absolutely no bearing on what you do the rest of the swing. In fact, to get to that position, you have to completely change how your wrists are from the beginning of your swing and then get back to that point at impact. It’s wasted energy. Since then, I’ve tried to go to a few different teachers and each time they start off with one of the things in this list of 20 and I immediately check out and never go back.

    The source of this problem (in regards to the elite pro’s/amateur’s) is that everyone thinks they don’t hit it good enough. But watch a pro play 18 holes and tell me how many shots they hit perfect with the expectations you give yourself in a round? I see pro’s hit a wedge to 20 feet and move on like it’s nothing. I see guys at my course do the same and they are slamming clubs and pissed they didn’t hit it to 2 feet.

    The problem isn’t how people hit the ball, it’s what you do inside 100 yards, putting, and mental game.

    • Bill

      Jan 28, 2020 at 5:52 pm

      Dear Rob – this is probably the greatest comment I have ever read on any golf board. period. and I have probably read thousands and thousands. thank you for this.

  38. TigerMom

    Apr 13, 2018 at 12:10 pm

    The 20 point list is a little unfair. It depends on what the player is currently doing that is leading to a problematic swing. If you are correcting that issue, fine. It’s another thing to try to remold the swing into some preconceived package — this I disagree with.

  39. Michael

    Apr 13, 2018 at 12:07 pm

    I wish I’d been taught this 30 years ago. I’ve been wasting time working on finding the right body mechanics and tempo (when I found it I called it ‘mojo’ because it was unexplainable and fleeting) instead of focusing on impacting the middle of the clubface and the ground correctly. I’m hitting so much better now, finally, after spending some time with impact tape and watching divot patterns.

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Opinion & Analysis

The differences between good and bad club fitters—and they’re not what you think

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Club fitting is still a highly debated topic, with many golfers continuing to believe they’re just not good enough to be fit. That couldn’t be further from the truth, but it’s a topic for another day.

Once you have decided to invest in your game and equipment, however, the next step is figuring out where to get fit, and working with a fitter.  You see, unlike professionals in other industries, club fitting “certification” is still a little like the wild west. While there are certification courses and lesson modules from OEMs on how to fit their specific equipment, from company to company, there is still some slight variance in philosophy.

Then there are agnostic fitting facilities that work with a curated equipment matrix from a number of manufacturers. Some have multiple locations all over the country and others might only have a few smaller centralized locations in a particular city. In some cases, you might even be able to find single-person operations.

So how do you separate the good from the bad? This is the million-dollar question for golfers looking to get fit. Unless you have experience going through a fitting before or have a base knowledge about fitting, it can feel like an intimidating process. This guide is built to help you ask the right questions and pay attention to the right things to make sure you are getting the most out of your fitting.

The signs of a great fitter

  • Launch monitor experience: Having some type of launch monitor certification isn’t a requirement but being able to properly understand the interpret parameters is! A good fitter should be able to explain the parameters they are using to help get the right clubs and understand how to tweak specs to help you get optimized. The exact labeling may vary depending on the type of launch monitor but they all mostly provide the same information….Here is an example of what a fitter should be looking for in an iron fitting: “The most important parameter in an iron fitting” 
  • Communication skills: Being able to explain why and how changes are being made is a telltale sign your fitter is knowledgeable—it should feel like you are learning something along the way. Remember, communication is a two-way street so also being a good listener is another sign your working with a good fitter.
  • Transparency: This involves things like talking about price, budgets, any brand preferences from the start. This prevents getting handed something out of your price range and wasting swings during your fit.
  • A focus on better: Whether it be hitting it further and straighter with your driver or hitting more greens, the fitting should be goal-orientated. This means looking at all kinds of variables to make sure what you are getting is actually better than your current clubs. Having a driver you hit 10 yards farther isn’t helpful if you don’t know where it’s going….A great fitter that knows their stuff should quickly be able to narrow down potential options to 4-5 and then work towards optimizing from there.
  • Honesty and respect: These are so obvious, I shouldn’t even have to put it on the list. I want to see these traits from anybody in a sales position when working with customers that are looking to them for knowledge and information…If you as the golfer is only seeing marginal gains from a new product or an upgrade option, you should be told that and given the proper information to make an informed decision. The great fitters, and I’ve worked with a lot of them, will be quick to tell a golfer, “I don’t think we’re going to beat (X) club today, maybe we should look at another part of your bag where you struggle.” This kind of interaction builds trust and in the end results in happy golfers and respected fitters.

The signs of a bad fitter

  • Pushing an agenda: This can come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. Whether it be a particular affinity towards certain brands of clubs or even shafts. If you talk to players that have all been to the same fitter and their swings and skill levels vary yet the clubs or brands of shafts they end up with (from a brand agnostic facility) seem to be eerily similar it might be time to ask questions.
  • Poor communications: As you are going through the fitting process and warming up you should feel like you’re being interviewed as a way to collect data and help solve problems in your game. This process helps create a baseline of information for your fitter. If you are not experiencing that, or your fitter isn’t explaining or answering your questions directly, then there is a serious communication problem, or it could show lack of knowledge depth when it comes to their ability.
  • Lack of transparency: If you feel like you’re not getting answers to straightforward questions or a fitter tells you “not to worry about it” then that is a big no-no from me.
    Side note: It is my opinion that golfers should pay for fittings, and in a way consider it a knowledge-gathering session. Of course, the end goal for the golfer is to find newer better fitting clubs, and for the fitter to sell you them (let’s be real here), but you should never feel the information is not being shared openly.
  • Pressure sales tactics: It exists in every industry, I get it, but if you pay for your fitting you are paying for information, use it to your advantage. You shouldn’t feel pressured to buy, and it’s always OK to seek out a knowledgeable second opinion (knowledgeable being a very key word in that sentence!).  If you are getting the hard sell or any combination of the traits above, there is a good chance you’re not working with the right fitter for you.

Final thoughts

Great fitters with great reputations and proper knowledge have long lists, even waiting lists, of golfers waiting to see them. The biggest sign of a great fitter is a long list of repeat customers.

Golf is a game that can be played for an entire lifetime, and just like with teachers and swing coaches, the good ones are in it for the long haul to help you play better and build a rapport—not just sell you the latest and greatest (although we all like new toys—myself included) because they can make a few bucks.

Trust your gut, and ask questions!

 

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Podcasts

TG2: TaylorMade P7MB & P7MC Review | Oban CT-115 & CT-125 Steel Shafts

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Took the new TaylorMade P-7MB and P-7MC irons out on the course and the range. The new P-7MB and P-7MC are really solid forged irons for the skilled iron players. Great soft feel on both, MB flies really low, and the MC is more mid/low launch. Oban’s CT 115 & 125 steel shafts are some of the most consistent out there. Stout but smooth feel with no harsh vibration at impact.

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes or here to listen on Spotify.

Want more GolfWRX Radio? Check out our other shows (and the full archives for this show) below. 

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Opinion & Analysis

The Wedge Guy: Improve your transition for better wedge play

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In my opinion, one of the most misunderstood areas of the golf swing is the transition from backswing to downswing, but I don’t read much on this in the golf publications. So, here’s my take on the subject.

Whether it’s a short putt, chip or pitch, half wedge, full iron or driver swing, there is a point where the club’s motion in the backswing has to come to a complete stop–even if for just a nano-second–and reverse direction into the forward swing. What makes this even more difficult is that it is not just the club that is stopping and reversing direction, but on all but putts, the entire body from the feet up through the body core, shoulders, arms and hands.

In my observation, most golfers have a transition that is much too quick and jerky, as they are apparently in a hurry to generate clubhead speed into the downswing and through impact. But, just as you (hopefully) begin your backswing with a slow take-away from the ball, a proper start to the downswing is also a slower move, starting from this complete stop and building to maximum clubhead speed just past impact. If you will work on your transition, your ball striking and distance will improve, as will your accuracy on your short shots and putts. Let’s start there.

In your wedge play, your primary objective is to apply just the exact amount of force to propel the ball the desired distance. In order to do that, it makes sense to move the club slower, as that allows more precision. I like to think of the pendulum on a grandfather clock as a great guide to tempo and transition. As the weight goes back and forth, it comes to a complete stop at each end, and achieves maximum speed at the exact bottom of the arc. If you put that picture in your head when you chip and putt, you will develop a tempo that encourages a smooth transition at the end of the backswing.

The idea is to achieve a gradual acceleration from the end of the backswing to the point of impact, but for most golfers, this type of swing is likely much slower than yours is currently. I encourage you to not be in a hurry to force this acceleration, as that causes a quick jab with the hands, because the shoulder rotation and slight body rotation cannot move that quickly from its end-of-backswing rotation.

Here’s a drill to help you picture this kind of swing pace. Drawing on that grandfather clock visual, hold your wedge at the very end of the grip with two fingers, and get it moving like the clock pendulum–back and through. Watch the tempo and transition for a few moments, and then try to mimic that with your short or half swing tempo. No faster, no slower. You can even change how far you pull the club up to start this motion to see what happens to the pendulum tempo on longer swings.

An even better exercise is to have a friend hold a club in this manner right in front of you while you are practicing your chipping or pitching swing and try to “shadow” that motion with your swings. You will likely find that your transition is much too fast and jerky to give you the results you are after.

If you will practice this, I can practically guarantee your short-range transition will become really solid and repeatable. From there, it’s just a matter of extending the length of the swing to mid-range pitches, full short irons, mid-irons, fairway woods, and driver–all while feeling for that gradual transition that makes for great timing, sequencing, and tempo.

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