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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.

79 Comments

79 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.

  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

A new NCAA transfer rule gets passed… and college coaches are NOT happy

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New rules just keep on coming from the NCAA; college coaches are not happy about this one.

In a summer of block buster coaching changes, the NCAA has done its best to stay atop the news cycle by making some significant changes, which will impact the recruitment process. In an article two months ago entitled “The effect the NCAA’s new recruiting rules will have on college golf,” I spoke to college coaches about a new rule, which will not allow unofficial or official visits until September 1 of the players Junior Year. To go along with this rule, the NCAA has also put in place a new recruiting calendar which will limit the sum of the days of off campus recruiting between a head and assistant coach to 45 days starting August 1, 2018.

The 45-day rule will have several potential impacts for both recruits and assistant coaches. For recruits, it is likely that after a couple (2-3) evaluations, coaches will make offers and ask for speed responses to ensure they are not missing out on other options. I also think you will see far less assistant coaches recruiting, which ultimately hurts their opportunities to learn the art of recruitment.

The new transfer rule

In the past, players were subject to asking their present institution for either permission to contact other schools regarding transfer, or a full release.

Now, starting October 15, players can simply inform their institution of their intensions to leave and then start contacting other schools to find an opportunity. This is a drastic shift in policy, so I decided to poll college coaches to get their reactions.

The poll was conducted anonymously via Survey Monkey. Participation was optional and included 6 questions:

  1. New NCAA Legislation will allow players to transfer without a release starting October 2018. Do you support this rule change?
  2. Do you believe that this rule will have APR implications?
  3. Who do you think will benefit most from this rule?
  4. What are the benefits of allowing students to transfer without a release? What are the potential harms?
  5. New NCAA Legislation will make December a dead period for recruiting off campus. Do you support this legislation?
  6. What implications do you see for this rule?

In all, 62 Division I golf coaches responded, or about 10 percent of all Division I coaches in Men’s and Women’s Golf. The results show that 81.25 percent of DI coaches said that they do NOT support the rule change for transfers.

Also, 90 percent of coaches polled believe that the rule will have APR implications. APR is Academic Progress Rate which holds institutions accountable for the academic progress of their student-athletes through a team-based metric that accounts for the eligibility and retention of each student-athlete for each academic term.

The APR is calculated as follows:

  • Each student-athlete receiving athletically related financial aid earns one point for staying in school and one point for being academically eligible.
  • A team’s total points are divided by points possible and then multiplied by 1,000 to equal the team’s Academic Progress Rate.
  • In addition to a team’s current-year APR, its rolling four-year APR is also used to determine accountability.

Teams must earn a four-year average APR of 930 to compete in championships.

While the APR is intended as an incentive-based approach, it does come with a progression of penalties for teams that under-perform academically over time.

The first penalty level limits teams to 16 hours of practice per week over five days (as opposed to 20 over six days), with the lost four hours to be replaced with academic activities.

A second level adds additional practice and competition reductions, either in the traditional or non-championship season, to the first-level penalties. The third level, where teams could remain until their rate improves, includes a menu of possible penalties, including coaching suspensions, financial aid reductions and restricted NCAA membership.

Clearly coaches are not happy about the move and feel that the rule unfairly benefits both the student athletes and major conference schools, who may have a swell of calls around middle of October as Student athletes play great fall golf and look to transfer. Although coaches are unhappy about the new rule, it is very difficult to predict what direct impact the rule will have on teams; coaches are extremely smart and understand recruiting and development within the frame work of college better than anyone can imagine. As a result, I think coaches will react in many ways which are impossible to predict.

The survey also asked, “new NCAA Legislation will make December a dead period for recruiting off campus. Do you support this legislation?” For this, coaches were more divided with 45 percent in favor of the rule, and 55 percent not.

Although coaches supported the legislation, many (41/62) suggested that it would potentially hurt international recruiting at tournaments like Doral and the Orange Bowl and they had, in the past, used December as a time to recruit.

As we move forward with these changes, here are some potential things that recruits, and their families should consider, including consequences of the rules:

  1. With a limit of 45 days and these transfer rules, it is likely that coaches will be doing significantly more investigation into a player’s personalities and family situation to make sure they know what they are getting.
  2. Coaches may also start skipping over better players in favor of kids they think will be a good fit and are likely to stay
  3. Rosters may get bigger, as coaches are trying to have larger numbers to potentially offset transfers

Unfortunately, we enter a new era of rules at the worst time; we have never had a more competent and deep group of college coaches, the clear majority of whom are tremendous stewards of the game. Hopefully this rule will have insignificant effect on the continued growth of college golf but only time will tell.

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Opinion & Analysis

Is golf actually a team sport?

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Do a little research on the top PGA Tour players, and what you’ll see is that most (if not all of them) employ a team of diverse professionals that support their efforts to perform on the golf course. Take two-time major champion Zach Johnson; he has a team that includes a caddie, a swing instructor, a sports psychologist, a physiotherapist, an agent, a statistician, a spiritual mentor, a financial adviser… and of course his wife.

“I know this seems like a lot, and maybe even too much,” Johnson readily admitted. “But each individual has their place. Each place is different in its role and capacity. In order for me to practice, work out and just play golf, I need these individuals along the way. There is a freedom that comes with having such a great group that allows me to just play.”

My best guess is that Zach Johnson commits hundreds of thousands of dollars each year to this team, and I assume most players on the leading professional tours are making significant investments in their “teams.” There are three questions that jump out at this point. First, is a team necessary? Second, how can anyone compete without one? And third, how to pay for it?

From the club player to the collegiate player to the aspiring/touring professional, everyone can benefit from a team that offers individual instruction, support, guidance, and encouragement. Such a team, however, needs to be credible, timely, beneficial and affordable.

To be affordable, serious golfers should build their team one piece at a time. The obvious first choice is a swing coach. Golf swing coaches charge from $100-$1,500 per hour. The cost explains why players have historically been responsible for their own practice. The next piece, which is a newly developing trend, should be a performance coach who specializes in the supervision of practice, training and tournament preparation. Performance coaching on-site fees range from $200 to $3,000 per day.

So is team support essential for a player to be as good as he/she can be? My research says it is. When a player schedules a practice session, that session is usually based on what the player likes to do or wants to do. “Best Practices” utilized by world-class athletes suggest strongly that great progress in training always occurs when someone other than the player writes, administers and supervises the programs and sessions. The team approach says the player should focus on what needs to be done. Sometimes what the player wants to do and the things needed to be done are the same thing; sometimes they aren’t.

Now for the question of how to pay for it all. Wealthy players, or those with substantial or institutional support, have access to what they need or want… whatever the cost. If you use an on-site coach, teacher or other professional you will be paying for blocks of time. Fees can be hourly, weekly, monthly, yearly or lifetime arrangements based upon several factors. If your coach of choice is not local, you can also incur travel and per diem expenses. The process of paying for someone’s time can really add up. You can review what I charge for various services that require my attendance at edmyersgolf.com.

For those of you who don’t have easy access to on-site expertise or don’t want to incur the expense, I want to offer an approach that business, industry, colleges/universities and entrepreneurs are turning to: “Distance Coaching.” Distance learning is made possible through modern technology. In today’s world, expertise can be delivered using FaceTime, Skype, texting, email and (old fashion) phone calls. Textbooks, videos, specific programs and workbooks can be accessed from anywhere at any time by anyone with a desire to do so… and who knows what’s coming in the future. Through Distance Coaching, individuals can employ professional expertise on an as-needed basis without incurring huge costs or expenses.

The primary team expenses that can be avoided are those associated with face-to-face, on-site visits or experiences. Distance Coaching brings whatever any player needs, wants or desires within financial reach. For example, a player in Australia can walk onto the practice ground and have that day’s practice schedule delivered to a personal device by his/her performance coach. The player then forwards the results of that session back to the coach — let’s say in Memphis, Tennessee. The player is then free to move onto other activities knowing that the performance, training and preparation process is engaged and functioning. In the same vein, that same player in Australia may have moved into learning mode and he/she is now recording the golf swing and is sending it to the swing teacher of choice for analysis and comment.

So what is the cost of Distance Coaching? Teachers, trainers and coaches set their own fees based upon their business plan. Some require membership, partnership or some other form of commitment. For example, I offer free performance coaching with the purchase of one of my books or programs, as do others. Where face-to-face, on-site fees for performance coaching is available for $200 a day, the same expertise from the same coach can cost as little as $50 a month using the distance format, tools and technology. I highly recommend that players responsibly research the options available to them and then build the best team that fits their games, desires and goals. I’m happy to forward a guide of what to look for in a performance coach; just ask for it at edmyersgolf@gmail.com.

Back to Zach Johnson; he recently admitted that his lack of recent success could be traced to his lack of focus and practice discipline. Additional, he concedes that he has been practicing the wrong things. “It goes back to the basics,” he said. “I have to do what I do well. Truth be told, what I’m practicing now is more on my strengths than my weaknesses.”

Zach Johnson has a great team, but as he concedes, he still needs to put in the work.

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Opinion & Analysis

What is “feel” in putting… and how do you get it?

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You’re playing a course for the first time, so you arrive an hour early to warm-up. You make your way toward the practice green and you see a sign at the first tee that reads, “GREEN SPEED TODAY 11.”  That brings up two issues:

  1. How did they arrive at that number?
  2. How is that information valuable to me?

How did they arrive at that number?

They used what’s known as a stimpmeter — a device that’s used to measure the speed of a green. With a stimpmeter, the green’s surface is tested by rolling a ball down the 30-inch ramp that is tilted downward at a 20-degree angle. The number of feet the ball rolls after leaving the ramp is an indication of the green’s speed. The green-speed test is conducted on a flat surface. A total of three balls are rolled in three different directions. The three balls must then finish within eight inches of each other for the test to be valid.

For example, if the ball is rolled down the ramp and were to stop at 8 feet, the green would be running at an “8.” Were the ball to roll down the ramp and stop at 12 feet, the green would be running at a “12.”

Stimpmeter history

The stimpmeter was invented by Edward S. Stimpson, Sr., a Massachusetts State Amateur Champion and former Harvard Golf Team Captain. After attending the 1935 U.S. Open at Oakmont, he saw the need for a universal testing device after watching Gene Sarazen, who was at the top of his game, putt a ball off the green. He was of the opinion that the greens were unreasonably fast, but he had no way to prove it — thus the motivation for creating the invention.

The device is now used by superintendents to make sure all of their greens are rolling close to the same speed. This ensures that golfers are not guessing from one putt to another if a green is fast or slow based on the way it is maintained. The device is also used by tournament officials who want to make sure that green speed is not too severe.

Do Stimp readings matter for my game?

Not very much. That piece of abstract knowledge is of little value until you can translate it into your own personal feel for the speed of the putt. There is a method that will allow you to turn green speed into a legitimate feel, however, and you don’t even need a stimpmeter or a stimp reading to do it. I call it “Setting Your Own Stimpmeter.”

Before we get to how to do it, the first step is to determine if the putting green is the same speed as the greens on the course. The best source of information in this regard are the professionals working in the golf shop. They will be happy to share this information with you. You only need to ask. Assuming that the speed of the putting green is close to the speed of the greens on the course, you are ready to begin setting your own stimpmeter. This is done by inputting data into your neuromuscular system by rolling putts and visually observing the outcome.

Contrary to what most golfers believe, a golfer’s feel for distance is based in the eyes — not in the hands, which only records tactile information. It’s just like basketball. On the court, you look at the distance to the hoop and respond accordingly. While you would feel the ball in your hands, it doesn’t play a role in determining the proper distance to the hoop. Based on what you saw with your eyes, you would access the data that had been previously inputted through shooting practice.

Setting your own Stimpmeter

  1. Start by finding a location on the putting green that is flat and roughly 15 feet away from the fringe.
  2. Using five balls, start rolling putts one at a time toward the fringe. The objective is to roll them just hard enough for them to finish against the edge.
  3. You may be short of the fringe or long, but it is important that you do not judge the outcome— just observe, because the feel for distance is visually based.
  4. You should not try and judge the feel of the putt with your hands or any other part of your body. You can only process information in one sensory system at a time — that should be the eyes.
  5. You should continue to roll balls until you’ve reach the point that most of them are consistently finishing against the fringe. Once you can do that, you have successfully set you stimpmeter.

The key to the entire process is allowing yourself to make a subconscious connection between what your eyes have observed and the associated outcome. You must then trust what you have learned at a sub-conscious level. A conscious attempt to produce a given outcome will short-circuit the system. When it comes to judging speed, you must be prepared to surrender your conscious mind to your sub-conscious mind, which is infinitely wiser and more capable of calculating speed. Want proof? Work through the steps I’ve outlined below. .

  1. After having loaded the data as described in the exercise above, pace off a 25-foot putt.
  2. Using the same five balls, putt to the hole as you would normally using your conscious mind to control the outcome.
  3. Mark the location of the five balls with a tee pushing them down until they are level with the surface of the green.
  4. Allow your eyes to work slowly from the ball to the hole while clearing your conscious mind of any thought.
  5. Using the same five balls, putt to the hole allowing your subconscious mind to control the outcome.
  6. Compare the proximity of the five putts that you just hit to those marked with a tee. What do you observe?

Did you have trouble clearing your mind of any conscious thought? Assuming that your conscious mind intruded at any point, the outcome would be negatively affected. You should then repeat the exercise but this time, emptying your mind of any thought. You will have mastered the technique when you are able to quiet your conscious mind and allow your subconscious to take over.

This technique will improve your proximity to the hole on longer putts. And you know what that means? Fewer three-putts!

Editor’s Note: Rod Lindenberg has authored a book entitled “The Three-Putt Solution”  that is now available through Amazon. 

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