In the grand tradition of Golf Digest’s “Tweets of the Year,” I present the best tweet of 2012 from each of the 10 best men’s golfers on Twitter.
Unfortunately, the Nos. 5, 7 and 10 in the Official World Golf Ranking— Misters Oosthuizen, Scott, and Snedeker — aren’t active in the Twitterverse. However, the 13th ranked golfer in the world, Ian Poulter, more than makes up for their absence with the volume of his tweets.
Rory McIlroy: OWGR No. 1
In response to an ill-informed tweet by former professional hockey player, Jeff O’Neill, Rory McIlroy pointed to his multiple major championship victories. In doing so, the golfer effectively dropped his gloves and beat down the former Hartford Whaler.
It’s not clear why the often venomous O’Neill was taking issue McIlroy, or which “chirps” he objected to, but as O’Neill is both a sports fan and a golfer, one would think he’d be more aware of Rory’s record. Apparently not.
Luke Donald: OWGR No. 2
No. Luke Donald was not laughing at Gil Hanse preparing food…
During the Deutsche Bank Championship, Donald took to Twitter to disparage the architect who re-designed portions of TPC Boston. His tweet was meant to be a DM. Unfortunately for Donald, though, it wasn’t and his assessment of Hanse was broadcast to all of his followers. More immediately inconvenient for the golfer was the tweeting of his cell phone number, which he also meant to DM.
Donald quickly deleted the tweet and issued an apology, but the entry lives on in an abundance of screen captures and blog posts.
Tiger Woods: OWRG No. 3
I assume that Tiger Woods’ presence on Twitter is primarily the result of the prodding of the marketing arm of Team Tiger. Even so, amongst the bland, contrived and largely formulaic tweets coming from the @TigerWoods handle, there are a few chirps which seem like they come from Woods himself and are representative of the contents of the mind of the Tiger at a particular moment.
Such a moment came after Roger Federer’s epic battle with Andy Murray. Woods is a friend of Federer and often attends the U.S. Open, so it’s likely he actually watched the match and that the tweet represents his true sentiments, which is rare in any Woodsian public utterance.
Justin Rose: OWGR No. 4
Justin Rose’s response to Adam Scott’s slow burn at the Open Championship is notable both for the English spelling of “colors” and for his honest and opportune response to the event. In less than 140 characters, Rose expressed his feelings about his friend’s pitiable surrender of the Claret Jug. In doing so, he voiced publicly what so many golf fans were feeling in a uniquely personal way.
Lee Westwood: OWGR No. 6
Westwood hasn’t been tweeting much over the past few months. This is a shame, as we’re being deprived of utterances nearly incomprehensible to the average American, like the one above. I think Westwood was talking about a couple of soccer games, although he may have been referencing deviant bedroom practices…I’m not entirely sure.
Bubba Watson: OWGR No. 8
Bubba Watson’s tweet following his Masters victory conveyed the surreal nature of one’s first major championship victory and what it’s like to have recently arrived at the pinnacle of success, rather unexpectedly.
“Crazy day,” doesn’t really begin to sum up Bubba’s experience. But really, what can he say, at the end of the day, returning home, unheralded winner of the Masters? Not surprising he’d doubt reality for a minute, or think he’s living a dream. It’s similar to the moment when an Oscar winner returns home with his award…reflecting in the silence, what else is there to say? #awesome
Jason Dufner: OWGR No. 9
Dufner’s tweet is great, because, well, a dip-packing, adoptive Alabama good ole’ boy quoting Kanye West is fantastic. Such are the wonders of the Duf.
Webb Simpson: OWGR No. 11
Easily my favorite golf-related tweet of 2012, Webb Simpson took an absurd attempt to ruin his moment in the sun and shrugged it off in a way Bob Costas couldn’t as it happened—You’ll recall Costas awkward indignation and grumpy declaration “…always something to spice matters up.”
The newly-crowned U.S. Open champion then took to Twitter to make light of the situation, tweeting a screen capture of himself and the renegade Junglebird. The traditional approaches to such a situation would have been to
- ignore it, or
- decry the infiltration of the sanctum of the USGA: the U.S. Open.
Simpson went off-script and handled the situation perfectly, reclaiming his special moment in an unexpected way.
Keegan Bradley: OWGR No. 12
In the midst of the presidential debate when harsh partisan views permeated Twitter, Keegan Bradley emerged as the lone voice of rational discourse. Bradley pointed out the elephant on the debate stage: the belly putter question.
Ian Poulter: OWGR No. 13
Ian Poulter tweets a lot about a variety of topics. His most recent tweets, at this writing, are about his iPhone, his clothing company, the Orlando Magic game, his equipment and his Christmas haircut. Lost in the torrent of tweets, the pink, and the plaid is the fact that Poulter is an incredibly passionate and dedicated golfer with a real will to win.
The former assistant pro is a dominant Ryder Cup player (8-3-0) and has won 16 times around the world. In response to critical tweets regarding his anger on the course during Tiger Woods’ World Challenge event, Poulter defended himself, citing passion as an essential attribute of anyone who legitimately wants to win a golf tournament. Poulter’s logic seems to indicate that the pros who don’t show passion aren’t playing to win, which is a bold claim.
Clampett: Is confusion the leading cause of golfers quitting the game?
It seems that lately I’ve had a run of golfers attending my two-day Signature School with similar stories.
“Bobby, I have too many swing thoughts! I don’t know what I should think about when I swing.” Nearly without exception, these golfers tell me that their increased frustration had led to a deterioration of their game. It’s really a shame, because many of these frustrated golfers were at one time low, single-digit handicap players that had fallen to bogey-level golf.
In these schools, I have the time to start peeling back the onion with each student, and I’m hearing the same story over and over. My first question is always, “How did you find out about us?” Usually, it’s through referral or the result of an internet search for instruction help. My second questions is, “What do you hope to accomplish in our two days together?” They almost always respond, “Bobby, my head is spinning with too many swing thoughts. I don’t know what to do. Your approach to impact makes the most sense I’ve seen. That’s why I’m here.”
Statistics indicate that 4 million golfers quit the game in the United States every year. And if you polled each of these 4 million golfers, you’d find confusion to be the common denominator in their decision to quit.
I googled “golf instruction” and received more than 33 million results. Then I went to “YouTube” and typed in “Golf Tip.” There were 932,000 results. Scores of golfers get emails everyday suggesting a new thought or idea to improve their game. They watch television and pick up some more advice. They subscribe to golf magazines suggesting all kinds of ideas. Then they go to the range or course and put as much of it into action as their memories and bodies will allow… only to find it just doesn’t work! They’re farther away from playing good golf than they were when they began seeking out these swing fixes.
Many of my students are avid golfers who come to my schools on the brink of quitting the game all together. One student’s story was so sad. He confessed that no one at his club wanted to play with him anymore because his game had declined so sharply. He was considering selling his membership. In tears, he shared with us that all of his friends were members of his club.
Why is there all this confusion around the golf swing? There are two simple reasons.
The first involves the idea that “style-based” teaching is still the most common approach to improving a golfer’s game, and in my opinion, this doesn’t work very well for most golfers. Style-based instruction centers around a certain look. These teachers ask golfers to set up to the ball this way, get in these backswing positions, make this move on the downswing, look like this at the finish… and so on. Meanwhile, the Dustin Johnsons, Jim Furyks, and Bubba Watsons of the golfing world don’t possess golf swings that look anything like the “style” being suggested. When swing tips are given for “style” reasons, they’re arbitrary, a visual preference, and can’t be measured.
The second reason golfers are more confused today than they’ve ever been is the climate of today’s golf instruction world. We live in a new age, the digital age, and golfers are being bombarded by countless forms of media suggesting how to improve their games. These tips have a very wide range of theories and suggestions, most of which are conflicting.
Set up with your weight on the left foot. No, on the right foot. No, in the middle.
Have a short, compact swing. No, get a big shoulder turn for more distance. No, just swing around your body.
Finish high. No, finish low and left.
You get the picture. Without the ability to discern fact from fiction when it comes to all of this information, golfers go to the driving range in search of that secret pill that’s going to make it all work. The truth is that a secret pill that’s “style-based” just doesn’t exist. The best golf teachers know that the “style” of swing really doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters in playing good golf is creating good impact. That’s what Dustin Johnson, Jim Furyk and Bubba Watson all have in common, and that’s why they are all great golfers and great ball-strikers.
Good instructors understand what it is that these great players do to create that good impact, and they have the ability to offer clear remedies that might be built on only one or two simple thoughts. When a golfer is limited to thinking about only one or two key things, their mind is free and so is their swing. It’s not paralysis by analysis that ruins golfers, but rather paralysis by having too many needless and ineffective swing thoughts that ruins golfers.
Good instruction and good swing tips help golfers understand the impact their swing needs to create to be a good ball-striker. When a golfer’s impact isn’t good, a good instructor will help the student understand the specific element of their impact that wasn’t good and provide the appropriate remedy to fix it. Using today’s modern technology helps reveal precisely what was good or bad about a swing’s impact. After the remedy is given, technology will specifically be able to measure and show improvement in the various elements of impact. Game improvement can now be measured and verified by viewing the specific areas where impact is improved. When students see this measured improvement, hope is restored, confidence grows, scores drop and fewer golfers quit the game!
Be aware that it’s fine to read these articles and view these swing tips for their entertainment and educational value, but golfers should only apply the tips when they know they will help them improve a specific element of their impact. Then and only then will their game improve. One thing is for certain in golf, better impact equals better golf. That is where the “hope” of a good golf game is to be found.
The difference between “ugly” and “unorthodox” golf swings
I’d like you pretend for a moment that you were asked to name the five ugliest golf swings by players who had won a major championship. Who would you select, and what criteria would you use to make that judgment? You might say you’re not sure, but you would have no difficulty identifying an ugly swing if you were to see one, right? The question is, what factors would move you toward that decision?
I struggled with this exact question when it was posed to me and others who were members of Golf Magazine’s “Top 100” panel at the time. In making my decision, I was concerned that I did not confuse UNORTHODOX with UGLY. The fact is that some of the greatest golfers throughout history have been considered to have had unorthodox swings.
- The word “unorthodox” is defined as that which is contrary to what is usual, traditional or generally accepted.
- The word “ugly” is defined as that which is unpleasant or repulsive in appearance.
In comparing the two definitions, they are clearly quite different. The word “unorthodox” suggests something that is different from the norm, while the word “ugly” relates to the appearance of an object regardless of its status. The problem with labeling any golf swing as unorthodox is that the definition of that condition varies with time. What was once considered to be unorthodox may later be considered perfectly acceptable, and we’ve seen this happen over and over again in golf instruction.
Case No. 1
It was considered unorthodox when Harry Vardon moved his thumbs toward the top of the shaft and placed the little finger of his right hand over his left forefinger knuckle. The standard grip in his era featured both thumbs to the sides of the shaft. The club was held more in the palms of both hands and with all ten fingers, rather than more diagonally through the palm as in Vardon’s Grip. As Vardon began to win, however, his competitors copied his grip. What once was considered unorthodox became orthodox.
Case No. 2
Hogan and Nicklaus were paired together in the final round of the 1957 U.S. Open at Cherry Hills. The dichotomy between their backswings couldn’t have been more evident. This was due to the way in which they utilized their right elbows in the backswing. Nicklaus allowed his right elbow to work up and away, pointing more outward at the top. Hogan’s right elbow was closer to his body and pointed more downward.
At the time, Hogan’s backswing was considered orthodox while Nicklaus’ swing was considered unorthodox. As Hogan faded from the winner’s circle and Nicklaus began to emerge, what was once thought to be unorthodox later came to be considered orthodox.
There are some swings that most observers would agree are both unorthodox and ugly. For example, most observers would say that Jim Furyk’s swing is not pretty — they might even go so far as to categorize it as ugly. This is despite the face that Furyk has had an outstanding career and has a U.S. Open victory to his credit. What is it that observers find so offense in his swing? The answer is the differential in planes between the backswing and the downswing, or what might be referred to as a “loop” in his swing.
In Furyk’s case, the club is taken well outside what might be considered the traditional backswing plane. Then it is looped well to the inside and back into position on the downswing. This is is a perfectly acceptable way to play golf, which is evidenced by the size of his bank account and the number of trophies on his mantle. As you might surmise, because of his golf swing, Furyk has not been asked to write any full-swing instruction books.
The problem is that, in the eyes of the observer, the combination of the two distinctly different planes gives a disjoined appearance to the swing. Does it follow then that the variance in the backswing and downswing is the primary factor in determining if a swing qualifies as being ugly? The problem with reaching that conclusion is that it doesn’t hold up to comparison with other players who employ a similar pattern… beginning with Freddy Couples. He begins his swing by lifting his arms well outside the traditional plane line. With a delayed turn of his torso, he then brings the club back into a more traditional plane at the top.
In the case of both Couples and Furyk, their backswings operate well outside the traditional plane line with both players “looping” the club back into position prior to impact. And yet Couples’ swing is universally admired, while Furyk’s swing is in some quarters ridiculed. This begs the question of why Couples’ “looping” swing motion is considered more acceptable than Furyk’s. The answer to that question is two-fold.
- Furyk’s loop is created ostensibly by a change in plane with the arms and the hands, giving the swing a frenetic appearance.
- Couples’ loop is created with a graceful turn of his body with the arms following in perfect harmony.
And so, when taking the swings of Couples and other “loopers” into consideration, it would seem that the dramatic change in plane between the backswing and the downswing in and of itself does not warrant the classification of ugly.
Author Footnote: A point worth considering as part of this discussion is that there have been other accomplished players throughout the history of the game whose backswings have operated on the same principles as Couples. This would include perennial Champion’s Tour winners Kenny Perry, and earlier Jay Haas, whose swings were generally admired despite their unorthodox approach to the backswing.
What does this all mean? First, while a loop in the golf swing may be unorthodox, is not necessary considered ugly provided that the club is routed into plane with the turn of the body rather than just the arms and the hands. Second, as stated earlier, the definition of unorthodox can and does change depending on the era. And third, an unorthodox swing is not necessarily ugly. The two classifications are very different.
As you evaluate golf swings, remember this adage; an unorthodox swing is not necessarily ugly, but an ugly swing is always unorthodox.
TG2: Should Tiger Woods play in The Masters without a driver?
Tiger Woods’ No. 1 concern heading into the Masters is the driver, according to Notah Begay. Equipment expert Brian Knudson and Editor Andrew Tursky argue whether Tiger should even use a driver during the Masters. Also, they discuss Rory’s new prototype putter and how it was made, and they talk about a new shaft company called “LA Golf Shafts.”
Listen to the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes!
For more info on the topics, check out the links below.
- Rory’s putter: www.golfwrx.com/503976/rory-mcilr…rmade-soto-proto/
- Tiger’s driver: www.golfwrx.com/503940/tiger-wood…irms-notah-begay/
- LA Golf Shafts: www.golfwrx.com/503818/la-golf-pa…s-la-golf-shafts/
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