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The three personalities you need on the golf course

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If you’re here reading this article, you’re not happy with your golf game. There is one or many flaws in your ability to control the golf ball.

Well, I’m here, not with a technique tip or a clue to help you hit a shot that you need to add to your repertoire of go to strikes. Rather, I’m here to help you maximize your entire game by exploring this simple truth: To be the best golfer that you can be, you need to have three personalities.

I know that may be daunting to many of you — especially those of us who already have too many voices in our head. But stay with me. These three personalities, when trained correctly and able to execute their roles will give you the ability to take and stay in control of your golf game like never before.

So who are these three personalities? They are The Scientist, The Set-Up Guy and The Athlete. Let’s take a closer look at each personality and begin to understand what their role is in helping you maximize your game.

The Scientist

The Scientist: Tiger Woods has changed his swing three times since he joined the PGA Tour, under instructors Butch Harmon, Hank Haney and current swing guru Sean Foley.

The Scientist is the gatherer and analyzer of data. He is the personality who wants to understand the mechanics of the golf swing, how a golf ball curves, how different lies on the course affect the golf ball, how wind, rain and other elements will affect the golf ball, etc. He is NOT the guy you want trying to hit your biggest drive of the day. His life has been spent studying, analyzing and providing solutions to problems. He wants to help The Athlete improve the frequency of his ability to excel by improving his technique.

The Athlete

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Dustin Johnson is known as one of the most athletic golfers on the PGA Tour. His 6-foot 4-inch athletic frame allows him to generate an average clubhead speed of 122 mph (with a driver), fifth on the PGA Tour in 2013.

The Athlete is the personality who knows instinctively how to perform and excel in the physical arena. He is the personality, no matter what form of exercise or game he is thrown into, who reacts and performs without thought and excels. He is the guy you want hitting your largest drive of the day. He is not the guy you want involved in breaking down the deficiencies of your swing mechanics. The Athlete understands that the deficiencies in his technique make him fallible. He needs the advice and expertise of The Scientist to ensure he succeeds more frequently.

The Set-Up Guy

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PGA Tour Hall of Famer Vijay Singh is known for his long practice sessions after rounds, which often include drills to help him ingrain his desired swing mechanics. Photo Courtesy of Stephanie Wei (weiunderpar.com)

The Set-Up Guy is the translator between the Scientist and the Athlete. Take a quick trip down memory lane to your grade school or high school years. The geeks and the athletes rarely interacted with each other. They had different social skills and interests. Due to these differences, their “language” was different. They did not communicate well as two different groups on a whole, but there were always a few students in the school who could interact with both groups with ease. This student is the model for The Set-Up Personality — the guy who helps The Scientist prepare The Athlete’s technique to be as efficient as possible, while still ensuring The Athlete performs instinctively and excels in his arena.

So how do these personalities interact with each other to ensure the best possible performance? I am going to give you one example that needs to be practiced and perfected on the driving range first, and then transferred to the golf course after you are comfortable with the new skill set.

It comes down to needing three swings, or one swing per personality. The first swing is the Scientist’s swing. It is a practice swing, where the Scientist is trying to remind and imprint the perfect skill set to make The Athlete’s technique more efficient. This swing should have very specific characteristics defined to help The Set-Up Guy “translate” that information into his personality’s swing.

The second swing is the Set-Up Guy’s swing. It is another practice swing, but rather being performed under strict, specific guidelines, it is being executed with the feeling of the more proper and efficient technique. The Set-Up Guy can take as many swings as he wants to “dumb it down,” or translate it to an understandable feeling for The Athlete to perform without thought. A very efficient way to make it more understandable is by attaching The Athlete’s preferred rhythm to the correct mechanical feeling.

The final swing is The Athlete’s Swing. His job remains the same: To execute his swing, instinctively and without thought and excel. But, he’s had the benefit of being prepared by The Scientist, who is doing his best to make the athlete’s technique more technically sound. He has also benefited from The Set-Up Guy’s translation services, who has managed to make all the technical aspects of his improved technique understandable by giving The Athlete the proper “feeling” of a good technique with rhythm.

So there you have it. I encourage you to spend some time analyzing which personality needs the most development in your golf game. If you’re only The Athlete, you need The Scientist to help you understand why the same, inefficient, feeling swing can produce such different results. If you’re only The Scientist, you need The Athlete to help you execute the athletic event without thought. Make sure to take advantage of The Set-Up Guy. He’s the only one who can make The Scientist and The Athlete understand each other and perform their tasks to the best of their abilities.

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Certified Teaching Professional at the Pelican Hill Golf Club, Newport Coast, CA. Ranked as one of the best teachers in California & Hawaii by Golf Digest Titleist Performance Institute Certified www.youtube.com/uranser

4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Caleb

    Nov 26, 2013 at 2:19 pm

    These are three personalities you have to have on the golf course but are hard to have during one round of golf. It is easy to forget these personalities when you get frustrated.

  2. Andy

    Sep 15, 2013 at 9:01 pm

    That is one of the cleverest, resonating golf articles I’ve read in a while now.

  3. Anne Suz

    Sep 12, 2013 at 4:44 pm

    You write with such clarity. Never before have I read an article of this caliber written by a golf instructor. I’m a beginner golfer and will continue to seek advice from your articles.

  4. Adrian

    Sep 11, 2013 at 11:28 pm

    Excellent article Tim. I have been trying to say something like that myself for along time and you put it to words. Thanks!

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Instruction

Clement: Why your practice swing never sucks

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You hear that one all the time; I wish I could put my practice swing on the ball! We explain the huge importance of what to focus on to allow the ball to be perfectly in the way of your practice swing. Enjoy!

 

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Clement: This is when you should release the driver

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The golf teaching industry is slowly coming around to understand how the human machine is a reaction and adaptation machine that responds to weight and momentum and gravity; so this video will help you understand why we say that the club does the work; i.e. the weight of the club releases your anatomy into the direction of the ball flight.

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Kelley: Focus on what you can control

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(Part One) Changing The Swing

The address position is the easiest part to change in the golf swing. If an adjustment can be made that will influence the rest of the swing, it should be made here. The set-up is a static position, so you have full control over it. If concepts are understood with feedback given (a mirror or video) it can easily be corrected and monitored. Once the club is in motion, a change becomes much more difficult.

Most faults in the swing originate in the set-up. All to often players go directly to the part they want to change in the middle of their swing, not understating their is an origin to what they do. When the origin isn’t fixed, trying to directly change the part in the middle is difficult and will often leave the player frustrated. Even worse, the part they are looking to fix may actually be a “match-up” move by the brain and body. These match-up moves actually counter -balance a previous move to try and make the swing work.

An example of not fixing the origin and understanding the importance of the set-up is when players are trying to shallow the club on the downswing (a common theme on social media). They see the steep shaft from down-the-line and directly try and fix this with different shallowing motions. More times then not, the origin to this is actually in the set-up and/or direction the body turns back in the backswing. If the body is out of position to start and turns back “tilty”, a more difficult match-up is required to shallow the shaft.

Another simple simple set-up position that is often over-looked is the angle of the feet. For efficiency, the lead foot should be slightly flared and the trail foot flared out as well (the trail more flared then the lead). When the trail foot is straight or even worse pointed inwards, a player will often shift their lower in the backswing rather then coil around in the groin and glutes. Trying to get a better lower half coil is almost impossible with poor foot work.

The golf swing is hard to change, so work on the things that are simple and what you have control over. You may not be able to swing it like a world class player, but with proper training you can at least the address the ball like one. When making a swing change, look to fix the origin first to facilitate the change.

*Part two of this article will be focusing on what you can control on the golf course, a key to better performance

http://www.kelleygolf.com

Twitter: KKelley_golf

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