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The Wedge Guy: The more you know…

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Last week, I shared some thoughts about playing with “realistic expectations.” I firmly believe that is the first step of strengthening your mental game to get the most out of the skills and talents you have.

There certainly have been plenty of books written about the mental side of golf, and I don’t profess to have the education and experience of Dr. Bob Rotella, Dr. David Cook, or any of the other experts in this field. But I do have a very healthy respect for the role the mind plays in our ability to score and to enjoy the game. It’s really no different from any other aspect of our lives—family life, business, etc. It all yields to us only that which we allow it to yield.

So, I’m not going to delve into the psychology of golf the way these other experts have. I’m going to try to expand upon what we started last week by taking a little different tack. And that is that your golf swing, your technique and your entire approach to the game is governed and restricted by your understanding of what it is you are really trying to do.

Look around at your golf buddies and you will see few swings that even remotely resemble the mechanical excellence of the players on tour or the best ball-strikers at your club. Why is that? Do you and your friends just like the swings you have, regardless of their ability to produce the desired results? Are you OK being stuck at your current playing level, your current handicap? Is it OK for you if you never get any better?

My guess is that the answer to all those questions is a resounding “No!” I believe all golfers want to get better, to hit better golf shots more often, and to shoot lower scores. I believe that’s what keeps you coming back here and to all the other golf sites you visit. But if it’s not happening, why not take a completely different approach?

That could start by rebuilding your own perception of what a good golf swing looks like, feels like and does. Within a very narrow range, there is really only one way to swing a golf club so that it produces quality golf shots with repetition and reliability. Sure, there are little quirks from golfer to golfer, but the range of disparity of the swings on tour is very small, compared to that in your regular Saturday group.

Every swing will have its little idiosyncrasies, but for the most part, it needs to follow a very basic set of proven fundamentals that applied to Hogan, Palmer, Nicklaus, Watson, Miller, Woods—and every other golfer who’s sniffed at excellence. The golf club has to be held properly. The body has to be put in the right athletic position to move properly. The club has to reach the correct position at the top of the backswing, and follow a certain path down to and through the ball. The club has to be released a certain way through impact to yield the desired results. These are laws of golf physics that have been proven for decades.

And unless you really understand those mechanical foundations, you will just not get better. You cannot expect your body to execute what you do not really comprehend. The good news is that these things do not require Woodsian strength and physical ability. Anyone without serious infirmity can learn how to hold the club, how to stand, where to put the club going back and how to move it through impact. How well you perfect this depends on your commitment to fitness, flexibility and practice, but I think any of you can significantly improve the fundamentals of your golf swing in a relatively short period of time if you are committed to doing so.

If you want 2020 to be your best year ever, the “mind game” I suggest you play is one of learning, studying, and committing to achieving a solid understanding of just what a good golf swing does, how it works, and what it looks like. And then build that new knowledge into your own swing.

There are so many great videos and books out there to study, but in my opinion, one of the best is Ben Hogan’s “Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf.” This book breaks the golf swing into a “paint by numbers” approach. From the grip through the follow-through, Hogan shows you what a good swing looks like, explains what it feels like, and shows you how to build one for yourself.

If you will get a copy, read it, study it and go through the steps to pose and posture into the positions Hogan describes, you will gain an understanding of the golf swing that your mind and body can relate to as you work to get better.

To complement what you are reading about, I also suggest you watch lots of LPGA golf and Champions Tour golf. The ladies and seniors are much closer to most of us recreational golfers in strength profile than the PGA Tour guys, and they don’t go at the ball nearly as aggressively.

So, learn what the golf swing is really all about. And work those fundamentals into your own game for your best golf ever. It’s never too late to teach an old dog new tricks.

 

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Terry Koehler is a fourth generation Texan, a native of a small South Texas town and a graduate of Texas A&M University. He has had a most interesting 40-year career in the golf industry. He has created five start-up companies, ranging from advertising agencies to golf equipment companies. You might remember Reid Lockhart, EIDOLON, SCOR, or his leadership of the reintroduction of Ben Hogan to the golf equipment industry in 2014. For almost 25 years, his wedge designs have stimulated other companies to slightly raise the CG and improve wedge performance. He has just announced the formation of Edison Golf Company and the new Edison Forged wedges, which have been robotically proven to significantly raise the bar for wedge performance. Terry serves as Chairman and Director of Innovation for Edison Golf, which can be seen at www.EdisonWedges.com. Terry has been a prolific equipment designer of over 100 putters and several irons, but many know Koehler as simply “The Wedge Guy”, as he authored over 700 articles on his blog by that name from 2003-2010.

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Lane Holt

    Mar 3, 2020 at 9:57 am

    Terry,

    You can have alt above in your article – strength, flexibility, desire , passion , commitment, blah , blah , blah , but that will not give you a great swing unless we understand this- when we attach a golf club ( lever ) to our hands we become a part of a very intricate lever system which requires some knowledge concerning HUMAN GENETICS! What is the Human capable of doing ? What parts of the Human structure control Human movement ? Genetics rule in the golf swing. This has been solved and a blueprint has been laid out for everyone to learn , but it goes ignored.
    Best,
    Lane

  2. Greg V

    Mar 3, 2020 at 9:53 am

    Nice article, Terry, but Hogan’s grip is too weak for 98% of us.

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