In this week’s blog, Tadhg Harrington warns of the pitfalls of ‘YouTube’ and self-taught golf and gives his tips for avoiding them.
Let me tell you a story…
Every Saturday, Bob the accountant, plays in his regular four-ball, at the local municipal. One particular Saturday, he notices that one of his playing partners, Jim, a qualified baker, is putting the lights out, I mean, he is holing putts from downtown! As Bob hands over the money, (yet again!), Jim can’t wait to tell him about the latest putting tip he found on YouTube from one of the world’s leading teachers. Bob, of course, has to try this latest tip and this is where the magic happens. For the next two weeks, Bob also puts the lights out and all is good in the golfing world. The Medal is scheduled for the weekend after and Bob and Jim can’t wait to rip that course apart. But somehow, and for no apparent reason, they mysteriously shoot millions and the harder they try, the worse it gets. Cue the 15th green, and they are back with their normal putting strokes again.
Now, that’s voodoo golf.
An even more lethal strain of this disease exists, when even well-educated golfers, think that an inanimate object, called a driver, wedge or putter will improve their game just by paying an exorbitant price for it. And you thought the Incas worshipping the Sun God, Inti, was, well, questionable?
This is the perpetual cycle that most golfers find themselves in every weekend – voodoo golf.
OK, so let me as ask you a couple of questions?
(1) Did you come from another sport, got the golfing bug, took a few lessons, did a bit of practice and improved rapidly till you found your level but are now stuck? You just can’t seem to improve any further?
(2) Your original love affair with the game has eroded over time and you say things to yourself coming down the 17th fairway that could only be repeated privately? But, you can’t let go. Frankly, it’s perplexing how you were so good at other things but can’t master stupid golf
(3) You are actually quite good at striking the ball, but hopeless at say, putting?
Problem #1 The image above tells you everything you need to know about learning “YouTube” golf. I wouldn’t teach this impact position to any one of my clients, I doubt very much that they would be able to recreate it anyway! Yet, this is one of the best golfers in the world from the LPGA Tour. The information highway for golf is the traffic jam from hell, way too much information and way too many opinions for any mere mortal to comprehend. The real party trick is not the understanding of the swing, it’s the knowing, through experiential learning, what dark alleys not to venture down. Imagine going in to see your doctor or accountant and giving them advice on their profession. You would be laughed out of the building! Yet, this is what happens every single weekend on the golf course, well-meaning friends, including our friend, Jim the baker, dispense golf tips and tricks like candy bars at a children’s party.
Problem #2 To further muddy the waters, once you learn how to swing the club mechanically, your job is only just starting, how do you get that swing to the golf course, how do you move from the Macro, the nuts and bolts of the swing, the big compound movements that power the swing to the Micro, the sensory processing of the shot in hand on the course? It’s a whole new ball game!
Problem #3 Finally and I know this through experience, most golfers are unaware that short game has a different release pattern to the long game. The simple way to explain this is that the club face in short game shots behaves differently to say your driver shots. It really is like comparing apples with oranges. And you really think you can learn to play good golf with a couple of 30-minute lessons?
Take the time to learn the fundamentals of golf. Like performing scales when learning to play the piano, your perception of what it takes to get better at golf is flawed. Most golfers I have seen don’t actually understand what causes a good shot, don’t have appropriate feedback from a qualified coach and finally, lack a proper and realistic plan to improve.
Each week, from now on, I will endeavor to give you kind readers something factual to help you with your game!
One of the biggest fundamental flaws I see when teaching each day is the inability to line up properly to the target. I have had some very low handicappers come in and line their actual bodies with the intended target. This is incorrect as you are now effectively closed to your target line. Think of railway tracks when lining up, put two rods on the ground when practicing, one along with your toe line and the other parallel to it a couple of inches inside the ball. 1, Your club-face should aim at the target and 2, your shoulders, hips, and feet should aim inside this line, along with the left-hand railway track!
On course, before you take your stance, make sure to aim the face of the club using your right hand only. This opens up the shoulders and allows you to see clearly where you are aiming. Then without moving the face, take your grip and only then walk in to take your stance. Check your railway tracks image and you should be good to go. I cannot stress how important this routine is as any discussions about why the ball is curving one way or the other are redundant if you get this setup wrong!
A couple of quotes to finish after last weeks resounding Ryder Cup win!
“The issue’s obviously with Jordan not wanting to play. I don’t have any issue with Jordan. When it comes right down to it, I don’t care if I like the person I’m paired with or if the person likes me as long as it works and it sets up the team for success.”
Jim and Bob at the local municipal might have found a new fourball partner!
“As far as camaraderie, it was fine, it was perfect. The problem is you guys (the media) try to find a reason why we lost and the simple reason is we just didn’t play good enough.”
Brooks telling it like it was and followed it up with a very creditable tied 7 that the Dunhill Links Championship.
But the last word this week goes to, Phil Mickelson, looking down and out after the Ryder Cup, conjured up some more real-world magic after his first-round 65 at last weeks Safeway Open, and finished in a tie for 17that eight under par!
“I was surprised at some of the shots I hit. I honestly have been hitting it just terrible, and today was just an anomaly. Don’t let the good round fool you; I’m not at my best. But today, a few things clicked and it was fun.”
And that, my friends, is the antithesis of Voodoo golf!
Tadhg Harrington is a professional golf coach who graduated from the Titleist Performance Institute. He succeeds in employing empathy, passion and exceptional customer service. The Harrington Golf Academy provides long-term coaching programs designed to bring sensory processing to motor learning skills. We teach above the noise, the quick tips and the latest fads and are truly unique in the Irish golf industry.
Tadhg’s brother is three-time Major winner and Ryder Cup vice-captain, Padraig Harrington.