I'm hoping that, throughout this book, I'm able to show just how this can severely limit our possibilities to learn and find further development, while ultimately limiting our chances of ever finding our own full potential.
So, a basic has to be something that is common to all good players, while a preference is something that is more focused around each individual in order to make it easier for them to be able to perform closer to their own maximum potential.
When we take a look at all the great players, it's not difficult to see how they all appear to be doing things quite differently. While some of these differences are only subtle or even invisible, others are more obvious, but each one being vital to each individual player.
This is especially worth noting, because each great player has come to swing, stand and grip the way he does, after thousands of hours of practice and trial and error, resulting in a way of playing that is personal and unique to them only, while being completely compatible with their own unique golfing DNA.
If you were to then try and take away the personal identity of any particular player's swing and stance, then you are running the risk of severely limiting their potential, or even destroying their game entirely, which is not an uncommon occurrence among both Tour players and amateurs.
Looking at these Preferences (which are so often taught as a Basic), can potentially help us in the following three different ways. Firstly, if a friend or an instructor tells us something that we either should, must or are supposed to do; by using these words, he has actually insinuated that it is a Basic, but it is almost certainly nothing more than a Preference. In this position, we could potentially question the reason why they have offered this advice?
"When we take a look at all the great players, it's not difficult to see how they all appear to be doing things quite differently. While some of these differences are only subtle or even invisible, others are more obvious, but each one being vital to each individual player."
This may not seem particularly significant, however, as we've already said, many a player has been ruined by persevering with advice that is not compatible with his own golfing DNA.
So, if it doesn't suit us or feel right, then quickly forget it and move on! This doesn't mean that the advice is always completely wrong, but it isn't right for that moment, or compatible with our present set of circumstances.
Put it to one side for now, and we can always come back to it, should the need arise.
Secondly, by highlighting some of these Preferences, this may inspire others to go on and do their own bit of intelligent trial and error and find their own best set of preferences. Just like the Tour players have done, we all want to find our own best set of circumstances (preferences) that make the job of striking a ball well as easy as possible, and gives us the best chance to maximize our own potential.
And lastly, by recognizing and highlighting these Preferences, it will help us to narrow things down, and be able to find our only true set of Basics.
If we can find the REAL Basics, we at least know what it is we are all trying to achieve. And this would really be a great start!!!
Okay, here are some areas where all great players will have Preferences, which are then often bring taught as Basics, which we'll soon see, couldn't possibly be true.
First the Swing.
- Great players don't all swing 'On Plane.' Some swing upright and some flat.
- At the top of the backswing, not all players swing the club perfectly on line and parallel to the target line. Some are laid off, while some swing across the line.
- In the backswing position, not all great players have a square clubface, and some are shut, while some are a little open.
- Not all great players swing to the 'traditionally considered' ideal length backswing. Some significantly over-swing, and some swing much shorter. At the same time, there appears to be no suggestion that any one of these different positions will either gain or lose control or even extra power.
- Not all great players swing perfectly on line (on plane) as they approach impact. Some swing a little across the ball, some more in to out, and some can do both, depending on which shot they want to hit.
- On that note, not all good players hit the ball perfectly straight, some with fade, some with draw, and some pick and choose.
- Not all players have a textbook interlock or overlap grip. Other equally successful grips are, strong, weak, baseball, double overlap, reverse overlap, full overlap, Moe Norman's own special grip, Greg Norman's own special grip, cack-handed, and no doubt some more which I don't even know about.
- Not all players align perfectly square. Some stand open and some closed.
- Not all players hit each ball from the exact specified ball position for each club. They have their own personal position and are able to hit great shots even when the ball position has to change for individual types of shots.
- Then there are all kinds of different combinations of where their feet are pointing. Some point straight ahead, and some are splayed open, at all kinds of different varying angles.
- Not all players stand with their weight evenly distributed between both feet. Some are more on the right foot, and some more towards the left, of different varying degrees.
- All player's posture varies, with different degrees of knee flex, and angles of the back and head position.
- Not all players have the clubface perfectly square. Some a little open and some a little closed.
I will also add to this list.
- Not all players have their head perfectly still, and this is actually an illusion that many of us are fooled by. A player's head appears to be stable and relatively still, as a result of having swung with fluid and coordinated movement, while the head will appear to be unstable and moving all over the place, when a player has swung with uncoordinated, jerky, and non-fluid movement.
Above all, they should never be 'sold in' as anything else either, despite what many textbooks and coaches still often infer, as they could potentially become very limiting to our progress, as they are not necessarily designed around us - just as they're not for all the great players, and we're no different!
So, what do we have left? What are our true and only real set of Basics, and something that ALL good players do?
Firstly, they all have the ability to swing with fluid, coordinated and balanced movement, while being able to deliver the clubhead at speed and with perfect precision, that will subsequently produce the shot that was intended: The Flight of Intention.
"Not all players have their head perfectly still, and this is actually an illusion that many of us are fooled by. A player's head appears to be stable and relatively still, as a result of having swung with fluid and coordinated movement, while the head will appear to be unstable and moving all over the place, when a player has swung with uncoordinated, jerky, and non-fluid movement."
Yes, all great players have built up this subconscious ability through time and practice. You would find that they could hit a pretty good shot with just about any technique, but the above is what we have to learn in order to strike a ball well and with control.
Then we have our own preferences, which are simply to help us to make things a lot easier. So, that's it, these are our Basics, which are our starting point, that we need to learn and practice. The rest after this are nothing more than preferences.
In short, we are trying to move with fluid coordination and balance, while delivering our clubhead with a free flowing and non-manipulated swish at impact. We are also trying to trust our Subconscious mind to deliver the clubhead with precision and in the right direction that will produce the intended shot, by being fully committed to the type of shot we have chosen and pre-decided.
Just to be clear: a pre-decided shot for a beginner would probably be just 'forwards,' but as we progress and our subconscious begins to get the feeling for striking a golf ball, this can become a little more imaginative. Okay, I know this is probably not want everyone wants to hear. We live in a world where we want to analyze everything and get those concrete answers that we're all desperately searching for.
However, please bear with me, because once we accept and understand that this is our only true set of Basics, this can help us more than it first appears, and is right at the very core of the Rocking the Fairway (RTF) way of thinking.
Yes, we can immediately see how potentially harmful the advice of 'straight left arm' could potentially be. This doesn't mean that we all have to suddenly start trying to bend our left arms, but we could suggest that our arms felt relatively 'soft' and relaxed.
Then, we could look at the grip, which is so often taught as a Basic, and clearly shouldn't be. Once again, in order to achieve our free-flowing swish, it would probably be just about impossible if our hands were split and far apart.
So, we can now assume our hands have to be placed on the club closely together.
Once we've done this, we now have the freedom to try any grip we like, instead of being locked into the small and very limiting world which we can now see many of us have been in. We will all probably discover how the grip is such a vital part of the process of finding our own true potential, but it is also very personal to each player.
I know that most of the great players who now have unconventional grips, will have tried at some time or other, to conform to what they first considered was 'correct,' but found it impossible and that it was severely limiting their progress. I hope you'll agree with me here, and think that everyone should also deserve the same opportunity as the great players, instead of blindly following a set of guidelines that clearly need to relax and spread out a lot wider.
Then finally, there is the thinking that is right at the very core of RTF thinking, and which has had such positive effects for those who have chosen to adopt it.
All we're trying to do now is to swing with as much fluid, coordinated and balanced movement as we can muster, while swishing the club in a way that will propel the ball forwards in the direction we had intended.
It doesn't mean that we're all going to be tournament stars from day one, but then why would we expect to be? If we are learning any other sport, or even the piano, we wouldn't expect to be a concert pianist immediately, would we?
And when we fail, it doesn't mean that we are suddenly 'doing something wrong' either.
Any kind of new and complex movement that we're trying to learn and perform will take time as this program has to be learned deep within our Subconscious mind. Every time we practice something, our Subconscious is working out and adjusting all of the time, as it tries to perfect the movement that we're trying to achieve, and to the level of precision that we're striving for.
As we've said, we are NEVER actually doing something wrong, because we're already capable of performing our new set of Basics to a level that will correspond directly with our own present level of development. We are simply finding it too difficult to repeat a movement that requires almost impossible degrees of precision with little margin for error, as often as we'd like.
Pretty understandable I'd say. This means that any help or guidance that we might receive, will have to be designed to make things easier for us, and not because someone wants to teach a Preference that they believe is the 'correct' way to do things.
This is the basis of the RTF way of thinking, and the beginning of our journey to find a better and more effective way to how we can all learn and improve, while also enjoying the game more, and gaining a deeper understanding of our subject.
- Richard Fish (Author of Rocking the Fairways)
To contact Richard Fish for information on his More Mindful Coaching Programs in the U.K. visit his Facebook Page Rocking the Fairways at https://www.facebook.com/groups/rockingthefairways