Author of the golf book 'Rocking the Fairways,' Richard Fish, in an except from his book discusses what he believes to be The Real Basics of Golf.
We're often told how we first have to learn The Basics, or "to go back to Basics," BUT WHAT ARE THE REAL BASICS OF GOLF? Before we begin, I'd like to highlight the difference between a Preference and a Basic, as my fear is that Preferences are often being taught under the guise of being labelled as a Basic.
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."
Also, once we're able to recognize any new advice as being nothing more than a preference, which subsequently may not have led to any positive results, we can now learn to reject it quickly, as it clearly wasn't a preference that was right for us.
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.
We would always recommend that this trial and error can be in all areas of the game, but preferably not the swing itself (at least not in any positional or mechanical way), as we'll see that the swing is actually only a Subconscious reaction to the type of shot we're playing, and all of the other sets of circumstances (preferences) that it has been presented with (if this is difficult to understand, I'm hoping this will become clearer later).
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.
The Stance and the Grip.
I will also add to this list.
This is just a small and simple selection of many of the things that we're all told that we should or are supposed to do, and hopefully you can clearly see how all these things are nothing more than preferences, and should be treated as such.
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."
In order to produce this speed at impact they are trying to produce a free flowing and non-manipulated swish of the clubhead, at exactly the right time, while trusting the ability of their Subconscious to deliver the clubhead with the exact precision that's required.
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.
First, by understanding our only set of Basics, we can establish our first concrete answer that may be of use, at least to some. We now know that we are trying to swish or swoosh the club, in a timely manner, through impact. This would be impossible to achieve if our arms were stiff, rigid, straight and 'controlling.'
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.
As we can see with our new set of Basics, swinging a golf club is quite a simple thing to do, now that we have lost so many of all the complicated set of instructions that previously burdened us.
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