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How a Wise Old Golf Coach Taught a Frustrated Golfer the Value of Sticking with his Original Golf Swing Rather than Struggling to Change it
“Hi John how are you hitting the ball today?”
“Arrrrrrr, like shit!! That’s how coach. I can’t hit the ball to save my life. It doesn’t matter what I do, or how many lessons I take, I hit way too many bad shots, and it’s driving me crazy.
So, don’t start on me with your positive philosophical bullshit because I’m not in the mood for it.
I know I’m an idiot and I don’t need you to tell me otherwise.”
“Yes you are an idiot John. I agree with you.”
“I just said, you are an idiot, I’m agreeing with you. If you are someone who acts in a self-defeating or knowingly counterproductive way, then you are right, you are an idiot, by definition."
“Hey! Wait a second, I’m not asking you to agree with me here. Can’t you see I’m struggling, and all you can do is agree with me that I’m an idiot. What kind of golf teacher are you!”
“I’m the right kind for you John.
I know you are upset with your golf, it doesn’t take an Einstein to work that out John, but the way you are going about improvement needs a rethink.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, what I mean is that you will never, and I mean never improve your golf going about it the way you are. What you will get is more of the same, and eventually you will walk away from the game, like many others who, like you, tried to improve their golf by going about it in a similar way.”
“How am I going about it in a similar way?”
“John, let me ask you this question; do you think you are going about it the right way?”
“No, I guess not…well, I mean, I’m trying to do what I was taught in my last lesson coach, but I just can’t do it.”
“You can’t do it? Or, you can’t do it yet?”
“Well I guess I can’t do it yet.”
“And what is it you are trying to do John?”
“I’m trying to fix my backswing, because my teacher says it is too upright, and he wants me to flatten it so I can hit the ball more from the inside.”
“Ok, I think I understand. You are saying that your backswing is broken in some way, and that it needs to be fixed, is that correct?"
"Yes, that's correct."
"So, how flat does he want it to be compared to what it was?”
“About this much.”
“So, John, how will you know when it has flattened that amount?”
“Um, I guess he will tell me?”
“You guess? Ok, fair enough John you don’t know. So, you will practice flattening your backswing at the driving range and at some point of time in the future it will be the right angle of flatness.
Does that sound about right to you?”
“Well, yes it does coach, when you put it like that it also sounds to me like it’s a little open-ended”
“A little open ended…what do you mean John?”
“Well coach, in thinking about it, I’m trying to flatten my backswing with no real idea as to when it will be right for me without relying on someone else to tell me.
I’m standing here on this range mat most days for at least an hour practicing my new backswing and hoping it will eventually go into place, but I’m not sure when that will happen.
Shish…no wonder I was getting frustrated and angry.”
“John, had you ever hit really good shots with your original backswing? I mean, had you played rounds of golf where you hit a bunch of good shots that you were more than satisfied with?”
“Yes, I’ve hit plenty of good shots, and also played some great rounds of golf.”
“Might I ask why you decided to take some lessons to change the way you were doing it?”
“I just wanted to get better, that’s all coach.”
“That’s fair enough. So, you were not happy with your performances on the golf course with your original style John?”
“Well, I just kinda went through a period of playing some really awful golf, so I decided that I needed a change.”
“And John, you decided that changing the angle of your backswing would help you to play better?”
"Well, actually, the golf teacher I went to said that by coming more from the inside on the downswing I would hit the ball better, and more consistently, and to do that I needed to change my backswing angle for this to happen.”
"Ok, and how long did he suggest you practice flattening your backswing angle before it would be in the correct position?”
“He didn’t say specifically, just that if I kept practicing on a regular basis that it would change. He said that he would monitor it and let me know.”
“Have you ever had a headache John?”
“What…, yes…, of course I have coach, what’s you point?”
“No point John, just asking whether you have ever had a headache. You know some people get terrible headaches John, brings them to tears you know. They have to get out of the daylight, go into a dark room, take some strong medication and let it pass.”
“Really, it’s that bad with some people?”
“Sure, headaches can be terrible afflictions you know John, but they come, and they go—that’s how they work. They don’t last, which is a good thing John, like a lot of things, they don’t last long.”
“I’m confused coach, what are you saying?” I’m saying that headaches don’t last long for most people, they come, and then they go.”
“So, your backswing angle will get better by practicing regularly you say?”
“Yeah, like I said, that’s what he said coach…Hey coach I’m wondering whether I should just stick with what I know, so that I don’t have to go through any more of this struggle?”
“John the struggle is necessary for something, or someone to change; you simply can’t change something like a golf swing without feeling the struggle that comes with uncertainty.”
“What do you mean by uncertainty coach?”
"Well there are things right now that you are certain about, and there are things that you are not certain about, and you feel very different from one to the other.
John, you are practicing your swing on the driving range with the hope that sometime sooner than later your backswing angle will change from its original angle to something else, and finish up in the perfect position for your downswing to come into the ball more from the inside than you currently do,
and that everything about your golf will be better than it was. John with great respect, you got it way wrong when you said you were an idiot. You are insane!
The question confronting you John is a much simpler one. It is whether you need to change the angle of your backswing, or just change your attitude to deal with the inevitable headaches which are a certainty in golf, that come and go, and sometimes stay for a while…
Take an attitude pill John, deal with the headaches, and stick with what you know that you are certain about.
You will enjoy your golf more, and you can improve your game without going to the trouble of letting someone take a scalpel to your backswing."
“I think it will be easier to deal with the ache that I know coach, than with the uncertainty of changing my backswing for another one with no assurance that I will be better than I am.”
“That sounds like the right type of medication to me. Enjoy the rest of your day John, it was good talking with you.”
“Thanks for the advice coach, I appreciate your time.”
“You’re welcome John.”
Lawrie Montague and David Milne - Pro Tour Golf College