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Teaching Golf and Golf Theory


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Teaching golf has showed me that the truth about the conflicting theories of experts is quite simple: The masters play as it suits them to play and then evolve theories to explain why the particular movements which they discover themselves employing are right.

Unfortunately a shot that may be effective enough in the hands of a master may have disastrous results if "copied" by some less expert player.

Of course the muscular-mechanical movements in golf are extremely important but they are not everything.

After teaching myself first and then for thirty-five years teaching others, I have arrived at concrete conclusions as to what the important factors are and I would summarize them roughly as follows:

  1. Every good golf shot is the outcome of a satisfactory psychological-physical relationship.
  2. It is this relationship which gives control and consistency.
  3. These good relationships (and consequent controls) are built up most easily and firmly when the muscular-mechanical requirements of the game have been simplified. And so....
  4. It is desirable to learn to play as many of the shots as possible with the same movements.

Let me illustrate this last point which is fundamental in my theory of teaching, by describing the case of a pupil of mine, a lady no longer young who came to me more or less in despair. She had tried hard to play golf but had been defeated because she had never succeeded in driving even one hundred yards!

I taught her golf with one club only, her driver, and only off the tee. All I taught her was how to drive. When she came to me later and said, "How do I play pitch shots?" I replied, "As you drive." When she asked, "How do I putt?" I replied again, "As you drive."

I continued, "As the shot, and consequently the club, becomes shorter, we stand a little more open to the hole and draw the feet closer Together and bring the ball back nearer to the right foot. When playing with the driver the ball will be placed just inside the line of the left heel — with a No. 8 iron it will be just inside the right heel."

I did not need to explain to her that the more we face the hole the nearer to the line of flight will the club head go back — or that the nearer we stand to the ball the more vertical will be our swing (because we are looking more directly down, our shoulders dip more on the way back and in consequence our club head comes up more steeply "naturally").

I did not need to explain these points because the correct action is the natural outcome of the position taken up — provided that the fundamentals of the swing are not interfered with.

Teaching golf as all one shot simplified her game. It prevented her other shots from interfering with her drive or her drive confusing her other shots, because all the shots were fundamentally the same. And though this pupil was taught with a driver only she now plays the most delicate run-up shots, and pitches excellently, in fact, she runs up better than do many players with handicaps lower than her own 15.

Incidentally I look on that 15 as one of the outstanding proofs of the soundness of the theories propounded in this book.

The fault with much of the golf teaching of today, professional as well as amateur, is that the teacher tries to eradicate specific faults by issuing specific instructions. In short, the "good tip" system again. This is fatal, mainly because it is no system at all but just a conglomeration of golf patent medicines.

The true aim of the teacher who desires to build up a sound and dependable game in a golf student, must be to link up in the student a line of controls. And for reasons which will become obvious as you read this blog-book, the aim of the student must be to carry out the teacher's instructions irrespective of immediate results.

This concludes chapter 1 on teaching golf. Click on this link if you want to see the part 1 of Teaching Golf.

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