You Want Proof? Golf Industry Scam Or Not? (Updated)

imperfect lies coverUpdated with this comment from me in response to a comment from David:

PS – I’m not saying today’s instructors are all deliberately selling snake oil. But when you get to a certain level, you should know this is a bogus swing method.

So I can break modern golf instructors down into two camps: They are either A) Guys who don’t know enough about a proper golf swing to teach the swing at all or B) Guys who know better but want to complicate it so they’re never out of work.

I don’t think much of either group, but at least one of them is honest… in a way…”

I had said that I couldn’t think of a passage off-hand to reference John Christensen’s new book “Perfect Swing, Imperfect Lies” about the life of Mike Austin.  I have thought of the perfect passage, and not because it relates to Mike Austin, but as it relates to the state of modern golf instruction.

I’ve told you that the modern golf swing is, in my personal opinion, either the child of idiots or an out-an-out scam.  That is based simply on my inability to fathom how the modern golf swing is taught and advocated not only by its teachers but so-called kinesiology and fitness experts.

Well, why don’t you just read this truncated passage from John’s book,  which I am limiting in words to accord with fair use:

According to PGA of America senior writer Bob Denney, the PGA has invited teaching pros to address its annual meeting only twice.

The first was Ernest Jones…But Jones’ presentation to the PGA in November 1950 alarmed its members because his method was simpler and less time-consuming than body-focused instruction.

At a time when the average pro was giving 600 lessons a year, Jones was averaging 3,000, and Smith (who served as the PGA president from 1952 to 1954) told Jones that his method was “too simple. We wouldn’t sell enough lessons.

Christensen, John (2013-11-24). Perfect Swing, Imperfect Lies: The Legacy of Golf’s Longest Hitter (Kindle Locations 971-975). . Kindle Edition.

The bold and underline are mine.  So, you have a man who headed the PGA of America (the teaching pros, the playing pros are part of the PGA Tour) telling an accomplished instructor after his presentation to them on the golf swing that his method was “too simple” and that they “wouldn’t sell enough lessons.”

This is not a hunch, or a bold-faced and false accusation.  I am highlighting the words of the later President of the PGA of America when he spoke to Jones.

You can imagine why they stopped asking people to address their annual meetings…

Remember that quote, my friends, the next time someone calls you a conspiracy theorist for saying the modern swing is a scam.

The industry simply has no interest in teaching a proper golf swing, because it’s too easy to teach and maintain.

And I invite anyone from the PGA of America to say different.

And perhaps now you’ll understand my frustration with and disdain for Tiger Woods’ golf swing.  It is a complete and utter farce, and the greatest golfer in the history of the game has one of the worst swings of any of the greats, and all because he can’t see through the same marketing hype that has his fans paying $400 to buy just a version of the Driver he carries in his bag but refuses to use…

Talk about comic tragedy…

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14 thoughts on “You Want Proof? Golf Industry Scam Or Not? (Updated)

  1. David

    Great post, DJ. It makes me look forward even more to reading John’s book tonight ….

    I will say that it is possible that modern PGA of America members are not necessarily intentional perpetrators of the scam; they may have simply bought into the nonsense established by their predecessors which has since been handed down as gospel. Nonetheless, I imagine that someone at the top knows better ….

    By all accounts I’ve read, Ernest Jones was a great teacher. He taught how to let a club swing itself…. much like you advocate swinging a club the way you would swing a stick. Speaking of which, I had the option today of squeezing in one last round of golf this season (it’s 55*F out amidst days in the 30’s) but decided instead to go to the range and work on my MPS motion. Boy was I happy with the results- you are right, DJ, on how important it is to maintain the kinetic chain. The more inside and under you get the start of the backswing, the more it is like swinging a stick (or an axe or a sledgehammer). Get the chain moving correctly and you can just whip that club through!! None of this out and up nonsense with the modern backswing.

    1. D Watts Post author

      “None of this out and up nonsense with the modern backswing.”

      I apologize, David – I am afraid that, having now grasped the mechanics of the perfect swing motion (and MCS is proper and correct all the way), you will be of decreasing civility when discussing the modern swing.

      Sorry… 😉

      PS – I’m not saying today’s instructors are all deliberately selling snake oil. But when you get to a certain level, you should know this is a bogus swing method.

      So I can break modern golf instructors down into two camps: They are either A) Guys who don’t know enough about a proper golf swing to teach the swing at all or B) Guys who know better but want to complicate it so they’re never out of work.

      I don’t think much of either group, but at least one of them is honest… in a way…

      1. David

        You may be right about my future decreasing civility. Just trying to keep my tone civil while I can! 🙂

        All props to you bro

  2. jmwald

    I really vote for the child of idiots as opposed to the scam theory…I have several friends who are pga pros…I really think they try as hard as they can to improve their students swings…In my field, I believe that I and about 500 other H.I.T. trainers who follow the scientific exercise methods of the late Arthur Jones are the only people in the country with a clue about the most result producing and safest way to exercise for strength and health…I believe the other thousands of trainers and millions of trainees are misguided, misinformed, and greedy…ooops, I just made your point, didn’t I…lol…Joel Waldman

  3. chiefcowpie

    But how would what Earnest Jones swing or is there even one? hold up to the MCS and the MPS sniff test.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ernest_Jones_(golfer)

    “Jones began to ask himself how it could be that he could yet score so effectively, with such a radical change needing to be made to how his body swung the club having only one leg. Jones himself as well as countless others proved to be able to play well with missing body parts or body parts that were limited in their functioned.

    Despite the prevalence of golf instruction that described these missing or misfunctioning parts as being essential, Jones and others demonstrated that a golfer’s brain would devise compensating strategies to yet produce fine golf shots. This success, in conjunction with his reading of Sir Walter Simpson’s book, “The Art of Golf”, brought him to the fundamental fact that the key to a successful golf shot was not the correct movement of certain body parts, but the correct movement of the club.

    Instead of the movement of body parts, the real key was the successful movement of the golf club. Jones had happened upon the then-little-understood fact that the human brain need only experience a persons desire to perform a task. On its own the brain devises a means to create the muscular action to achieve the task.

    The individual is only aware of “what” they want to do. The brain’s action in deciding “how” it will accomplish the task is completely unconscious. This explains how very proficient golfers often report that they have little understanding of “how” they swing and only understand that they can do so when they choose.

    Thus it was the case that Jones began his now-famous quest to discover, document, and disseminate a description of “how” the club swung and how to most easily teach the club’s movements to others. The result was the writing of many articles on this subject and the publishing of two books. Further, Jones took every opportunity to share his insights with fellow professionals. Jones’ simple concept is summarized in the classic “Swing The Clubhead” instruction.

    Ironically, it is the drastic simplicity of his approach to golf instruction that met with rancor and objection when he was invited by the PGA (Professional Golfers’ Association of America) to present his work.”!

    Certainly a fascinating guy!

  4. steve2

    For those who don’t want to wade through through daddyo’s LINK, I’ll summarize the Ernest Jones book, which was written by a 5-handicap student of Jones.

    “The true golf-swing is to be achieved, not by placing the body and the limbs into a series of carefully chosen positions.”
    –This totally discredits modern teaching.

    “…if the golfer tried to make his movements correspond with those indicated by an action photograph, he would be tempted to give undue attention to the accommodating movements…” –This destroys the core of modern teaching, which is using video.

    Supposedly, Ernest Jones taught that the grip is dominated by the pressure of the forefinger and thumb–considered to be grip-wreckers today. This author claims that the body follows the the hands, which I believe might be a “feel,” but not technically true. Austin had things to say about the body, and so does DJ.

    This author also credits Ernest Jones with the idea of a hub moving a wheel, and speed vs. power.

    Another book, “Swing the Clubhead” was Jones’ most famous work.

    I agree with jmwald: modern teaching is probably the result of ignorance more than deception. I once sank 27 free throws in a row (never scored 50 like DJ), and I don’t know any more about free-throw shooting than “put some leg into it.” Just because someone can perform a physical act does not mean that they can teach it. It would be hard to name any other field that is as messed-up as golf instruction.

    1. D Watts Post author

      “…modern teaching is probably the result of ignorance more than deception.”

      That would be a disturbing thought, Steve. Deception, I can understand while still deploring it, as deception is motivated by profit. Simple and rank incompetence, I would find even more appalling, and hard to swallow.

      1. steve2

        About rank incompetence…is it really that hard to swallow? In 1.3 seconds, somebody uses at least 650 muscles (or 840, if complex muscles are counted as more than one). And an object is taken from a stop to around 100 mph or more. And this is done while staying in balance and not causing an injury.

        This is the problem that golf pros have: “The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education.” ~ Albert Einstein

        Before you came on the scene, golf education was obviously faulty. “I’ve said ‘I’ve got it!’ a million times, usually preceding an extended funk where I had no idea what I was doing anymore.” If golf education wasn’t faulty, that could never have happened.

        1. D Watts Post author

          “I’ve said ‘I’ve got it!’ a million times, usually preceding an extended funk where I had no idea what I was doing anymore.”

          Ha ha, clever you quote me back to myself. You’re forgetting one thing – the only reason it took me so long to figure it out was that I had to first purge all the pollution of the modern swing. I read and watched a lot of conventional things while doing my research, and it was a negative influence.

          If Sam Snead could figure out a swing with a stick, and Chi Chi Rodriguez the same, I can’t imagine that golf has been waiting for me to set things straight.

          I just observe and report my findings…

  5. steve2

    You don’t give yourself enough credit. It’s not that others don’t have a piece of the puzzle. They just never put it all together.

    The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance—it is the illusion of knowledge. You fought through that. It is a simple task to make things complex, and a complex task to make them simple.

    By the way, Harry Vardon was a teacher too. He advised people to first swing a club for a month with no ball.

    1. D Watts Post author

      “The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance—it is the illusion of knowledge.”

      Reminds me of the other quote that encapsulates the current teaching model – “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing…”

      And Vardon’s advice is right along the lines of the swing stick. Great advice.

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