The reason I’ve taken so long to “build” a swing that works for me, personally, is because I’ve grown up and played sports where technique was paramount and where you reacted unconsciously on the field of play.
When you think about motion, things get iffy – I remember that my greatest struggle in shooting a basketball came after I’d set a new school scoring record in a tournament, and it hadn’t sunk in the next game during the same tournament, the last we played…
But the next school league game following that weekend, word had spread and the bleachers were packed, some having come from other schools to spectate – and everyone was waiting for me to repeat the performance.
I actually shot an air-ball that game during the first half, so conscious was I of my mechanics – so the less you think about technique, the better – unless you’re doing something incorrect, and then it can be devastating.
And most people are doing something incorrect (and you can make that “ALL” if it’s the Modern Swing, because that is invented motion and not natural), however solid their technique, when it comes to the golf swing, so most people end up in a perpetual state of half-consciousness, swinging largely without much thought but still making conscious compensations (otherwise known as “swing thoughts”) to avoid disaster…until something puts them out of their comfort zone.
That happens all the time when you see high-level golfers on TV having a great time shooting 59 or whatever, and then the next round they struggle to break 70 – it’s the psychological barrier of having done something unconsciously, and now trying to repeat it with conscious effort.
You’ve seen it when a player who has never contended in a major finds him or herself in the final group on the weekend after playing great early golf – and then they promptly begin to fade after the first bogey, finishing far out of the 1st position.
Call it choking, call it what you want, but “choking” usually happens because you become so conscious of your mechanics in this new situation that you seize up and fall on your face, not because you just couldn’t take the heat.
That’s why most players who choke away a major lead call it a “learning experience” and most end up back in that position again and capitalize on it the next time around – unless their name is XYZ, and we all know to whom I’m referring, but I’m not here to disparage anyone personally.
Or even another example, when you’ve grooved a swing that has compensations, but you’ve ironed them out to half-consciously manipulate your swing, and then on a certain tee or approach shot, you step in and forget to compensate and you just swing unconsciously – and POW… that ball is going sideways or something similar.
That has been my bane with the golf swing – I had to build my own model due to the Modern Golf Swing being something I would never accept because I knew better early into my swing research, and because I’m left-handed swinging right, I’ve always been on that fine edge of honing the technique I had and also having to consciously manipulate the swing, because if I just swung unconsciously, really bad things would happen.
I’ve now figured out that nothing I have done incorrectly in my swing in 2017 had anything to do with not knowing how to swing – it was that my own positioning and setup weren’t ideal or optimal for me, and so however well I swung, there was a conscious element to it, and I’ve been hunting that ever-elusive (for me) target of getting over the ball and just swinging.
If you take away the vertical lines in this swing below (from 2016), there’s nothing you’d say is wrong about it, and I pelted it down the line, but I was obviously having to use hand-eye coordination to to do because of how far left my hips shifted on the down swing:
And here’s the kicker – there was nothing wrong with my motion or that hip shift, it’s how I move – the problem was where I had the ball in my setup.
It could be perfect for someone else, but for me, it’s not optimal, because of my hip action and the fact that my spinal deformity means I’m more left at impact than others would be.
So, you not only have to set your body up properly, you have to do the same for your grip and ball position (which I’ve just demonstrated can vary from person to person), and that’s the old Fundamentals Trifecta of ancient MCS lore!
This was why I changed my philosophy of an absolute ball position in prior MCS videos and postings to the procedure I talk about in the “E = MCS” video.
Not Bad…But I Can Do Better
The problem for me is simply that in 2017, all of my time was devoted to the video production and aftermath, and I only got around to breaking down and fixing my own setup procedure after the season ended.
Better late than never.
I’ve talked about how the past few rounds of golf that I’ve played, I had very little conscious memory of the swings I made, and yet I know I wasn’t where I wanted to be – and that’s why I’m so excited about 2018 – I still haven’t made close to the best swings I can yet make!
I’ve been close…very close, but until I’m actually there, I’m still hunting.
Because the last thing I want to do over the ball on a 240 yard par 3 shot over water is to be thinking about the swing I’m making. Or on that long par 5 where I need to get it out there into the fairway at 300+ yards to get home in two… I want to just step up to it, get set over the ball and pull that trigger.
Ben Hogan is my shining example of someone who had the iron discipline to take a technique that was problematic (all of those anti-hook compensations he built around the best technical pivot action you’ll ever see) and win everything in sight – but he had to practice all day, every day, or he couldn’t do it.
Tiger Woods is another – he showed that he could win with any swing he chose to use, but only if he was spending his whole life on the range and course working on things.
So, my long point is that, while honing your swing and making it as mechanically-sound as you can may be a frustrating experience, it is a far better way to go about it in the long run.
Jack Nicklaus has 18 majors largely because he didn’t have re-tool the swing he learned as a youth, and except for times when he fell out of his optimal action, he could focus on other things and not worry about the swing.
That is a luxury he could afford because his swing was very sound. Add that to his supreme confidence, course management and putting…and you have golf’s greatest major champion of all time.
Contrast that to Hogan and Woods, who had to devote their entire lives to be the winners they were (and it’s no insult to either, just a comparison to Nicklaus), and I think the easier way to do it is to build a proper and mechanically-sound swing, then go work on all the other things that make one a great golfer.
And having taken my usual off-season look at my own swing, I have determined that the only problem I’ve had was in the setup, so I’ve taken care of that so that my free and natural swing action can be set free.
Is my swing “good enough” right now? I’m sure some would say it is, but since I’m a swing analyst and all I do is analyze motion, I know that mine can be even better, and I know how to do that, and so of course, that’s what I’m going to do!
So, I’m champing at the bit to get back out of doors this winter, but I have the eBook to finish, and then another couple of months before spring arrives.
In that time, I’ll be getting used to the adjustments I’ve made in my setup (which are, actually just my personal ball position in the stance to account for my aggressive hip action and spinal deformity), and come March or April – I’ll be setting about updating my swing archive (pretty good, but I can do better) and getting down to everything else that 2018 holds in store!
Back Pain or Back Injury Swinging a Golf Club?
Lacking Power, Speed, Distance and or Consistency?
Need A Swing That Is More Easily Maintained?
If You Answered “Yes” To Any Of The Above Questions, The Answer Is In The Formula For The Golf Swing: