Do You Want To Play Golf As A SPORT Or As a GAME?

mike trout top golfYou may think it’s an odd question, but it’s a question for the serious, want to learn a proper swing person to consider.

The reason I ask is because you can play golf with ANY type of golf swing, good, bad, horrific, and you can play it very well if you’re prepared to practice endlessly to develop a repeating move with all of the flaws contained in an “anything goes” swing.

Just look the professional golf tours – you have people swinging in ways that will eventually take them right out of the game with injuries and chronic pain issues due to that swing, but they’ll earn (some of them) millions of dollars before that happens.

Look at Tiger Woods – 2nd all-time in majors won and the most Tour wins ever (whatever Sam Snead’s number is, some of those wins were not real tournaments by today’s standards), who has played his entire career with a swing type (Modern, and you can lump every single type of swing he worked on with various instructors under this one umbrella) that slowly destroyed his back & knees.

Tiger Woods, if you think about it, has destroyed his body playing golf as a SPORT with a swing that should have been used to play golf as a GAME.

If you’re confused, don’t be, as it is likely many of you have never played competitive sports and have only really played golf, or haven’t played anything but golf in a long time.

In fact, speaking of athletes and sports, remember the big hubbub when Mike Trout achieved 180 mph ball speed at a Top Golf, and how he swung the club when he did:

mike trout golf swing

Even with the decades Modern Golf instruction as been around by now, how did Mr. Trout hit that ball?

With a Classic Golf Swing action, because Trout swings a baseball bat for a living and sure as Hades isn’t going to cripple himself doing it.

Was it a perfect swing? Of course not, he doesn’t play golf for a living, but if he did, he’d be hitting it even harder and faster with the same type of swing, only better – Classic.

You see, when it comes to sports, technique is King and ability is Crown Prince.  Combine the two, and you’re now an Emperor.

No matter how talented you are in running, jumping or throwing, you will never truly be the emperor of that sport without the requisite technique, because a so-so athlete with impeccable technique will sometimes and many times surpass a natural with poor training and technique discipline.

I know, because I did it my entire life. I did far better in some sports (basketball, track & field, etc) than I had any business doing with my particular athletic ability, because I obsessed about and trained technique.

The 100 metre race is pure sport.

Poker is a GAME.

Golf is actually both, as most sports combine the element of sport with game, but don’t let the success of someone with poor technique prove anything but that hard work & talent will take you a long way in a game even without the proper technique of motion that makes it also sport.

Put Tiger Woods in 1945 with the balls & equipment (and course conditions) that came in those days, and he’d still win.  Because he’d have been taught a golf swing of that era, the mechanically-sound Classic Golf Swing.

However, with his modern technique, take Tiger Woods back to 1945 and he might not even be a pro for more than a handful of years before he completely jacked his back & knees trying to keep up with players like Sam Snead or Jimmy Thomson who could drive and hit balata balls nearly as far as the longer players today, and with far inferior clubs.

The advantage Tiger Woods had over his competitors was that most of them were swinging the same way he does, which levelled the field and gave him as a hard-training athlete the edge.

And yet, even with his athletic advantage, he never matched Jack Nicklaus’ majors total and Classic Swing players in his era (Mickelson, Singh, Bubba) did very well for themselves (with far fewer injuries) against the modern swingers.

The point is, you can do very well in a game even with improper technique if you have enough talent, but when it becomes a sport, you will be at a distinct disadvantage with flawed technique.

If everyone runs backwards in a 100 metre race, someone’s going to win.  Put one runner in there who runs forward with proper technique, who do you think wins?

If they ever do get around to bifurcating golf equipment, I predict one thing only, that will be true if you check this post in later years, bet the farm on it:

The better swingers will once again rise to the top because if it takes greater effort to make a ball go a certain distance because of equipment and ball properties, a wide gulf will open up between a player who can generate 120 mph club speed with a heavier and stiffer club (like an early 90’s Big Bertha stainless steel driver) and spinnier ball and one who requires a thin, feather-light wand and a shoebox at the end of it while hitting a ProV.

Another prediction you can bank on would be a good deal more injuries to Modern swinging players, and at a younger age, trying to swing heavier or shorter-hitting clubs with this faulty technique.

When I did the interview on  Fred Greene’s Smarter Golf podcast, he remarked to me that he’s had better success swinging with restricted hip action than with a more Classic type action.

This is not impossible – if one doesn’t try to drive the ball 300 yards and can live with being a plunker (not to be construed as an insult, rather to describe the type you’ve seen who barely gets any speed off the tee, drives it 220 yards in the fairway and shoots in the 70’s or 80s without breaking a sweat) who gets whatever distances one gets with one’s swing, one can swing a golf club with just about any technique and play good golf (by their standards) and not injure oneself because they’re playing a game.

The minute one decides that they want to drive it and hit it as far and straight as they physically can however, one had better ask oneself if they want to play golf as a GAME or as a SPORT.

Because trying to treat golf as a sport with a game swing is going to lead to tears.

Bet on it.

If you think TW was happy about being on the edge of mandatory retirement due to physical issues caused by swinging a 13 oz club – before his full-time career was essentially ended by the leg injuries he sustained in his car wreck – and not because he can’t play the game anymore, think again.

He’d do anything to still be winning majors.

Anything but learn a proper swing, apparently.  And that’s likely because he’s fallen for the canard that a Modern swing is superior to the Classic.

And don’t forget why the golf industry is still pushing the Modern Swing in its instruction and use of obedient analysts on TV – the Modern Swing is impossible to master, while the Classic is a very basic and easily taught sequence of mechanically-correct motions.

What would you want people trying to learn if you were a golf instructor charging $100/lesson or equipment seller counting on frustrated players to shell out $600 for a new driver every season?

If you know the answer, you’re ahead of the GAME.