Golf instruction is nothing if not debatable. Like fashion, trends come and go. We’ve had The Golfing Machine, Natural Golf, Stack-and-Tilt, Hogan, Square-to-Square, The A Swing, Impact Zone, Grip-it-and-Rip-It and Close-Your-Eyes-And-Hope-For-The-Best (a personal favorite). It’s now a fad to go back and look at “how the greatest players ever” swung, and attempt to copy “classic” swings. We’ve completed a cycle and some instructors are back to teaching swings from the 1920s.
There is so much information out there it’s mind-boggling. Flipping through the same golf magazine, we often read two tips that completely contradict each other. As good as the instructors on The Golf Channel are, they dispute their previous advice regularly. Some feel the body controls the motion, others the arms, one wants your head centered and another feels it should move. Restrict your hip turn, turn your hips until your lead heel is off the ground. How can the average player possibly progress?
It all becomes a question of what is “fundamental” in golf. Weak and strong grips have won majors. Open and closed stances are in the Golf Hall of Fame. Great players have had elegant, balanced swings and vicious, quick thrashes. If you’ve played for awhile, you’ve probably golfed with someone whose swing looks hideous, yet they bruise fairways and greens repeatedly.
One thing in golf remains true. If a player hits the ball in the center of the clubface, the ball will most likely get closer to the hole. It’s a simple but often overlooked philosophy. We get so caught up in positions, planes and angles that we forget the point of the game. That’s why my teaching philosophy centers around compression. You can play a fade or draw. You can take divots or not at all. It’s all about finding a way for YOU to batter the sweet spot until the grooves disappear.
Everything you do in golf should be built from contact outward. From putting to driving, the club is designed a certain way: to be hit dead center. Of course, getting fit will help you achieve this goal regularly, as will building an efficient, repeatable swing. Just don’t get caught up in the whirlwind of 10,000 different tips and swing theories (I’ve been there too). I remember someone saying Fred Couples hasn’t missed the sweet spot in 30 years, and I guarantee you or I can’t swing the same way (as splendid as it would be). He found a way that works for him, and he compresses the ball every single time (into his late 50s).
As we get closer to the season, we’ll discuss the most efficient ways to achieve compression. For now, remember that trying to force your body or club into a position that “looks good” is not going to lower your score. The only fundamental every great player shares is drumming the heart of the clubface regularly. You can too.