Converting Athleticism to Golf
One of the things that I think is interesting is to watch how other sport athletes struggle with golf. You’ll see major sports stars from tennis, baseball, etc. tackle this game with difficulty. This topic was chosen today in response to a question by Robert, who wrote in to TheWedgeGuy (and won a FREE EIDOLON V-SOLE wedge for being chosen):
“I am a 49 year old ex-athlete who just recently picked up the game (2 years ago). I have finally taken a few lessons and have been shooting in the low 90's and occasional high 80's. My question is that my instructor has changed my swing into something that is extremely uncomfortable to me. If I grip the club comfortably and swing the club rhythmically (which feels good to me), he re-directs me into something that feels uncomfortable, herky-jerky, out-of-tempo, etc. How can I find a happy medium?
Well, Robert, yours is not an unusual problem for other sport athletes. You don’t mention what sport you excelled in, so let me just cover the bases. It seems that the best “other sport” golfers are from hockey, or they are baseball pitchers or football quarterbacks. In my experience, the baseball hitters and tennis players have difficulty with golf because it is really a totally different exercise in ball striking. I think a huge problem with those sports translating to golf is that they are very right hand/master eye centric – they are totally built around your eye/hand coordination.

In baseball and tennis, you learn swing basics, but you then apply them to a completely reactive endeavor. The same goes for basketball and some other sports. The ball is always in a different place in relation to your body core and you have split seconds to decide how to put a racket or bat on it, or to shoot it. Eye/hand coordination and reflex time are in play completely.

Golf, on the other hand, is a totally proactive swing activity. You have total control over where the ball is in position to your body core, time to perfect your posture and alignment, and you don’t have to “pull the trigger” until you are completely prepared and ready for the action. That requires (and allows) a peaceful presence of mind, and the ability to focus intensely on each swing.

John Smolz’ recent tour experienced notwithstanding, baseball pitchers seem to be the best golfers, along with NFL quarterbacks. In my opinion, that’s because they are more trained in mental preparation, and isolation of each mini-performance. They know the way the last pitch or throw can and will affect the next one, much like the way your last golf shot will get in your mind for the next one.

If you think of your golf swing as much more like a pitcher standing on the mound facing a hitter and focused only on the catcher’s glove, and not like the hitter standing in the box waiting on a pitch, you will begin to dissect this game down to its basics:
  1. You must learn the “static” fundamentals of grip, posture, ball position – if those are not correct, you cannot make a solid fundamentally correct golf swing.

  2. You rehearse the rhythmic and graceful swing of the golf club through an imaginary impact zone until you feel like you can rely on it.

  3. You learn how to position yourself so that the ball will be in the way of that rehearsed swing each and every shot you face.

  4. And you navigate around 150 acres of real estate, making swing after swing, always with a defined objective in mind.
That might be an oversimplification, but is it really? You guys tell me.
The Wedge Guy is sponsored by SCOR Golf, where Terry Koehler is President/CEO. He encourages you to submit your questions or topics to be considered for his columns on Tuesdays and Fridays. Each submission automatically enters you to win a SCOR4161 wedge to be given away monthly. Click the button below to submit your question or topic today.

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Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf- The Short Game Company.

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