If you want to improve, be careful who you listen to

Bernie McGuire
Bernie McGuire

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As golfers we are bombarded with opinions, fixes and punditry but if you want to improve be selective in what you listen to.

There are so many different concepts, ideas, methods, science and opinions within the coaching world today that for the onlooking golfer it must all look very confusing. Every superstar coach and pundit appears to have an opinion on how to swing the golf club and what is the best way for the already great, tour players to swing the club.

I do enjoy some of the close-up opinion pieces that Brandell Chamblee does in commentary and on the golf channel, I admire his conviction that he is right and the TV spats he has with Duval and Nobilo. It all makes for interesting viewing and if we keep tuning in then they are doing their job. However I wonder what effect it has on the average golfer or the young aspiring golfer who must surely get confused by some of the science, never mind the opinions of some of the pundits.

Moving on from TV we now have social media, podcasts, online lessons and bloggers who throw in their two cents at every opportunity, but at what real benefit to the onlooking golfer? The reality is that golf swing analysis and the interpretation of it has in itself become big business.

Throwing out the latest theory on where your wrist angles should be at the top of the backswing or why hitting up on the ball is better than hitting down is now an everyday feature and have you noticed how the advice always looks similar to how the winning tour player that week swings the club? The more sensational, or controversial the message the more clicks, the more money companies will pay the person delivering the message and on and on it goes!

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not for one minute saying that I don’t enjoy reading, listening and looking at what other coaches have to say. On the contrary, it’s great to share information and ideas. I’m just questioning how much the average or aspiring golfer actually gets from doing the same?

As a coach to golfers of all levels I try to improve my knowledge of the latest science and methods and examine the supporting evidence to see how it can help me be a better coach. Delivering the right information to someone at the right time is a skill and one most coaches work hard to be good at. Again it brings me back to the question as to what benefit the average and aspiring golfer actually gets from viewing, reading and experimenting with the endless amounts of theory and science now available to them?

Take for example a golfer playing off 15 or an elite amateur. Both want to improve, both have aspirations of where they would like to be in 12 months. It sounds cliché to say, but their journey to that goal is very much their own and how they get there will be unique to them. A coach may assess the golfer for their strengths and weaknesses and look at statistics and physical screening as well as some video analysis of their swing to carve the best pathway for them. Focusing on what each golfer needs to make up the difference between where they are today and where they want to be tomorrow is the key to getting better and moving closer to your goal before moving on to the next one, improving in your own way and doing what is relevant to your game.

I say relevant because I think if a theory or method or swing position is not relevant to the way you play or the way you think on the course or if a physical program has no link to what you are trying to do in your swing, then why would you waste time on it? The sooner we improve the sooner we can start enjoying the fruits of our labour and spend more of our time competing and enjoying our game. As a coach I am very lucky that I have some great relationships with my clients and I see communication as a very important aspect in helping them to improve.

Often clients come to me and say they saw this or that online or someone said this to them and “they” are a good golfer. It is all part of playing the game, it’s why we listen to pundits, golf professionals, interviews, opinions, scientific experts etc. because it’s interesting and it’s fun, believe me I will listen to what anyone has to say!

However, in terms of you and your golf, listen, look, read and have fun with it but ask yourself, particularly if you have a goal or you are trying to get somewhere with your game, how is this relevant to me?  If you have a coach tell him or her what you heard and if you thought it was worth trying and if you would benefit, because a good coach wants you to improve quickly, of that I can promise.

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