I'm so sorry I had to write this article. A lot of you readers out there are not going to like or agree with what I have to say here. Especially those of you out there who think they can figure out the golf swing on your own. I am simply writing this after two decades of experience and what I have found to be true after having done thousands of lessons.
First let me start off by asking you some questions... Do you think it is coincidence that almost every professional player has a swing coach? Even after centuries of this game, we still have not found the "Magic Bullet" in the form of a book, a training aid, or any technology that's a solve all as it pertains to improving the golf swing. You would think that after all this time the game of golf has been around, there should be better-average golfers out there. However, in the past 30 years the average handicap of a recreational golfer has only gone down 2 strokes. One could argue that's mostly due to equipment innovation.
The fact is that most golfers have this idea that they can simply practice golf, read books, magazines or other youtube videos and somehow magically improve their swing. I am not saying it is impossible, but I am saying it's highly unlikely. The typical reaction I get time and time again when I am trying to go over swing changes with a student is astonishment! "There is no way I'm supposed to swing like that! It feels like just arms! I thought I was supposed turn my hips," "I thought I was supposed to cock my wrists like this" or "Aren't you supposed to keep you head down." These are just a few of the many ways the misinterpretation of the golf swing has kept golfers from getting better. That why it is so important to have a seasoned coach show you your swing as compared to the best players in the world. You have to remember, golfers come in different shapes and sizes, golf is one of the few sports where you can actually move more like a professional.
Feel is different that Real
When first showing my students their swings, most of them are surprised because of how drastically different they look compared to a pros. And again, when putting them through swing changes, they can swear they look even funnier. However, after awhile of grooving the correct feels and watching their improvement, they are confident in the fact that they look much better and after some more time getting used to the feels they actually feel more free and powerful. Here is an example of a student who completely could not believe the difference in how he was changing his swing:
Time and time again, I get the response from my students, "There is no way I could have figured this on my own." It is true, the complicated kinematic sequence of the golf swing is almost too difficult to diagnose on your own unless you either have high tech 3D motion analysis or an experienced coach with technological tools at hand.
I am not trying to discourage you
Please don't take this article to heart if you are one of many who are trying to fix your own swing issues on your own. I am not trying to tell you it can't be done. However, I am trying to say that it will be unlikely, especially if you have some major issues. It is worth it to go see a seasoned coach to examine you against the professionals and see how you stack up. Also, if you are going to go about it on your own, make sure the sources that you get your information are based on research and data. There are too many resources where coaches or even players are giving their opinion. Believe it or not, even they can be wrong. Remember, feel is different than real. Make sure that the tips that you're reading regarding the kinematic sequence of the golf swing are based off of measured data of the professionals.
I've been getting a lot of questions lately on what technical studies have influenced me in my teaching. The following below is a list of some of the more popular research papers that I have read to understand the golf swing at a much deeper level. It is not necessary for the average golfer to comprehend this knowledge at the kinetic level, however it does not hurt to understand the findings reported in these papers.
I also believe it is essential for swing coaches to have a grasp of what science is putting out so that we can sift through all the BS and actually know what methods are based on myth and what methods can validate our teachings. Every swing coach is only going to get better at what he does when their teachings are based on facts.
LIST OF RESOURCES
Study focuses on club path relationship to body
A study showing the differences in body parts in angular velocities.
Body segment timing differences between pros and amateurs. This report validates my earlier blog post about the golf swing being a system of gears.
Using the 4 segments in the body. Findings show importance of wrists working in flexion to square clubface in the downswing.
For club design implications: