Band-aid Golf Instruction
If you've taken a golf lesson, you've probably experienced band-aid golf instruction. That's because that is how most golf instructors teach. It's called band-aid instruction because the symptom is treated, not the problem, and this type of golf instruction is not likely to improve your golf game, although it does have a limited place as a valid instruction option.
Because it can produce immediate results, band-aid instruction is of value when it is used as a tune-up for important events, such as an upcoming tournament. However, the problem with Band-aid instruction, and it's a big one, is that results are generally short lived and will usually start to fade within days.
So why does Band-aid instruction not last? Well, when was the last time you tried to learn something that was very difficult and you immediately did it well? The answer is never, because you can't! If you take a lesson and immediately begin to hit the ball better, you've tweaked your swing without making any real changes. Real change means your body and club are moving to different positions than what your body is familiar with and the inevitable result is a loss of coordination. Loss of coordination means hitting worse, not better, and developing coordination with the new movement will take many hours of practice.
The band-aid instructor can usually be identified by their tendency to try and get you to hit better during the lesson which, as I just pointed out, won't happen if you're making real changes. Remember, real changes result in a loss of coordination, which causes poor shots, not good shots. So if you really want to get better, forget the quick fix and make real fundamental changes to your golf swing.
For those wanting a little more detail, here are four of the more common band-aid instruction techniques: shortening a swing, grip changes, arm roll, and trying to get a golfer who comes-over-the-top to drop straight down.
Shortening a swing isn't changing a swing. When a golfer makes a three quarter swing with a wedge, they'll make the same motion as when they make a full swing, it's just shorter. An exception is if a swing change causes the swing to be shorter. An example of this would be working to keep the right elbow down and in (right handed golfers), which will do much more than just shorten the swing.
A grip change seems like a real change, and it is when it is made with a corresponding swing change, but if a grip change is used only as a means to alter shot pattern, then it is being used to treat the symptom, it isn't curing the problem. For example, if you slice, an instructor may strengthen your grip. This will definitely have an effect on your ball flight, but it isn't addressing the cause of your slice. A band-aid grip change often makes things worse as the golfer goes from hitting a consistent and familiar slice to spraying the ball all over the course—hitting anything from a slice to a hook.
Another common band-aid technique used for golfers who slice is to have the golfer roll their arms, or clubface, over through impact in an attempt to avoid an open clubface (slice). Unfortunately, the results are usually the same as with the change to a stronger grip—the golfer will begin to hit everything from slice to severe hook, unless they are gifted with incredible timing. Again, the symptom is being treated without the cause of the slice being addressed. Yes, an open clubface corresponds with a slice, but the real underlying cause of the open clubface is a block, and it is the block that should be addressed so that the open clubface is taken care of without resorting to rolling the arms over through impact.
Most golf instructors will try to fix over-the-top by having the golfer attempt to start the forward swing by trying to drop straight down and/or hold the shoulders back. This ignores the cause of over-the-top and, again, treats the symptom. The cause is a premature closing of the clubface with hands that become active much too soon in the forward swing. Dropping straight down causes an extreme block and can reinforce the need to come over the top, not minimize it.
Casey Eberting Golf Instruction
Tulsa / Broken Arrow, Oklahoma
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