How to create an artist vs machine on the golf course
This summer many junior golfers will be participating in clinics, leagues, camps and tournaments. As an instructor, I believe it’s important for us to understand our responsibility when teaching Junior Golfers. Which road are we sending them down? Is it a road of being an artist or a machine?
In my opinion Nick Faldo, Tiger Woods and Bernard Langer are machines, while players like Sam Sneed, Fred Couples, Tom Watson and Phil Michelson have been artists on the golf course.
When you look at their longevity in the game, you will see a clear difference. Some players are born with rhythm and because of this, they have created longevity in their careers. They may not have technically perfect swings, but many have continued to be competitive on tour. Traditionally the game and the teaching of the game, has been extremely focused on technique. I am not saying that technique is not important, but what I am saying, is that to create longevity in the game, perhaps our focus needs to shift to having a greater understanding of rhythm and the impact it has. When a machine breaks down, it breaks down in pieces and parts. You can get an artificial knee, but it will never quite be the same. Some body parts like your back are ultimately not replaceable.
If we offered anyone the career of Tiger Woods, every single person would take his career, except maybe Jack Nicklaus. But what has transpired is someone with great talent being plagued by injuries. Can you see Tiger Woods winning the Masters at 46 like Jack Nicklaus? Perhaps, but can you see him nearly winning the British Open at 59 like Tom Watson? Can you see Tiger Woods shooting his age in a PGA Tour event like Sam Sneed? In my opinion Tiger Woods went from being an artist in 2000 under Butch Harmon to being a machine under Hank Haney. What are we teaching our juniors? Are we bringing out the artists in our children or are we creating machines?
The machines focus on technique and the artists focus on rhythm. Jordan Spieth referred to focusing on keeping his rhythm in the final holes of winning the US Open last year. We’ve heard Nick Faldo comment on the Golf Channel about how keeping your rhythm on the last day of a tournament is the most important element of your game.
The winds of change are blowing. For 100 years we’ve been taught about technique, when clearly rhythm is far more important in the longevity of the game. When you are practicing on the driving range, how much focus are you giving to your rhythm? When you are teaching someone, how much focus are you placing on rhythm?
The challenge with practicing or teaching rhythm is that to date it’s been an elusive concept. Technique is a lot easier to quantify, which is probably the reason why most teaching gravitates towards technique. It’s quantifiable, logical and easier to understand. Bobby Jones said “Rhythm and timing are the two things which we all must have, yet no one knows how to teach either”. The GOOD NEWS is that there is finally an answer to how to teach rhythm. There is a solution to make rhythm, logical, quantifiable and easy to understand AND we now have an answer for how to make it easy to teach. How, you ask?
It’s simple. The secret to having great rhythm is finishing your backswing. When you finish your backswing, you create time in your swing for your body, hands and club to work together, resulting in a swing with great rhythm. Your “bad” swing comes from not finishing your backswing. When your transition is too quick, your body, hands and club are out of sync resulting in your ball not going where you wanted it to go.
So how do you easily teach or practice the concept of finishing your backswing? A great rhythm and tempo trainer I’ve discovered and have had great success with is the Swingclick (www.Swingclick.com).
When we teach juniors, we know we’re going to teach them grip, alignment, stance and posture. I strongly believe we should add a another fundamental: ‘Finishing your backswing’.
Developing players with great rhythm will mean that they have a life long relationship with the game. Let’s make golf simple and let’s create artists as opposed to machines.
By Mike Quinn, Golf Instructor and former Sunshine Tour Player