One thing I always ask my students is, "who is your best golf instructor?" And of course most think I am shamelessly looking for an ego stroke. So they answer with, "You Coach?" When I tell them that is not the correct answer, they move on to other people.
But the correct answer in today's world is that the student is their own best coach. How can this be? How can a student teach themselves? After all most great players had swing instructors (that by the way, they made famous). Just to mention a few, Nicklaus had Jack Grout, Bobby Clampett made the book 'The Golf Machine' and Ben Doyle the talk of the golf community back in the late 70's and early 80's. And Tiger has added fame and fortune to a number of teaching pros. Well the answer is in how kids best learn the game.
When I was a kid just learning the game (back in the early 70's), I read a book by Sam Snead where he pointed out that the best way kids learn golf is by having them copy or imitate others. Phil Mickelson exemplifies Snead's assertion as he claims that he learned to play left handed because he wanted to copy his dad's swing. On the practice rang, if Phil hit left handed, he could face and watch his dad who was right handed.
But in the past, copying someone else's swing was not all that easy. It was hard to do without some help from a second set of eyes. For example, Nicklaus would take his driver a bit past parallel. But in my attempt to copy Nicklaus's backswing, I could not tell exactly how far I was actually taking the club back. So I would ask my Dad to watch my backswing to see if I was doing it like Nicklaus. And boy did I need his help as what I felt was just a bit past parallel was in reality way past parallel.
Of course back then, many were trying to hit sky high fades with a flying right elbow on their backswing (just like Nicklaus).This is akin to today's students trying to copy Tiger's squatting 'compression' move on the start of his downswing. In the old days, most would quickly give up and try something else. But today there are many more players that seem to have fundamentally correct swings. For example, if you put Adam Scott's swing next to Tiger's old swing it is hard to tell them apart. So why is it that 'unique' swings today are more the exception than the rule? Only a few decades ago most of the great pros were as far from 'classic' as Jim Furyk and Bubba Watson are today. Why is it that today Furyk and Watson are the exception and no longer the norm?
Technology Is The Answer
With today's digital toys, golfers can now immediately see their swings and no longer have to rely on 'feel.' Nor does one need to find a second set of eyes to tell them if they are swinging correctly. Instead they can immediately review every swing they make on the practice range using all sorts of video gadgets. And they can see it in slow motion at up to 240 fps if they have access to the latest iPhone! Plus, they can view their swing side by side with the player the want to copy. They can go frame by frame comparing their positions throughout the full swing. So, there is no longer any excuse for a player not to develop exactly the swing that they want!
Trackman and Other Launch Monitors
Launch monitors are taking swing analysis and feedback to yet another level. Swings now can be analyzed quantitatively. . . By the numbers. Angle of attack, swing path, face angle, spin rotation, etc. can be known about every swing.
So, if a player can immediately:
- See their swing
- Get analytic data about the swing
- Know exactly how far the ball goes
- Compare any swing to any Pro's swing
Why does anyone need a $200 / hour pro trying to tell them how to make a perfect swing? In my opinion, they do not! How golf will be taught in the future is being revolutionized by technology.
Consultants vs. Instructors
Someone (I think it was Nicklaus) once said, "Never take a golf lesson from someone you can beat." If this is true, why is Tiger (or any top player) taking lessons from anyone? With today's technology shouldn't Tiger Woods decide how he wants to swing a golf club? And shouldn't the people he surrounds himself with be more consultants on how to use and get the most out of the modern digital tools? I assert the answer is a big ,"YES."
The professionals of tomorrow will no longer be trying to sell you the 'swing of the day,' or the 'gimmick de jour.' It will no longer matter how you swing, but how well you can manipulate and consistently control your launch monitor numbers. The pro of the future will be helping you compare your swing to a base model swing you want to emulate. Furthermore, they will be consulting you on which numbers to concentrate on during practice in order to get the best and fastest returns.
THE BOTTOM LINE . . .
Technology is changing the way we can learn the game. And although some people will still teach and learn the old fashioned way, those that embrace the new tools will gain a significant advantage over those that do not. Referring to my post 'What Makes A Golf Champion,' the new tools will allow one to increase their Skill Level at a breakneck-speed. We may not see more sub-60 rounds, but more people will be shooting under par at younger and younger ages.