Are we asking good questions?

What would make you a happier, more complete, more satisfied golfer, or person for that matter?
Pretty much every golfer I have met over the last thirty plus years of coaching wants to play better golf, shoot lower scores and enjoy their time on the golf course.
They all have different motivating factors, from beating their golf buddies on a Sunday morning to reducing their handicaps to winning tournaments on the world’s professional tours. Everyone has their own reasons.
Those who achieve their goals tend to have a plan and stick to it. That plan generally includes an element of flexibility but by and large, it is adhered to. I could bore you with a thousand motivational quotes and cliches about those who fail to plan, plan to fail etc… but I’m sure you’ve heard them all before.
Having a plan is great but before you even think about formulating one, take time to think about exactly what it is you feel you need to do to in order to achieve your goals.
Do you need to turn your shoulders more in your backswing? Improve your kinematic sequence? Create better ground reaction forces or any number of technical and or physical changes.
OR, do you quite simply need to learn how to control your golf ball and your attention better on the golf course?
I recently saw something on social media that literally made me shake my head. A golfer had posted a slow motion swing for whatever reason, there was no explanation, just a swing. There was no cry for help, no “what do you think?” Nothing.
However, someone who had viewed it then asked a coach for his thoughts, which were – “No increase in lead hip hinge in transition therefore making it difficult for lead arm to pull downward also probably increasing secondary spine therefore catapulting trail arm way from torso through release.”
At no point did the coach ask what the player what he was working on or paying attention to. More importantly, what he was trying to do with the golf ball! Was he trying to hit it high or low? Was his intention to hit a fade, draw or straight shot? Without that vital information, forming an opinion based on aesthetics is a very dangerous thing to do. Not to mention the fact that the player wasn’t asked if he was carrying an injury or if he had any physical restrictions or limitations. As a result, lots of assumptions were made.
It is all too easy to jump in way too quickly with an opinion based on “the look” of a swing. Until we know what any given player’s INTENTION is on any given shot, offering advice is not what I would consider to be a wise move.
Even if the aforementioned player had asked for thoughts or advice, surely the question should be “What is wrong with my shots?” NOT “What is wrong with my swing?”
Ask 50 golf coaches what is wrong with your swing and you will get 50 different answers and opinions. As if you weren’t confused enough already!
During this period of lockdown, you have probably watched dozens of YouTube videos of hundreds of “swings”, all with a commentary claiming to have the fix for all your faults. The silver bullet for all your woes.
How many of these videos focused on what the ball was doing and how many were clear on the intention for the shot? My suspicion would be that very few mentioned either.
If you were to ask “What is wrong with my shots?”, at the very least, you can start to deal in facts rather than opinions. Surely that has to be a better baseline to form any kind of improvement plan going forward.
Until we can all put our golf shoes on and drag our clubs out of enforced hibernation, think about what you would like from your golf game when we do get the green light.
Do yourself a favour and ask what is wrong with your shots. Are they finishing left or right of your intended target? Are they finishing short or are you hitting the ball too far? (rhetorical question).
Stop asking what is wrong with your swing. If you are asking that question, you are assuming there is something fundamentally flawed with it. That may or not be the case but trust me, if coaching golf for over three decades has taught me anything, it is that there is not one way to swing the golf club and create the shots you desire. We are all different and should be proud of who we are. Golf swings are like fingerprints, unique. Embrace that.
My advice would be that if you do want to play better golf and have more fun along the way, from a plan based on facts not opinions. Seek out a coach you trust to join you on your journey. Someone who will help guide to guide you along the way.
Someone who will not only ask better questions but encourage you to do the same.
As Graeme McDowell once told his performance coach Karl Morris, my trusted friend and co-author of The Lost Art Of Putting and The Lost Art Of Playing Golf, “Questions are indeed the answer.”
In short, ask better questions and you will come up with better answers.
Until next time, take care and when we as golfers around the world do get back out playing and competing on a regular basis, be prepared to ask better questions.
Doing so might just liberate you from the maelstrom of confusing and conflicting technical information that could well be hindering your progress and enjoyment.
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