All golfers have at some point in time been seduced by the infomercial, new book, and DVD series that claims to have once and for all figured out this game of golf. This one individual has unlocked the mystery that nobody else has since a few Scots started whacking a ball around their fields. Have you ever noticed that this so called secret always comes in one of two packages. The first one is what I like to call the Curley approach. Jack Palance’s character of Curley in City Slickers enlightens Billy Crystal that the secret to life is this “One Thing”. So to, do the late night pitch men and infomercial instructors. If you can master this one thing, you’ll never hit a bad shot again. It sounds silly doesn’t it, but the pitch is so simple you think, “I can’t afford not to try this”. And Boom, you now own some piece of plastic your supposed to swing for an hour a day and all you swing problems will go away. After that doesn’t work you stick it in the closest with your ShamWow, Snuggie blanket, & Shakeweight. Why don’t these products and methods work? Because the golf swing is more complicated than the “One Thing”. So I guess that means that according to wise old Curley, golf is more complicated than life itself, and that’s where the second type of “revolutionary golf instruction” comes in.
The other package used to sell us on helping our game is the Einstein approach. This method aims to tell you how feeble your golf mind is and that the game is so complex that no mere mortal brain could understand it, let alone actually play the game effectively. These pitch men claim that without access to their vast expertise, you will never find any success in golf. This approach has brought us 20 session private lesson series, 500 page books on putting, and DVD Series with more discs than a Ken Burns documentary. The innovator and possibly still king of this methodology is Homer Kelley’s The Golfing Machine, a book so intricate it comes with instructions on how to read the book itself. Golf Professionals tend to like this approach because we can make money off of our infinite wisdom of the mystical golf swing. Much like the Curley sales pitch, the Einstein marketing makes since when you’re watching that infomercial at 2:30 in the morning re-living that day’s bad shots. But alas, you never finish the 1000 page dissertation by the self-appointed golf PhD, and it goes in that same closest with the gizmo that seemed so simple it couldn’t fail.
So what’s the answer? Like so much in life, the answer lies in between the extremes. Is that “One Thing” out there? Nope, if it was, someone would have found it. After all, golfers are pretty good at searching, just ask your buddy that finds a 20 year old Top Flite in 10 acres of dense woods. As for the Einstein theory, we’ve all known someone who’s never had a lesson or read any books and articles but could still hit the ball a mile and beat us on any day. So here is the answer, the secret to golf………….
Take a lesson or three from a qualified instructor, and then practice and practice what they teach you. Think of shooting free throws. Someone shows you the basics, and then you shoot hundreds of shots. You don’t make them all, but with some basic instruction and plenty of practice you start to make a lot more than you miss. There it is, the secret to golf. Not singular but not infinite. Kind of makes for a bad infomercial though, I guess we’ll need some fancy graphics and some price drops. While we work on that, just go out and play and have fun, and if you need help at 2:30am, email (don’t call) your friendly local golf pro for a lesson.