Golf Swings Waiting to be Born
by Michael Hebron -- PGA master Professional, CI

The "how-to" culture came first, and this culture undermines a golfer's natural
skills of self-discovery and problem solving.

The process of expanding information and personal knowledge is the theme
of this article.  Learning something new normally requires the death of
worn-out knowledge.  To expand our vision, we must give up a narrower
vision, and risk moving into the unknown of new experiences and the insides
they provide.

"Growing up, I was always good at other sports.  I do not understand why my
golf game is not improving ."  This is a statement every golf instructor has
heard from more than one student.  We could say that every golfer who is not
happy with his progress has a golf swing waiting to be born.

It has always been interesting to me that when most people are throwing a
ball, shooting and basketball, swinging pa bat, or bowling, they use body
motions they often look more orthodox than one they are swinging a golf club.

When asking questions about the lack of progress with golf, we don't overlook
the fact that people who play other sports receive less "how-to" information
than the information many golfers receive about golf when they want to
improve.  Golf is not only overrun with lots of  "how-to" advice from
well-meaning friends, but all of this advice is different, with little common
ground.  When people are play and learning other sports, there is always
more use of self-discovery skills then  "how-to" information, and this may be
one reason why people are not learning to improve their golf.

Mind-Sets and Cultures

Often, when it comes to golf instruction, the "mind-sets" often used is "take
charge of me, and tell me what to do," with the culture of instruction
information founded mostly ongiving golfers "how-to" directions.

What came first common: a golfer's mindset, or golf instructions "how-to"
advice?  For me, the answer is clearly the "how-to" culture came first, and this
culture determines a golfer's natural skills of self-discovery and problem
solving.  Playing good golf is solving problems as we adapt our game and
swing g for the shot at hand.  Someone else's "how-to" advice will never be as
useful as a golfer's own self-discovery skills when it comes to solving
problems for the shot at hand.  

Golfers who broaden their core knowledge of golf's environment, use
self-discovery and avoid how-to" directions, can improve and to find that golf
swing waiting to be born.  Keep in mind it takes some knowledge to gain more
knowledge, and many golfers do not have the core knowledge needed to
make progress.  Core knowledge can improve our learning potential, which
then improves our performance potential.

Golf's Best Mentor: The Game

It has been said that learning to play good golf can be difficult, with people
often using articles as teachers.  I would suggest toxic, articles, and the game
itself be seen as mentors.  Good mentors people learn very little directly.  
Mentors see themselves more as guides, helping to empower people.  
Hopefully, you will discover what every good golfer has learned: the best
mentor is the course and the game, and the best teacher is a golfer's own
self-discovery skills.  For 300 years, golfers who have been open to learning
from the shot at hand ("how-to" directions) have been guided in the direction
of long-term learning.

Our ability to give up using "how-to" advice, (which I recommend) may be
easier said been done, but everyone who does will be rewarded.  Any golfer
who is not happy with his rate of progress should change how he has been
trying to improve.  There is much to be gained, i.e., your golf swings that is
waiting to be born!

The game and shot at hand should be seen as every golfers primary mentor.  
Not unlike how snow, rain, and the sun suggest we use snow tires, rain coats,
and sunblock, it's always golf's environment that suggest the most workable
approach for the shot at hand.  Nature's truths know no other possibilities.  

The changes golfers should make to see progress may not be easy for
everyone, but they are obvious and non-negotiable.  The golf club, ball, field
of play, and the shot at hand (Golf's Physical Basics@) all dictate the
blueprint for the most workable swing for the solution.

Here are a few examples of how the shot at hand, and how the shaft,
clubhead, and clubface influence ball flight based on their location and
alignment :

Always be aware of the following when playing from non-level lies:

Balls hit from lies above the feet -- normally go left.

Balls hit from lies below the feet -- normally go right.

Balls hit from uphill lies -- normally go higher and shorter.

Balls hit from downhill lies -- normally go lower than longer.

Be Aware! Golf clubs have three elements: the shaft, the clubface, and the
clubhead.  Just as learning to drive a car is no more or no less than learning
to influence a steering wheel, break peddle, and the gas peddle: learning to
play good golf requires learning to influence the golf club's shaft, head, and

Different Ball Flight

Normally the ball starts right when the shaft to swings back to impact too low,
and starts left when the shaft swings back to impact too high.

Normally the ball starts left, and spins right when the club head returns to
impact from outside the target line, with the club face angle facing to the right
(open) .

Normally the ball starts right and spins more right when the clubhead returns
to impact too much from inside the target line with the club face angle facing
right (open).

Normally the ball starts left, and spins more left when the clubhead returns to
impact from outside the target line with a club face angle  facing left (closed).

Normally the best starts right, and spins left when the club head returns to
impact from inside the target line with the club face angle facing left (closed).

When golfers become more aware of where they want the shaft, club head,
and club face to be located and aligned through impact (for the shot at hand),
real progress and long-term learning follow.  I suggest focusing own what to
do, and avoid any advice from someone else about "how-to" do it.

For most shots in golf, the clubhead should be behind your hands, with the
shaft traveling to impact on the lie angle it occupied at address.  The clubface
is normally facing in the direction where the player wants the ball to start its
flight as the ball is leaving the clubface. When training your swing, always be
aware of where the shaft, head, and clubface are aligned through impact, and
avoid "how-to"direction.

Target, Not Just a Life Preserver

Any form of golf instructions should be an anchor, not just a life preserver to
be used in an emergency.  The more things change, the more they stay the
same, seems to be an accurate description of what happens to many golfers
who go from golf tip to golf tip.  When golfers are going from tip to tip, book to
book, video to video, it should be said they are fishing for ideas in an ocean
of "how-to" information that can make anyone feel the golf gods have gone

Golfers who want to improve must decide if they want to be a knower or a
learner.  Learning, at times, requires putting aside what we are ready to leave
(i.e., "how-to" directions).  The principles of Motion and Force are founded on
external natural laws, but keep in mind that their application is influenced by
our internal emotions, insights, and intuitions (beliefs).  Any world-class golfer
is an artist applying engineering principle.  While golfers must always find a
way to personalize the feel or art of efficient motion, the laws and principles of
motion are also needed to ensure precision during the swing.

All learning requires feedback, and studies have shown that people are more
open to feedback when the feedback comes from self-observation than when
the information is coming from other sources.  Again, avoid "how-to"
directions, and stay aware of where the shaft, clubhead, and face are located
through impact for the shot at hand.  It's always more useful to hit shots you
don't care for and understand the cause, then to be hitting greens and
fairways and not know what caused the results!

2001, 2002 Copyright Michael Hebron, all rights reserved, reprinted @ from Executive Golf Magazine.