“The list is endless!” says Jason Birnbaum.
As the Director of Instruction at Manhattan Woods Golf Club in West Nyack, N.Y., Birnbaum has heard it all, especially when it comes to swing instruction.
Whether it’s a professional player looking for a quick tune up, or a recreational golfer trying to lower their handicap, there are many misconceptions about the golf swing and those that teach it. With the help of Birnbaum’s knowledge of the subject, here are five common myths about golf instruction.
1. If you’re a good athlete you can easily learn to be a good golfer
Golf is not an easy game—it takes a lot of time and even more patience. Of course, there’s the exception to the rule—the Steph Currys or Tony Romos of the world—but for the most part good or even great athletes are just like you and me when it comes to golf. Despite a ton of confidence, they struggle. While their athleticism and strength may allow them to drive it 300-plus yards once in a while, they routinely find the same trouble we all do. Ever see the short game of a 300-pound NFL lineman? And when it comes to mastering a technically sound swing, the frame of superstar athletes from other sports often doesn’t fit. Case in point: Charles Barkley.
2. “Keep your eye on the ball” will always lead to solid contact
It’s a common phrase in sports, and though it can help, keeping your eye on the ball is really step one in the golf swing process. Considering the ball is stationary before contact, this really isn’t a complicated request, and instructors admit there is a bit of a misconception. A golfer who makes a poor backswing, moves their head, and fails to rotate yet keeps a solid stare on the golf ball is still in big trouble. In reality, “Keep your eye on the ball” works much better in baseball than it does golf.
3. Practice makes perfect
Yes, in order to elevate your golf game, you must work at it. But instructors are quick to stress that bad practice is often worse than no practice. Practicing with a plan and a purpose is how you can lower your scores. There are thousands of golfers who hit their local range six days a week, banging hundreds of balls until their hands are sore, and still see little if any improvement. Knowing specifics about what to work on and how to implement it into your game is how a recreational golfer can turn trials on the range into consistency on the course.
4. Good golfers would make good coaches
I’ve witnessed this myth firsthand. Ask a PGA Tour player how they hit the ball 300 yards or the best way to hit a 5-iron stinger and you’ll get an array of different responses, with some simply being “I’m not sure, I just do it.” Many players can execute high-level golf shots—but few can appropriately break down their golf swing to their playing partners. Being able to speak to different types of players, ages, and abilities and communicate instruction is even more difficult. The best instructors in the world are able to blend it all together.
5. I shouldn’t get good clubs until I have a good swing
This may have been a good idea back in the 1980s and ’90s, but these days with the revolutionary technology available to recreational golfers it’s as big of a myth as there is. If a golfer is serious about game improvement, then they have to explore getting a good set of golf clubs, and consider a personal fitting for those clubs. Each swing is unique. Get the best clubs that fit your game. If you wanted to run faster, would you wait to buy sneakers that would help you fly? If you wanted to learn how to drive a race car at warp speed, would you practice driving a Honda Civic? Put yourself in the best situation to succeed and get the right tools.
What are some other myths about golf instruction? Give us your best in the comment section.