Has instruction gone full circle? As golf
professionals, our golf swing instruction
paradigm is often tested, and very much so of late.
Some instructors whom I happen to know personally
have taken a leap (I’m not so sure it was a leap
of faith but rather blind faith) towards a complete
paradigm shift. We can blame multi-media and the
information age, we can blame society’s need for
instant gratification, or we can blame ourselves.
Ourselves? Yes, ourselves, the community of golf
teaching professionals for succumbing to what some
objective viewers see as the outrageous circus that is
Harry Vardon and Bobby Jones were not immune
to offering sage advice for the rank amateur. Jones’
formal education facilitated his ability to translate a
physical act into words. No one has written more on
the subject, and his works are a gift to this day. The
great Percy Boomer from Scotland rewarded us with
an insight into playing the game and how a club
should be swung that was well ahead of its time.
It was Ben Hogan, however, that provided the first
“user’s guide,” if you will, the unsurpassable “bible”
titled Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of
Golf for countless instructors and golfers worldwide.
Then it happened.
Jack Nicklaus came on the scene. The overweight,
brush-cut, elbow-flying, heel-lifting, vertical-swinging
bomber who not only had the gall to lay
claim to Arnie’s throne, but with time and victories
mounting, he changed the paradigm for how a club
should be swung. What happened to Hogan’s Five
Fundamentals? You know – the elbows tucked, flat
swing, feet grounded, game of balance and symmetry
with a combination of power and paramount
precision. Hogan was the old guard; Nicklaus was
the new world order. As the 1960s brought in change,
so did Jack to the game of golf. There was a new
way to play and a new way to swing.
shift in golf instruction had occurred, and Nicklaus
created a generation of slicers.
This paradigm shift left the game in a state of
flux. There was Hogan’s flatter or Nicklaus’ upright
technique. Oh no! But now the word “technique” was out, and even worse came – the “method.”
Hello world! “My name is Jimmy Ballard and
everything you know about the golf swing is wrong.”
Here we go! The changing paradigm for golfers
worldwide is in full-blown operation or perhaps
chaos. “But wait, maybe Ballard is right! Ballard is
coaching Jack’s successor Hal Sutton and look at
Curtis Strange…he’s lighting it up!”
Loading up and moving your center off the ball
during the backswing was the proper way to swing
and all the rage. You had to load up like a pitcher
throwing a baseball. Curtis was winning everything,
including two successive US Opens. Ballard was right.
Of course, how was this possible when employing
Jim McLean’s “the X factor”? Curtis wasn’t playing so
well anymore and Hal Sutton was no Jack Nicklaus.
Nobody can beat Faldo and he was setting his wrists
early via Leadbetter’s instruction. Hmmm!
Fortunately for all of us, Mac O’Grady has
taken the findings of Homer Kelly’s “The Golfing
Machine” to another level with his 168,000 variables
of the golf swing, all of which can be learned at
his academy offering M.O.R.A.D. (Mac O’Grady
Research And Development). Andy Plummer’s and
Mike Bennett’s “Stack & Tilt” method can trace its
origins to M.O.R.A.D. My God, didn’t Vardon swing
Have you gone full circle as both a player and
a teacher? The USGTF offered me the opportunity to
write a monthly article, and it is a request I take
seriously in spite of the sarcastic tone I portray here.
Golf instructors are to offer insight, and in the months
to come I will take you on a journey in time to not
only unravel the so-called “methods” proliferating
our trade today, but unveil how yesterday’s golf
swing is that of today’s.
Is a certified examiner for the USGTF and a top-ranked instructor
• 24-year golf professional
• USGTF Master Teaching
• Class A member Canadian PGA
• Over 25,000 lessons given in
• Director of instruction at Elm Ridge CC,
• Owner Montreal Golf Academy (four locations)
• President/owner Marquis Golf
• Top 50 Canadian teacher (National Post)
• Top 100 WGTF teacher
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