Since golf began there have been people claiming to be able to improve the golf swing for any class of player.
As far back as the 1890s, golfers could learn how to play better through instructions in various magazines or from golf professionals, mostly Scottish.
Soon there would begin the unending stream of instructional books (and now videos) and gadgets to teach one the proper, grip, stance, angle of attack, posture, etc.
Decades ago, it reached the ludicrous level. One need only to watch the movie Tin Cup and the scene where Roy McAvoy is covered in self-help devices, including a whiffle golf ball that hangs from his visor to understand how far it has gone. Type “golf lessons” into Youtube and, according to the website, there are “about 558,000 results.”
The best lessons, though, are the simplest. Not every supposed simple lesson, however, is a good one. “You’re moving your head,” is one of the most obvious egregious “basic” tips anyone can give. Head movement is the result of a flaw, a symptom, not the flaw, the ailment. It’s along the same lines as asking somebody what’s wrong and them answering, “I’m bleeding,” when the correct answer is, in fact, “I’ve been hit in the head with a meteorite.” Your head is moving because of something wrong in the swing.
Simple, correct, golf lessons, such as alignment and ball position, are priceless. As a caddy, it find it amazing how many avid players set up far off their intended target line.
This summer, I was witness to the greatest golf lesson I’ve ever seen and one of the simplest.
While caddying at Machrihanish Dunes in Scotland, I was called upon to course guide, that is accompany, the foursome of Ian Woosnam, David (D.J.) Russell and two of Woosnam’s life long friends, non-professional golfers.
Woosnam was once ranked No.1 in the world and has a Masters title under his belt. He played on and captained winning Ryder Cup teams, representing Wales.
Russell is a long-time friend and was an assistant captain when Woosnam lead the GB&I Ryder Cup team. Both play regularly on the European Senior Tour.
The two are partners in RAW Golf Course Design.
It was a lighthearted round with a big-time match for small-time money.
Somewhere along the back nine, Woosnam’s swing faltered and when he hit a push-fade on the 15th hole, Russell quietly commented to Woosnam what he thought was the problem and made a quick suggestion.
Woosnam reteed, and under Russell’s watchful eye, launched his best drive of the day, a bomb right at his target.
I had to know what Russell said since the advice seemed to be so quick, yet so effective.
“I told him to wait,” Russell said as we headed down the fairway.
It seems that Woosnam’s arms and body were out of synch.
“I told him to think, “wait” at the top of his back swing.”
That’s what he did.
Now that’s simple.
I tried it on the practice ground and then brought it to the course with amazing results, even when chipping and pitching. If I can listen to myself, and heed the words of Russell, there is a noticeable difference in the quality of contact.
Like any piece of swing advice it is not for everyone. For me, however, it is one I will never forget, it’s that simple.