A Lesson Learned: Many great - and different - swing philosophies out there.

By Todd D. Anderson, PGA
Published on

This past week's Deutsche Bank Championship was a clinic in great golf. Big names such as Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson and Luke Donald were among the leaders all week - as were up and comers Chez Reavie, Jason Day and now champion Webb Simpson.

It tells me that the depth of talent on the PGA Tour is amazing. And it also affirms to me one of the ideas on golf instruction that I'm most passionate about.

There's so much talk about the golf swing today - with Tiger Woods undergoing this third swing reconstruction - and many other top players talking about swing mechanics.

Of course, I agree that proper mechanics are essential for a consistent and effective golf swing. That's what employs us teaching professionals - the ability to help a student create and repeat those mechanics. But where I vigorously disagree with some instructors is that there is one "proper" or "correct" golf swing.

This has always been a problem when I see certain books, articles or videos. It's absolutely ok to suggest a way that will work. But no instructor should teach that there's only ONE way to make it work.

For example, let's take one of golf's most misunderstood and misapplied maxims.

How often do we hear "keep your head down" in golf? How many golf teachers still say that to their students?

Do we not watch our putts go in the hole, the basketball go through the basket, the lure fly into the lake? Then why do we tell our begging golfers to keep their heads down?

This goes along with a swing philosophy that I believe needs to be taught more to amateurs. This idea is the concept of an early head release on the golf downswing. Is it a coincidence that some of the most successful golfers of all time have embraced this 'move?' Visualize David Duval, Annika Sorenstam, Darren Clarke, Y.E Yang, Jim Furyk and many others that have embraced this concept of a forward movement of the head.

I am a firm believer in an early eye and chin release on the downswing. By releasing with your head and eyes forward, it allows for a full release of the right side through the golf swing, full weight transfer and gives the true feeling of a body driven swing.

This move, in turn, helps create solid contact and greater compression of the golf ball. This early head release allows your hands to remain passive and gives your golf swing more rhythm.

Most amateurs have a hard time trying to feel compression of the golf ball and when I teach this method to my students, it truly helps them become better ball strikers.

Will this move help every golfer? No. Will it help many? Absolutely.

Golf is an ever morphing game, from changing philosophies of the swing to the constant changing of clubs by professionals. Just look at Phil Mickelson making a putter change this week...let's not even talk about how many times Mark Calcavecchia makes a putter change.

Trends are a part of golf. With Webb Simpson's recent two wins, Keegan Bradley's PGA win and Adam Scott's resurgence, you'd better believe there is a run on long putters at your local golf shop. But it's not the only way to putt. I believe Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods and Bobby Jones did pretty well with short putters.

So don't believe every swing tip applies to you. Don't believe every swing technique is right - or wrong - based on your game. Hear the different options, experiment a little and maybe, hopefully, you'll find a teacher who can match you with the technique that will maximize your abilities.

Todd D. Anderson, PGA, is the Director of Golf at Shawnee Country Club in Topeka, KS. Anderson has been a PGA member for 16 years and is an accomplished player and golf operations manager.  

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