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We Can Learn from Rory's Admission; Make Sure The Changes You’re Making Fit Your Golf Game

By Keith Stewart, PGA
Published on

Some of the most valuable lessons we learn from the best players in the game aren’t always while they are playing. Take, for example, the comments by Rory McIlroy on Friday after his second round of the Players Championship. Unfortunately for Rory, the trend is not his friend. For months now he has not been playing the type of golf we have grown accustomed to.
Though his critics may say he hasn’t won a major championship in seven years, he put together a career year in 2019. He played in 27 events between the PGA and European PGA Tours, made the cut in 26, had 15 top tens and two wins. After all of that success, he decided to make a change. 
In his very personal remarks Friday after the second round of The PLAYERS Championship, he mentioned that in the fall of 2020 he started chasing more speed. Yes, Rory wanted more speed. 
He is currently second on the PGA Tour in driving distance at 319.8 yards and third in strokes gained off the tee. So why would Rory be chasing more speed? How can those watching him put this into perspective? The insights he relayed on Friday afternoon were very telling. He started chasing more speed because of Bryson DeChambeau’s performance at the US Open. It was his ability to hit positive shots from the rough; US Open style rough. 
Truth be told, he’s right. Although the audience thinks Bryson won the Arnold Palmer Invitational last week because of his prodigious drives, it was the Saturday evening approach shot on 18 and Sunday’s approach on 15 from the heavy rough that set him apart from the field. It’s obvious to Rory that’s an advantage and one worth chasing. Now his intimate commentary is starting to make some serious sense. 
To date, his pursuit of this new-found power has been unsuccessful. At surface level, if Rory is already able to generate that much speed, what’s a little more? 
Here’s the lesson: What works for one golfer doesn’t work for all.
How many times have you tried to copy your fellow golfers? I’m not just talking about the men and women on television. How about your playing partners? Success has a very powerful attraction, and it’s no more potent than on the course. 
It’s important to note Rory is a brilliant golfer, but it seems by his comments even he found himself in this age-old trap. Why didn’t this sudden “Bryson change” work for him? Did you know that Rory is 5’10” tall and weighs 160 pounds and Bryson is 6’1” tall and weighs 235 pounds? Rory is a world-class talent, but not even an athlete of his measure can make up 75 pounds in performance and stability. As you read this article, take note of this important point and learn from the multiple major champion McIlroy. 
It’s okay to try and emulate other successful golfers, but pay attention to their body type. Make sure your strength and flexibility will allow you to make similar moves. Of course, age is probably one of the most important factors to consider under these decision-making circumstances. PGA Coaches assess golfer’s abilities every day. Their capacity to offer successful strategies cannot be underestimated.  
Rory McIlroy has a very successful coach, and they will no doubt turn this trend around. In the meantime, let’s all learn from his honesty. 
Golf is hard, let’s not make it harder on ourselves by trying to do things we just cannot do, especially alone.