Every year, my three-day Scoring Game Schools and one-day clinics help thousands of dedicated golfers get better at the game they love. Over time this has allowed me to witness a wide variety of swings made by golfers of all different sizes, shapes, appearances and attitudes. These observations, in turn, have helped me develop a way in which you can improve your game simply by watching others.
This idea isn’t based on the technical aspects of your swing. For something along those lines, explore the teachings of Manuel de la Torre, Dr. Jim Suttie or Mike Adams—all well-known for teaching to specific body types with great success. Instead, I’m proposing that you change the way you watch golf in the upcoming 2018-19 season.
I want you to pick out four golfers from the PGA, Champions or LPGA Tours, or low-handicap golfers in your club, or even someone in your regular foursome. I’d like for you to make this foursome your “focus group” and watch how they play the game throughout 2019. Choose wisely; there’s something special about this group. They should all be great players, but they should also look like you. I don’t mean in facial features, hair style or dress appearance. I’m talking about size, stature, body type, weight, metabolism and personality.
What are their golf swing rhythms? Their pre-shot rituals? Their reactions to poorly struck shots and good or bad breaks? How about their practice routines and natural walking rhythms? Do they have any nervous habits? Pay attention to their temperament and personality, too. I want you to find four really good players who build their games from bodies and personalities that are similar to your own.
Let me help here with a few examples: I’m 6’ 5”, and I could never have swung like Ben Hogan or putted like Jack Nicklaus. That would have required me to use a 66-inch shaft in my driver to create a flat swing plane like Hogan’s, and if I had tried to practice putting bent over like Jack, I think my back would have broken. With my build, I should have learned to putt like George Archer, recover from trouble like Phil Mickelson, and swing like Tom Weiskopf—three elitelevel golfers who actually fit my specific body type. Do you see my point?
Now think (honestly) about your body type. Are you tall, fast and nervous, like 6’ 3” Keegan Bradley? Calm like 6’ 2” Marc Leishman? Slow and easy like 6’ 3” Ernie Els?
Perhaps you’re none of those. Maybe you’re more like laid-back, 5’8” Francesco Molinari, or heavyset 5’ 8” Kiradech Aphibarnrat, or the fiercely competitive 5’ 3” Kristie Kerr. Think about your own temperament, then find a player in the professional game who you can model your game after.
What do I mean by watching these players after you find them? Have you ever gone to a PGA Tour or LPGA event and followed a player for four rounds? Watched every mannerism, every warm-up, every preshot waggle, every shot, and their after-swing balance and reaction? Have you ever truly studied how they play the game?
I believe you can learn by watching, and if you watch enough, you may just start to subconsciously emulate the things that great players do in their games.
Don’t try to be something you’re not. Don’t fight nature. You’re not copying, you’re learning. Find your personal focus group, and pay close attention to how they swing, act and react. Over time, try to adopt their methods for your game. If you like it, groove it.