Bubba Watson’s win at the Masters was a victory for the homemade swings of self-taught players like Watson and Tommy Gainey over the teacher-made swings of players like Adam Scott and Charles Howell III.
These are actually two extreme positions. Bubba might say he has no need for a teacher, but virtually every great player had one. On the other hand, some teachers are so mechanical that they turn the player into a robot. The ideal remains the one outlined by John Duncan Dunn in his 1931 book, Natural Golf: “All cures are 95 percent natural and 5 percent golf instructor, but in most cases the 95 percent will not function without the 5 percent.” Yes, you need a teacher, but you also need to keep the individual personality of your swing. If your teacher has one cure-all for all of his or her students, start looking for a new teacher.
The success that Bubba has enjoyed on Tour is a good reminder that the essence of golf is making good shots, not making beautiful swings. Before technology came to golf instruction, there were a lot of funny swings producing great shots. Now we have great swings producing a lot of funny shots.
You don’t need a $25,000 machine to tell you when you hit a good shot. When I grew up, we didn’t have practice facilities or driving ranges. Your most prized possession was your shag bag, and you took it to a field and picked a target. You had two goals: (1) Don’t lose any balls; (2) Hit close to your target so you didn’t have to chase balls all over the place. The demise of the shag bag was a real loss, because today people practice making swings, not making shots.
You don’t need a beautiful golf swing. You need a consistent golf swing that you can rely on to produce good shots. If you’re trying to make swings against someone
who’s trying to make shots, you’ll lose. Just ask Bubba.