The Curious Argument of Fundamentals


It’s Spring, so every golfer has great intentions to make this trip around the sun the one where golf becomes fun and yields excellent results. That does sound splendid.

It’s also the month where I receive a lot of criticism because the critic “needs to keep it simple, they don’t need technology.” “I just want to swing the club naturally.” “All I need is a good review of the fundmentals.” It’s the month that I drink the most, because all this drives me insane.

If you’ll allow me, here are my thoughts (some of you got pissed off at the last paragraph and departed, no problem, there’s quite a crowd annually that will join you):

  1. There are a trillion different ways to swing “naturally.” Naturally depends upon you. Height, weight, girth, athletic ability, arm length, leg length, previous injury, previous instruction, previous experience – they all affect how you swing the club. You need to swing like YOU.
  2. The accepted fundamentals of golf are tirelessly preached as grip, alignment, stance and posture. GASP. You’ve heard it a million times. You’ve heard it this week. If this were the case, why are there thousands of combinations of grips, alignments, stances and postures on every tour? Not every club champion swings the same, just as loads of 100 shooters don’t swing similarly. Lee Trevino, with little obvious athletic ability, won 6 majors by setting up near third base, swinging toward first base, and drilling it to centre field. Paul Azinger has a grip so strong you would wonder how he got it airborne. Nancy Lopez had a backswing so slow you couldn’t replicate it, and Nick Price swung back so fast you’d think he was double parked. Michelle Wie’s feet are three feet apart at address. Jack Nicklaus putted crouched over and used his right hand to power the ball into the hole (and what a loser he turned out to be – 19 second place finishes in majors? Please.) And look up some footage of Moe Norman sometime. First off, it’s well worth it for the commentary, but he’s also STRIPING IT every shot with a wide stance, palm grip and ridiculous looking backswing and follow through. PEOPLE, THERE ARE NO UNIVERSAL FUNDAMENTALS. Everyone has their own set of fundamentals, and if you ignore them and adhere to some biblical rant that has seen decades of people shooting 100, you need to wake up and smell the french press.
  3. As a golfer you need:
    • Enough distance to have a mid iron or less into par 4’s in normal conditions. If this isn’t the case, you need to improve your tee shots or walk to the next tee deck. And don’t you DARE email me with some dumbass “drive for show, putt for dough” advice. Ask yourself if you’d rather have Rory McIlroy hit tee shots for you, or have him handle your putting. Odds are you’d benefit from being closer to the green after one shot.
    • Enough control of your shot shape that you are able to minimize opportunities for penalty strokes (these include punch out shots – a stroke is a stroke).
    • An address position that is comfortable, that minimizes the chance of injury, and suits your particular ball flight.
    • A target that suits your particular ball flight.
    • A short game that minimizes two chips/pitches/sand shots and 3 putts.
    • Confidence in your putting game to the extent that your 50/50 line (the distance where you begin to miss half your putts – for the PGA Tour this is over 8 feet) IS 6 FEET MINIMUM. To do this you need to read greens better, and employ speed better (BEWARE – SHAMELESS AIMPOINT PLUG HERE:
  4. The “keep it simple stupid” principle is very valid. BUT, using technology facilitates simplicity and feel. Without some quantitative analysis of what is going on, without understanding exactly why the golf ball behaved in the manner it did, you will be a Simpleton. The rather nebulous “feel” is enhanced, quickly by assessment. I do not discuss many x’s and o’s with my players, we discuss feel, address position, ball position and targeting. But to discuss that without any assessment is just guessing. YOU MUST EDUCATE YOURSELF ABOUT YOUR SWING before you can “be simple.” And by the way, I assume you’re not a moron – why are some of you constantly raging about “dumbing it down?” You’re better than that.
  5. Finally, can you just please watch golf on tv as you would an action or comedy show? 95% of the “analysis” is not even remotely accurate, nor is it transferable to your game. They use 2-D video, at a hundred different angles, in lame attempts to keep chatter going throughout a 4 hour broadcast. It’s a tough job, man. But it’s not remotely close to educational. It’s akin to learning surgery from Grey’s Anatomy or real estate from Phil Dunphy and Modern Family. Enjoy the broadcast – they are best golfers in the solar system, but it ain’t gonna teach you nuthin’.

In closing, please educate yourself. I have a huge library of golf books, videos, and textbooks. I enjoyed reading them. But there’s virtually none of it that has assisted my golf game. Everything from Ben Hogan’s Five Fundamentals of Modern Golf (and it was written in the ’50’s by the way) to the latest Leadbetter A-Swing offering has found it’s way into my office. All well-written, all interesting. But just as size 32 waist trousers are a wee snug at this point, the “fundamentals” written and discussed ad nauseam in the last 75 years are NOT for everyone.

Thanks for enduring this. Next time I hope to talk about getting the face square at impact. It’s killing your golf game.

As always, if you have any questions or comments, drop me a line.





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