This past Saturday, I witnessed the darnedest thing: My wife has decided that her second outing on a golf course should be in a fund raiser tournament at Hartefeld. My daughter insisted on giving my wife a golf lesson. Goodness knows she wouldn’t listen to her husband! The lesson was a good one! The entire game except putting in a day! My wife and I were stunned. The little pro started with the Iron Triangle--also known as Chip Motion, where the arms remain quite straight, but not rigidly so, throughout the motion. She explained that this motion was only appropriate for shots near the green. She demonstrated the motion correctly without a ball. Then she did it correctly with a ball. Marc Levine, the Head Pro at White Manor, stood there, mouth agape, listening to this little kid serving up quality golf instruction like a pro. He stopped his lesson and listened in as Mary moved on to shots from farther away from the green. I continued to keep my mouth shut, (if you know me, you know how hard that was for me!).
As they moved farther from the green, beyond the short distances that the Iron Triangle Chip is meant to handle, Mary explained that Mom would have to bend the right side of The Triangle (the right arm) forming an “L” to add some speed to the swing. We call that Pitch Motion. Make an “L” on the backswing, then return to the Triangle at impact and finish with the Triangle still intact. We also call it, “L to Straight,” meaning that the L ends in a straight line at the followthrough. Once again, Mary demonstrated the motion like a pro. Mom followed along in awe of her 8 year old.
When it came time for the full swing, Mary once again demonstrated the swing admirably, although she mis-hit a couple of shots while doing so. Unfazed, she demonstrated again and smacked the ball down the fairway, holding her finish just like a pro on TV.
The point is that, whether you are a junior golfer, an amateur or a pro, you MUST have a clear picture in your head of what you are trying to do before you will be able to do it. Give your brain time to organize your motion so that you match the picture and don’t be in such a rush to hit great shots. “Just do it right, darn it!” The results will come with a little more precision in the motion. Unfortunately, most golfers never do learn a sound motion because they tend to approach the game with an attitude that is more like, “forget the swing, I want the results!” I see this flawed approach all the time, and I want to yell, “haven’t you ever seen a good player swing a club!!!”
I believe that the primary reason why kids learn with so much more ease than adults is that they mimic like superstars. I do NOT think our adult “smartitude” trying to cognitively understand the mechanics of “the swing” helps us learn much at all. Let’s all try it the easy way. What do you say?
Hit ‘em like a kid!
John Dunigan is a PGA Master Professional and Director of Instruction at White Manor Country Club in Malvern where he runs the John Dunigan Golf Academy. An expert in Junior Golf, John received the prestigious PGA Philadelphia Section Junior Golf Leader Award for 2012, and was named Philadelphia Section Teacher of the Year in 2008.He lives in Kennett Square.