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Are we creating Golfers or Athletes?

The Golfing Machine - Thursday, August 02, 2012

When we were young many of us played various sports including football, baseball and basketball. Some of us participated in track and field – running races, pole vaulting or high jumping among other activities. Because we had a broad base of athletic interests we were given the moniker ATHLETES. This moniker meant that we participated in many sports but we did not limit our interest to just one. Athlete is defined from the World English Dictionary (on line).

Athlete: (please notice the plurals used below).

  1. A person trained to compete in sports or exercises involving physical strength, speed or endurance
  2. A person who has a natural aptitude for physical activities
  3. Chiefly (Brit) a competitor in track and field events.

Some of us, however, preferred one sport and enjoyed it more than the others. We became GOLFERS.

Now to my dismay – during a golf lesson - throwing a disc, jumping rope, tossing a medicine ball and running around a golf course are considered athletic endeavors and therefore, golf professionals are creating athletes, but not golfers. The workout craze on Tour has created the perception that stronger is better; is there any statistical evidence or studies that state a high correlation between physical strength and increased golf performance, as in lower scores? Let me pose this question: Do you think other coaches, for example: baseball, basketball, track and soccer coaches have their participants play golf to get ready for their competitions? I doubt it. Why? Because they know the skills are not the same, and each of these sports require individualized competencies to become an efficient performer.

Golf instructors have lost their way in the muck created with the hope of producing more powerful athletes. This belief is forcing golf professionals to push their students toward exercising. My question is how many golf professionals from the 30K in the PGA take time to exercise? During a seminar I gave a few years ago I asked the 40 or so PGA Professionals in the room how many hit balls on a regular basis, which we defined as three or more times a week or more. The answer was one! All of these Golf Professionals had at their disposal a driving range, golf course and putting green within yards of their offices, yet they could not muster the motivation to practice. Now, these same professionals are demanding their students exercise! How is a student who has two children, a job, a mortgage, a wife, etc. making time for exercise? I guess he could give up his golf lesson time and focus on his exercise routine.

Golf professionals look at golf egocentrically, meaning that it is the only thing in life worthwhile. That thought is, however, far from the truth, most people must decide on how to juggle their limited free time between many competing factions.

I believe that we should educate GOLFERS who understand and master their golf motions from basic chipping to pitching and full motions. We should be educating GOLFERS who are competent in getting themselves around a golf course in the fewest strokes possible.

Golf is unique, it has different movements and requires different skill sets in order to become competent. These skills, which are mandatory for the trip from tee to green, are not transferable to other sports. Golf skills are as different from other sports as the skills of soccer goalie are from a catcher in baseball.

Golf is a sport of a lifetime; if you want to increase your competence and skill in golf over your lifespan, please see an Authorized Instructor of The Golfing Machine, who will direct you how to become more competent and a better golfer over time.