Why golf swing changes are hard

by: B. J. Hathaway

photo by: Augusta Golf Instruction


Sometimes people think that because I’m a swing coach that my swing is probably perfect and because of the knowledge that I’ve gathered from years of study that making a swing change is like waving a magic wand. The truth is, even though I’m surrounded by golf balls, my schedule of coaching, writing and business development may leave me with only 60-90 minutes per week to practice. So even though I have the knowledge, does that give me the ability to instantly make a swing change?

Well, yes and no.

No, in that I do not have any special “powers” over nature to snap my fingers and instantly possess a perfect swing. Even after many years of coaching, studying, practicing and training the “now” button still eludes me. The yes part of my answer is not based on talent but more on knowledge and thinking skills.

Let’s look at an example that may clarify what I mean. Today after coaching I actually had about 30 minutes of free time, and mental energy, to practice. I grabbed a medium bucket and an 8 iron and went to the practice tee with one thought: my transition needs to improve. I had a mild awareness of grip, stance, posture and ball position because these are habits, but otherwise no other thought than making one key movement to start my downswing.  Yes I did pay attention to ball flight because that’s normal behavior, but at no point was I “worried” about where the ball was going, nor how far. Every single swing was based on making that move to start the downswing regardless of the shot quality, in other words, I put all of my thoughts into one compartment and kept them there the entire session.

Now let’s look at how the average golfer usually practices. Grab a wedge with a swing thought and hit a few balls. Ball doesn’t flight straight or far enough so change clubs and swing thought. Ball goes straighter but not far enough so change swing thought. Ball goes further but not straighter so change clubs and swing thought. Repeat cycle until balls are gone and add frustration. What has Mr. or Mrs Golfer learned in their practice time…not much except swing changes are hard.

The next time you have a lesson, or want to make a swing change, find out firstly what it is that you need to change. Then find out what that change looks and feels like in your eyes and body and take one club and do the work. If you stay with the process and keep your thoughts compartmentalized, regardless of the ball flight temporarily, then your mind and body can learn the look and feel of how to make that swing change.

So yes, making a swing change is difficult if we do not learn how to focus on accomplishing a goal, learn to make one change and own it and you’ll rarely have to go back and learn it again.