His message was directed to the club pros who do a ton to shape the way golf is played through the lessons they give and the clinics and golf camps they organize for players at all levels. Everyday golfers should take the message to heart too, though, because it corrects one of the great misconceptions of the game, that you should strive for a picture-perfect swing whether your body is capable of producing one or not. The game can not only be enjoyed without one, Phillips said, but every golfer will have a better time--and actually play better, too--if they stop trying to achieve some sort of ideal swing.
"There are millions of ways to swing a club," Phillips said, "but there is only one efficient way for each golfer. It's based on their individual body."What is an "efficient" swing?
Phillips says that's determined by the answers to two questions:
"Can you hit the ball where you want it to go?"Hitting where you want it to go doesn't necessarily mean bombing 300 yard drives off every tee (as much fun as that might be). Knowing--really knowing--you are capable of getting the ball on the green 150 yard away over water will probably mean a lot more to your score. More importantly, your body is probably capable of performing the second shot consistently whereas the only time you and I are going to hit a 300 yard drive is when we're hitting down-wind, down-hill, on a concrete fairway.
"Are you in pain when you walk off the course?"
The point of Phillips presentation was to encourage the teaching pros to start their lessons with every student by conducting an assessment of the player's physical abilities. He outlined a brief series of tests (you can find them at mytpi.com) that reveal what the golfer can or can't do. Rather than try to force the golfer's body to conform to an ideal swing, he recommends tweaking the swing to fit the body.
The Titleist Performance Institute is one of the most advanced learning facilities in golf. They look at everything that makes people better at the game including equipment, biomechanics, diet, and even optometry. In addition to an advisory board of specialists in all those fields, they base their approach on a research database of 40,000 golfers around the world. They offer programs for golfers at all levels and certify golf, medical, and fitness professionals.
The best way to start shaping your swing to your body? By taking a lesson from a PGA Professional.
Dave Donelson, author of Heart of Diamonds a romantic thriller about blood diamonds in the Congo.