There is perhaps no sport with as many different opinions on how to play it properly as golf. For some reason, even the worst players feel qualified to issue their two cents on the right way to play a shot, proper strategy, etc. One of the biggest challenges for golf teachers is turning down the ‘noise’ around their students and getting them to listen to their advice alone. While much of this amateur advice is given with good intentions, it can do real damage to a persons’ golf game if taken to heart. The following four statements are the biggest myths you are likely hear being passed around the fairways or practice tee.
- ‘Keep Your Head Down’. This one drives golf teachers absolutely crazy. It is true that you need to keep your eyes down during the golf swing. You do not, however, need to keep your head down. In fact, trying to keep your head down will inhibit your body turning through the shot, help to create and outside-to-inside swing path, and a resulting slice. Hmmm….I wonder where all of those slicers come from?
- ‘Never Up, Never In’. This axiom refers to the fact that if the ball never gets to the hole, it can’t fall into the cup. While technically true, this is terrible advice that is far more trouble than it’s worth. First, the goal of any shot should be to end up hole high. It doesn’t matter if you are hitting a 10 foot putt, or a 150 yard approach – you always are striving to get the distance just right. Second, by making sure you get the ball at least to the hole, you will increase the risk of running well by the cup and having another hard putt (or chip) coming back. Ignore this saying and try to get your ball hole high time after time.
- ‘Trees Are 90% Air’. Volumetrically, maybe. However, your golf ball isn’t concerned with the volume of the tree; it just needs to pass though. When taking a cross-section (which is what matters when trying to hit through a tree), there is far more tree than there is air. Proceed with caution when trying to hit a shot directly through a tree – the odds are not in your favor.
- ‘Swing Harder into the Wind’. Believe it or not, some golfers still think this is a good idea. The reason this makes no sense is quite simple once you understand a little basic science. A golf ball is affected the by wind because of the spin on the ball. A theoretical shot with no spin (which doesn’t exist) would ‘knuckle’ through the air, but still cover its full distance. Shots fall short because the wind enhances the backspin on the ball, making the ball fly higher and thus short of its target. When you swing harder, you impart more backspin on the ball. See the problem? Harder hit shots into the wind actually will land short of easier swings. The only way to approach an into-the-wind shot is with extra club and a soft swing.
The next time you hear a playing partner spew one of these ridiculous golf myths you can either throw it back at them with facts, or quietly smile and let them keep on believing the lies. I guess it depends on whether you want to help them play better, or get into their pocketbook for a couple bucks at the end of the day. It’s up to you.