What Happened to Rory, Luke, Tiger, and Jim?
According to the USGA the average score for men, women, amateurs, and professionals has not changed in the last sixty years. Statistics also show that very few golfers ever improve after their third year in the sport. This is difficult to understand given the facts that equipment (clubs and ball) allow golfers to hit the ball farther and straighter than any time in history, scientists have identified the biomechanics of the perfect swing for various body types, and error detection equipment pinpoints precisely where individual golfers swings differ from the ideal. Weren’t the technological and scientific advances meant to help all golfers improve? If they had, wouldn’t we have seen an across the board improvement in golfers’ ability to score?
This is not to trivialize the great performances some golfers have been able to achieve. Nor is it an indictment of qualified professional instructors who have helped golfers achieve these performances, but something seems wrong. Is it that some people are meant to play golf and others not. If it were, all the technological and scientific advances would have helped tour professionals and elite level amateurs lower their scores. They haven’t!
This past week we saw Luke Donald and Rory Mcilroy, the number one and two payers in the world miss the cut in this year’s US Open at The Olympic Club in San Francisco. We also saw Tiger Woods fade away on Saturday and Sunday after being tied for the lead going into the weekend where he would have dominated in the past. We saw Jim Furyk’s hopes dashed on Sunday after the USGA shortened the 16th hole by about 100 yards. He didn’t know how to play the hole and succumbed to pressure, a fact that was often repeated by the TV commentators.
Why do great players ‘lose it’? Why do they play well one week only to fall apart the next or play well for two days and then play poorly the next two days? Why do they ever hit the ball poorly? They have great swings and have honed them on the range for years. Why do the greatest players in the game feel it necessary to retool their swings to be able to compete? They’ve been competing quite fine for a long time. That’s why they’re the best in the world. Why do some golfers find it difficult if not impossible to develop even mediocre levels of performance? Why do some golfers have great practice swings that disintegrate into a series of slashes, swats, and lunges every time they have to hit the ball? Why do some golfers practice better than they play? Why do most golfers succumb to pressure more times than not, even those who have reached the pinnacle of success? Why is golf the greatest yet most frustrating game ever created by man?
Professionals from inside and outside the sport have addressed this perplexing problem, including professional club fitters and manufacturers, teaching pros, nutritionists, fitness experts, Sport Psychologists, and Sports Vision specialists among others. Each have contributed to our knowledge and understanding. Professionals from each of these area of expertise have assisted a number of golfers perform better. Yet we haven’t seen consistent improvement across the board. The sixty year trend reported by the USGA continues. What are we missing?
I have my ideas and I’m sure you have yours. Over the next several weeks I will offer several opinions and potential solutions. I welcome your comments, questions, and criticisms. Maybe through an open dialog we will begin to change the state of the game.
Filed under: Golf
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