Different golf coaches will tell you different things – so how do you know who to trust?

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Views on how the golf swing works are like stories about near holes-in-one – everyone has one, and no-one really wants to listen to anyone else’s.

When the PGA manual was being reviewed in 2001, I was invited to sit on the coaching committee. We all did our best to come up with a ‘common acceptance’, but the differing personal beliefs around the table meant the end result did not truly reflect anyone’s vision. It was a good starting point from which to educate future PGA professionals, but it showed me how difficult it is to get pros to agree on things.

Absolutely everything within the golf swing can be cause for contention, which is crazy when you consider that various champions have displayed the most differing golf swings imaginable. 

If Rory McIlroy’s swing is what you need to win golf tournaments, why has Jim Furyk won so many? If Jimmy Ballard’s ‘connection’ method can help Curtis Strange, Sandy Lyle and Seve Ballesteros win Majors, why do so many go for the ‘stack and tilt’ method?

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There have always been conflicting views on the golf swing, but in this age of social media, they are even more noticeable and the disputes far more public.

There is an almost cult-like mentality among some coaches; dare to question their beliefs and you need to be prepared for some insults! Certain coaches have a set view on how to do things, and feel it necessary to try to kill off any conflicting views, lest their view be undermined, leading to a loss of respect and, crucially, income. Some coaches are traditionalists, staunch in their belief that the golf swing has never changed and that any new thoughts, developments or improvements in science are bordering on witchcraft. 

Others are sensationalists, always looking for the ‘new way to swing’ – a vogue method that completely changes the game. These are usually the ones trying to get themselves some attention, perhaps to flog a book or get people signed up for a series of expensive coaching sessions.

Those examples are the extremes, of course, but the debate itself can be pretty extreme. 

Daring to question another golf coach’s view is often received in a way tantamount to mocking their religious beliefs while suggesting their personal hygiene leaves a lot to be desired! Some coaches – in my mind the best kind – are open to healthy debate and always looking to increase their knowledge and continue to learn. Choosing one standpoint and refusing to ever question it is, in my mind, an easy and cowardly way out.

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We’re now in the fortunate position of having a wealth of data at our fingertips, where launch monitors like TrackMan can tell you exactly what is happening at impact. If you think this would put an end to the disagreements, you’d be sadly mistaken. 

Two pros can look at the same set of data coming from the same swing and come to two completely contrasting views on what is working and what isn’t. This is where finding not just a quality coach, but the right coach for you, becomes so important. 

NEXT: Will a draw or fade help you play better golf?

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