June 8, 2008

Headaches and swing flaws by osmosisÖ

Two other members of our limited tribe from Son Tay have been staying with us, which thrills my daughter as she loves playing with these two. Unfortunately, their concept of "play" included running around the house at high speed and ignoring parents instructions to stop running.

If youíre a parent, you know what happened next as it is part of the fabric of the universe...it HAD to happen next, otherwise our very existence would cease. Like the sun rising and setting each day, like the tides...it HAD to be.

Yes, my daughter missed a turn at high speed and crashed headfirst into the wall..

To my daughterís credit, she sucked up the pain and refused an ice pack. She preferred her own method of pain relief... screaming loud enough to be heard on the moon, which is the second immutable law of the universe.

Now, hereís the funny part...my daughter did get a huge bruise over her right eye but did NOT get a huge headache from it. However, at five AM, I awoke with the most hideous headache I have ever had, directly over the right eye.

She whacks HER head and I get the headache via "parentus osmosis." This is the same universal law that causes you to catch a cold every time your kid does.

This is not limited to parents as it can affect many other areas as well, but for the sake of argument, we will stick to parenting and golf.

Osmosis attacks teaching professional too, which is why most teachers will stop giving lessons around 7 Ė 14 days before a serious tournament. As a long time teacher, I can attest to the simple fact that you can pick up some of the most hideous swing flaws from your students without really trying.

Teachers are focussing on their students swing flaws and, as such, they become ingrained in the teacherís minds. If the teacher is not careful, he will eventually begin to subconsciously do them himself.

In the movie "Tin Cup" with Kevin Costner, his character gets a case of the "shanks" at the practice range before the first round of the US Open. A shank simply means that you hit the ball with the hosel of the club instead of the club face.

Now, the only redeeming feature of that particular movie was when Cheech Marin (as his caddie) cured the panicking Costnerís problem in a hysterical, yet realistic way - he got his playerís mind off it.

Most pros will laugh if they shank one at the range, but if it happens twice itís no longer amusing and the third time will spark quiet terror. In fact, most pros will look away when it happens to someone before a tournament for fear of ingraining it in their own fragile psyches.

Picking up a swing flaw can happen at almost any time and from the most innocent of sources, such as a well-meaning golf instruction article in a famous international golf magazine such as Golf Digest which once ran an article 20 years ago entitled "How to stop coming over the top."

I never had that particular problem until I read that stupid article and it took me three weeks to fix it.

I have steadfastly refused to read an instruction article from Golf Digest ever since, but Iím not really missing much as they only re-circulate the same tired "secrets" with new packaging each year.

Look folks, there is no secret to the swing, no mystery move involved. Professionals do not practice black magic or swing a live chicken over their heads during a full moon (although Bernhard Langer might have tried it to cure his legendary yips many years ago).

Pros have good swings because we learned the fundamentals properly, then used to hit 1,000 balls a day, rain or shine, often under the watchful eye of our teachers.

There is no substitute for hard work and if you want a great golf swing, first learn good, solid fundamentals from a reputable teaching professional, then practice like hell.

Itís that simple.

Lastly, keep a reusable ice pack in the freezer...because you never know when your kid is gonna run into a wall and give you a headache.

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