Different strokes work for successful folks

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Watching the opening round of this week’s WGC-CA Championship at Doral reminded me of some words of wisdom from resident Doral professional Jim McLean.

McLean says the current belief that the swings of modern golfers are pretty uniform is just a myth!

Golfweek had the benefit of listening to McLean last November when we staged our annual winter meetings at Doral. McLean is one of the most renowned coaches in the world, so when he talks, it pays to listen.

McLean couldn’t understand the theory that most modern players swung the club the same way. He pointed to last year’s Masters as proof.

The three main protagonists in the final round of last year’s Masters certainly didn’t come out of the same mold.

Think about the main men. Angel Cabrera won the tournament with a swing straight out of the caddie yard. Kenny Perry should have won with a swing that can only be described as ugly. Meanwhile, Chad Campbell could take a full swing in a basement crawl space.

photo

Jim Furyk hits a drive during the 2009 British Open at Turnberry.

Watching the first round from Doral confirmed McLean’s view that there is just as much individualism nowadays as there was in days of yore. Take the three-ball of Padraig Harrington, Ian Poulter and Geoff Ogilvy. No way would you say all three swing the club the same.

Or how about the trio of Robert Allenby, Jim Furyk and Lucas Glover? If ever you wanted to see three different golf swings, then that was a group to follow.

These days, elite amateurs throughout the world benefit from national coaching, so that they come out on various tours with sound fundamentals. That’s all well and good, but there’s always the danger that a player’s individualism is taken away from him when he goes for national coaching.

Coaches sometimes need to leave well enough alone, rather than making drastic changes, as some are prone to do. As Bob Torrance says, “never weaken the strong to strengthen the weak.” That maxim should be ingrained in every coach’s psyche.

Even a cursory glance at the aforementioned players, or various winners around the world, proves there is still room for individualism in this great game.

Take Camilo Villegas, winner of last week’s Honda Classic. If ever there is a player who dances to his own tune, then the “Spider-Man” from Colombia is it. You wouldn’t call his action classic.

There is only one thing that matters in golf: the position of the clubface at impact. Doesn’t matter how the clubface gets to that position, as long as it gets there square.

As the world’s best prove, different strokes suit different folks. The bottom line is what works.

Ask Jim McLean.

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