If It Aint Broke Should You Fix It?

We of the day job set, are in a conundrum when it comes to trying new techniques to improve our golf.  In January, 2012, I read Stan Utley’s “The Art of the Short Game” and immediately put the guru’s easy to implement steps into play.  Utley’s key point is to force a pivot and release on all short shots which was not my style, and two years later after suffering mind boggling bouts of skinny chips, lateral hits, and loss of distance control around the green, I’ve finally identified the changes as the source.  The chipping fix was fairly easy but the elevated pitch shots with my 58 were driving me nuts.  I finally returned to the hinge and hold the blade at the target method I had used very successfully, and was fixed.  I’m not knocking the recommendations in the book because I’m sure they work for some and Utley’s reputation is unsurpassed.  The lesson here is if you are competent or even very good with a certain aspect of your game, DON’T MESS WITH IT unless you have hours to dedicate to practice and play.  Even then, proceed with caution.

It feels gratifying to get back on track.  We all have weaknesses and there’s nothing wrong with seeking to improve them, but there is nothing worse than losing a strength.  My biggest fear was that it was mental or brought on by age, but thankfully it was technique-based.  I am eternally grateful for the detailed practice journal I’ve been keeping since 2008.  It has notes for every session on the range and practice green, and I was able to find some data points on techniques that worked well before I read the book.  I’d advise everyone to keep these type of records and refer back frequently when you struggle.

Have you ever been over ambitious and attempted an improvement that broke a strength?

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About Brian Penn

Avid sports fan and golf nut. I am a lifelong resident of the Washington D.C. area and love to follow the local teams. Also worked as a golf professional in the Middle Atlantic PGA for several years and am intrigued by the game to no end. I love to play and practice and am dedicated to continual improvement.
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6 Responses to If It Aint Broke Should You Fix It?

  1. There is so much out there when it comes to golf instruction especially the short game that it is hard to decide what may be the best method for a particular individual. The bottom line,though is always results and the number. Even though you don’t want to become obsessed with your score it is the yardstick that tells what is working and what is not. I think that every one has certain tendencies in their game. The question is do you fight them or do you accept them and do the best you can.

    • Brian Penn says:

      Vet, it’s incredible how much instructional material is available for golf compared to other sports. Libraries are full of volumes. In contrast, I’ll bet you can’t find five books to show you how to throw a knuckleball or punt a spiral. Wonder why that is. Thanks!

  2. Gents

    I agree that if it is not broken…. I would suggest that it is okay to try new things. Sometimes, like chipping, it works to a degree. If you are satisfied with 50% up and down success then don’t change. I believe that golf is about challenging ourselves all the time. Trying new things does make us better on many levels. I would say, though, having the courage and wisdom to go back to what works is also an important part of the game. Great Post!

    Cheers
    Jim

  3. Brian Penn says:

    Jim, great introspection about trying new things. Unlike when you upgrade your computer’s operating system or fix your car with a new part, the wonderful thing about golf is that you can downgrade if it doesn’t work. Thanks!

  4. Fred Clark says:

    Great topic. About 3 years ago I took my 1st lesson in about 5 years and I was excited about it, the Pro was a young kid who was supposed to be a very good teacher. At the time I was playing a lot and was down to about a 5.8 index, not practicing much, busy with work, playing only maybe 30 rounds a year. Lesson was a bit of a horror show, he tried to change my grip, ball position, head position, plane in one session. He got me hitting the ball pretty well, but you want to talk about swing thoughts over the ball and during the swing, wow, way too many. I actually told him right then and there I thought his suggestions were a bit too much , it was like a complete swing rebuild. I took a lesson 4 years prior from a really great vetran and he changed one thing, and my swing then and during this lesson was basically the same. I know my swing very well and know what I need to work on and what works for me. If I could go back to playing a lot and really worked on short game, and putting I could get down to a 2 I think, but 2 young kids right now wont allow, which is fine for me. Someday… I’ll get there. I Love the game
    p.s I like the idea of keeping a journal. I have some really good mental positive swing visions in my head from great practice sessions in the past, but writing things down or recording them would be great…
    btw.. enjoyed our round at True Blue, unfortunately you saw me with my C minus game. 😉

    • Brian Penn says:

      Thanks Fred. It gets easier when they grow up and can take care of their essentials. Until then, play when you can and don’t worry too much about the state of your game. I too enjoyed our round at True Blue. What an awesome course!

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