Ten years ago I wrote this post about the urge to tinker with my game. Today I’m fighting the same urge after a good round yesterday at The Links of Gettysburg. Tinkering usually happens when we’re playing well because we get the feeling that we can perfect a certain aspect of our game that would make things so much better. Do we golfers ever learn?
Try this quick mental exercise. Who has the best swing on tour in terms of athleticism and technique? Rory McIlroy gets my vote. Why would he ever tinker with anything. In 2011 he crushed the field in the U.S. Open at Congressional. In 2012, he was the #1 player in the world, however he tinkered by abruptly switching equipment from Titleist to Nike. I remember thinking, “What the hell is he doing?” Predictably, the wheels came off and culminated in his on-course withdrawl at the 2013 Honda Classic. He was defending champion and was hacking terribly and blamed it on a tooth ache, but we knew the real story. Fast forward to March of 2021 where Rory was at it again. This time tinkering with his swing in an attempt to copy the move of Bryson DeChambeau. He twisted himself into a swing pretzel and was in a bad place for a while.
Be on the lookout for tinkering temptations. I have an affinity for Martin Hall on Golf Channel’s School of Golf. Love the guy and he’s a very knowledgeable instructor and entertaining personality, but it seems he has three drills he wants you to try on every episode. Imagine if you tried them all. That would be hyper-tinkering.
What happened to me? On March 5, I reviewed a curation of lesson feedback from three years of sessions with my instructor. A recurring drill emerged as we tried to get me to eliminate the pulled shot and effectively take the left side of the golf course out of play. I put that drill into play and have struck the ball well ever since. What’s different now is that I’m playing and practicing LESS, but am maintaining my good form. Clearly this is no WOOD band-aid. But a couple days ago, I reviewed a swing video my son took of me hitting some wedges in my back yard and didn’t like something in my takeaway. Bang! The urge to tinker! I resisted because the last time I got in tinkering trouble was after watching swing video.
Rory has started working with sports psychologist, Bob Rotella. Good move to focus on the mental game and let his natural talent flow. As for me, no tinkering so far, and I will continue the same simple swing keys that have yielded early season returns.
Are you tinkering? Hope not but play well even if you do!