A Personal View On Golf Swing Methods

My name is Doug Kercher from the Gold Coast in Australia and I am approaching nearly 20 years as a PGA golf professional.  I am currently in my second year on the Australian PGA Senior Tour.

My golf articles and blog will include the challenges and progress of my students as well as mine on the Tour and reviews of products and topics of interest in the golfing world.  I look forward to getting to know you and helping you through your roadblocks and encouraging you on your journey to better golf.

When I started as a golf pro in 1990, I did not have much idea about my swing. It was based on a few basic lessons, reading books and mostly feel and timing. I was playing nearly every day in my quest to turn pro and shooting some pretty good scores (except in tournaments of any consequence when my technique did not stand up to any extra pressure).

My game suffered with the shock of turning pro which was largely brought about by working 40 hours in a pro shop for minimal wages while having to study and complete assignments and pass the stringent year long playing test by playing weekly Monday tournaments at a different course every week set up to tournament standards, back tees and difficult pin placements.

Video technology was in its infancy and I played by feel, one day good, one day not so good, one round good, the next not so good, one hole well, the next poor and one shot great and the next poor.  When I got on a roll, everything was going well and all of a sudden, a poor shot or round came out of nowhere.  I was plagued by the occasional blocks, pulls and hooks that even Adam Scott said on the Fox PGA Golf Show that he battles when he is off his game.   So we are all in good company.

During my qualification as a trainee golf pro, these poor shots would inevitably cause a few bad holes and put me under severe pressure on tournament days and week to week while trying to maintain the required average score of 6 over par.  By the way, in 3rd year my average was 3.5 over par while my handicap was 1.2, remember this is calculated with no home course, tournament conditions at 50 different courses during the year, often 36 hole events and involving an hour travel to hit off early morning, arriving home late and getting to work at dawn the next day.

The biggest lesson I took out of the experience of playing to a set standard was to grind out a round by never giving up.  Even if your swing didn’t feel great, you tried to get every pitch and chip close and make sure you holed every tricky putt as you started to recognise the value of every shot.  And often you were rewarded as things turned around at the end of the round with a string of pars and birdies.

Anyway, my average form compared to some of the other trainee pros, although way ahead of most amateurs, started me on a search for better techniques in all areas of the game through lessons, books and studying the academic requirements of the course.  I literally lived golf for four years and the improvement was noticable but nowhere near where I wanted to be in terms of competing against the best.  So I turned to teaching. There is an old saying, those who can, do, those who cannot, teach – probably a bit harsh but I am sure all golfers dream of competing at the top level and there is not much room at the top.  A lot of things have to go right to get on to a major tour, the biggest challenge is getting the monetary support to stay out there to practice and play until you step up to the required level.

Anyway with all my research I still had not found a level of golf that I was happy with until the year 2000 when I put into practice a lot of the principles taught by Jimmy Ballard at the 2000 PGA Coaching Summit.  Jimmy mentioned being taught by Sam Byrd, who had helped Ben Hogan, whose swing I was trying to understand and execute.

However, my swing that I was happy with for seven years has not held up during the Senior Pro events I have played in for the last year or so.  I have had some Top 10 finishes but also some disappointing results.

I liked Ballard’s methodology and connection but there was still something missing. Perhaps it was in the translation but videos of my swing did not look right and the results were not quite what I was looking for.  So I started looking at the One Plane Swing by Jim Hardy and the Stack and Tilt method that Aaron Baddeley was having success with.  I had helped Aaron just before he won his second Australian Open.

Interestingly, I had a Swingjacket I had purchased a couple of years ago, endorsed by Peter Jacobsen and Jim Hardy.  I hit the ball well when I used it but it felt a lot different to my normal swing and I could not repeat the swing when I took the Swingjacket off.  It was really because I did not understand the swing principles that the training aid was wanting me to do.  I also bought Jim Hardy’s book but I could not really understand how this one plane swing worked.  Jim Hardy also had a very interesting section about Hogan’s swing in his book.

Anyway, after one particularly disappointing tournament, I made up my mind to revamp my swing once again.  This time I actually really understood both Ben Hogan’s Swing and the One Plane Swing.  Jim Hardy had explained some things that put the missing pieces from the Ben Hogan Modern Fundamentals book into place and started to make it work.  It is very exciting to have a new lease of life with your golf after 50.

Until next time, all the best for your golfing future…

Doug

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