Bad Targets = Bad Swings
Most golf swings are based on bad targets. It’s the core reason why so many swings are
chaotic at best. All the analytical,
mechanical, positional thinking can’t change the bad perception that created
the bad swing in the first place!!!
Understanding bad targets is step 1 to improving your
swing. Intention in the right direction
is the way to progress naturally in this game.
So the 4th bad target in golf is SWINGING
STRAIGHT TO HIT THE BALL STRAIGHT. This
may be the most destructive of all bad targets because it is taught and
Here’s the way I learned one of the most powerful insights
in my golfing career…..
In 2004 David Lee and I were conducting a golf school
together and during a rain delay we were chatting. At one point David mentioned to me that he
had a small problem with ATHLETIC GOLF and its principles….. He said, “Pete, the target destroys the
This was a massive slap in the face for me. In my defense, I pointed out that it was the
catcher’s mitt that creates the pitch, the basketball hoop that creates the
shot and the wide receivers route that creates the throw!
He countered with this statement: “Pete, the golf swing is an extremely
sensitive circle around the body (the forward pivotal axis to be more
Those words rung true to me.
You see for years I had been using a tee ball to illustrate the natural
motion people use to move a ball far and forward. I would have them use the back of the left
hand and intend to move the ball at about waist high as far as they possible
could forward. I asked them how they
would move their arms back in an effort to do this….. Every student swung in a circle around their body!
*That means that we all know intuitively how to swing a
When David said “sensitive”
circle, he was referring to the fact that it only takes 3/16th of an
inch to mis-hit a golf shot.
Here’s how he delivered what I then believed to be the
knockout punch to ATHLETIC GOLF’s most important concept: “Any linear motion in a circle
destroys a circle and guarantees that a compensation must to be made in order
to get the club back on path. That’s a
perfect recipe for inconsistency…”
Any attempt to swing straight
will destroy the path of the club….
He went on pointing out the obvious fact that almost every
golfer tends to get worse as they get closer to the green. Golfers consciously and unconsciously do less
with their turns and more with their arms as they get closer to the hole! Most of us purposely quiet our lower bodies
and direct the club more with our arms with chips, pitches, and most definitely
Then he went on with this statement: “Ever wonder why 20% of tour pros have the
yips? Why over 50% of senior tour
professionals and over 80% of senior golfers have the yips? Ever wonder why 99.9% of all yips happen with
chips and putts?”
I thought it was because golfers get nervous over easy chips
and putts and this turns into a mental problem.
I thought that even at the highest level, the spotlight got so intense
that golfers “choked” on the 3 footers…..
His reply blew me away!
“Pete, you’re telling me that a baseball pitcher and a field goal kicker
don’t feel as much pressure as a golfer?”
*I can only think of 1 case of the yips in all other sports
over the last 2 decades!!!!
Of course he’s right!
Pitchers in baseball and Kickers in football have way more pressure on
them (or at a minimum the same amount) and they DO NOT GET THE YIPS!
Other athletes don’t get the
yips because they throw, kick, swing, etc…. ROTATIONALLY!
After a few days of running this through my brain, I
realized that the TARGET CAN STILL CREATE THE SWING, it just has to naturally
be with a rotational motion. The catcher’s
mitt still creates the throw; it’s just that a pitcher rarely goes linear in
their motion…. They throw on an arc, and they release the ball on a
Final thought: There are some great golfers that chip and
putt with linear motion. The rotational
swing from the inside out is the MOST EFFICIENT, PHYSICS COMPLIANT swing, not
the ONLY swing. Great wedge players and
putters that swing straight, with very still bodies are susceptible to the yips
at some point, but I do not wish that upon them! For those of us who have had the yips, and for
those of you who struggle mightily with the wedge shots, I would highly
recommend learning to move the arms with GRAVITY AND ROTATION, rather than
trying to swing straight to make the ball go straight, or trying to strike at
the ball in an attempt to make solid contact. For most of us, these two bad targets create
bad swings demanding compensations that are just too difficult to control!