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Viewer Mail--Op Ed


As a teaching professional who will use anything that works with a student (and sometimes you have to use only that which they want to buy!), I find your site to be fascinating -- so much of it is true and so much of it is bovine scatology. The ball is only the arrow; focusing on the ball has ruined more swings than anything I've ever seen. I get my best results by having students focus on a very small target, the ball gets in the way of a good swing and doesn't really even need to be there. Isn't it ironic that your product is a "flail?" Keep adding to the site, and don't let the critics and bozos get you down. How many strokes will you give to a little old man?



Thanks for your comments JP. Just remember: there is nothing truer than a big pile of cow shit ;~), especially when walking through a cow field at night without a flashlight!

I understand what you are saying in your comments on the ball. And I agree with you regarding your specific line of reasoning. For the sake of the reader, let me take the liberty to explain what you mean. When we stare the ball down, attach all sort of meaning to it, and attach a "largeness" to it that it doesn't possess, it becomes an object which we translate into FEAR. When we "focus" on the ball rather than simply attend to the pure sensation of it, the sight of ball becomes a tension generator within ones own the psyche. I believe this to be the motivation for your objection to my statement "the ball is the only sensation."

Although you may accuse me of playing games with words, our difference in opinion has to do with the difference between sensation and perception. Focus on the ball (the clear and sharply defined condition of an image) has more to do with the inner dialogue it evokes. Focus on the ball ruins swings because of our attempts to define its condition. Attention to the ball has to do with the pure sensation of the ball (without the attached conditions), vis a vis, what is the nature of the object before we can label it "a ball"? In that scenario there is no FEAR because no conditions have been attached to it. It then becomes the pure object existing in a "now-ness" of no mind. We step into the mushin of the ball. (see Mushin at the Masters)

This doesn't mean that we disregard the target or the proper alignment to it. This doesn't mean that we stare down the ball during setup so as to freeze up on it. As a matter of fact, during WALKING and WAGGLING we should be spotting the ball down the line (returning and spotting, returning and spotting) as we work into the comfort zone. But once we commit to striking the ball, there's nothing to do but see the ball pure all the way. I really don't think you could argue with me there. I take it that you do believe the golfer should be looking at the ball whilst he or she is swinging.

Yes, the ball does get in the way of a good swing. Since we cannot get rid of the ball without getting rid of the game, we're just gonna have to deal with it. Teaching the student to release the hands to the ball without fear is probably the hardest aspect of instruction. That is why one should always use the Golden Swing Thing with open and free hands. One must learn to trust and relax into centered-ness.



Perhaps I've misunderstood or misrepresented your "focus on the ball" concept. My over-riding experience is that golf students who try to hit the ball (instead of swinging through where the ball just happens to be -- toward the ultimate target)

Yes...the point is well taken. There is the tendency among beginners to "stab" at the ball rather than swing through it. This happens because the smaller muscles try to get in there and "steer" the swing to the ball, rather than trusting that the larger muscles will bring the smaller ones into proper service.

will "flail" at it rather than finding their "Authentic Swing," to borrow from Steven Pressfield. I've seen many beginners consistently achieve their target -- the top of the ball -- because that is what they are looking at. Target = top of ball; swing hits top of ball; Objective achieved. Not the shot they want, though.

That's an excellent analogy. The ball represents just one point on the wheel house and the wheel house does not stop at the top of the ball. It continues on and through.

Blind people can shoot in the low 80s, so we know that the ball itself is superfluous.

Of course the imagination plays a large role in the golfer's ability or inability to release themselves from fear. So I believe that, though we may be disagreeing on the choice of words, pure action on the ball is more dependent on the mind being able to release itself from conceptions. Can we agree on this JP? Shivas Irons liked to use the term "the seven veils of consciousness." The optical realities are secondary to this.

David Duvall and Anika Sorenstam both have their heads swinging forward to the target just before impact -- they're not really staring at the ball at all.

Well no ... not "staring," but the eyes DO roll in their sockets. The head reacts to pure action just as any other part of the body outside of Center. Though they may not remember the sight of the ball leaving the clubface, I do believe they are WITNESSING impact. This helps keep the swing in unison.

A head frozen in view of the ball prevents the swing from finishing.

I agree

The ball is merely the arrow.

Why do I get the feeling that you have been saying that for forty years or so? :~)


JP was kind enough to forward that long lost dialogue we had. Here is a recent e-mail.


I use "gadgets" or training aids to break people away from the ball-as-target mode and promote a feel for the new motion they must learn. Since the whole swing takes less than two seconds and we never really fully pause, I find static positions only marginally useful (for illustration purposes). There's gadget somewhere that works for each person. Properly practiced drills are also excellent, if fitted to the student's needs. Drills with gadgets are even better. By the way, I have a self-published drills book with over 250 drills coming out any day now.

Yes, I would love to play with your Golden Swing Thing and evaluate it.


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The Progress of a Student and Teacher


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