Why you should ignore golf commentators

I haven’t been a fan of traditional golf media for some time. I pretty much don’t read the magazines, mainstream books or listen that closely to what the golf commentators have to say. To be honest I find it boring and most of what I hear (or read) is garbage.

My faith in the media did not improve last night. Here in Melbourne we have a 24 hour sports radio station. They cover a wide range of sports and give smaller sports (compared to AFL Football) a chance to let their fans know what is going on.

Wednesday night is golf night.

The commentators were talking about US player Ryan Palmer. Palmer won on the PGA Tour for the first time last week. The two commentators seemed more concerned about his funky action rather than his great win. What was even more annoying was their insistence that the Australian coaching system is better than that in the USA.

What the? I think we (Australia) have had a shocking run in golf of late. If we want to be compared to the best then we need to count Major victories as the measuring stick.

In the last 10 years we’ve had only 1 major winner (Geoff Ogilvy US Open 2006). Compare that to 27 for the USA in the same time period.

These commentators were deadly serious in saying that we produce better players because we are technically more gifted. What rubbish! They also went on to say that the American players spent all their time chipping, pitching and putting like there is something wrong with that. The US players might not have the prettiest golf swings but they are better players because they don’t neglect the scoring game. I also think they don’t let ego get in the way as much as Australians do – they’re happy to win ugly if that is what is needed.

Tiger Woods probably makes the comparison a little unfair, he has won 12 Majors since 1999. So here’s a rundown of all the Nationalities who have won in the last 10 years.

USA – 27
South Africa – 4
Ireland – 3
Argentina – 2
Fiji – 2
Australia – 1
New Zealand – 1
Scotland – 1
South Korea – 1
Spain – 1

The only nation that has performed worse in this time frame would be England. They seem to have a similar group of young players as Australia. All “technically gifted” but who can’t seem to get over the line. I would add that Lee Westwood has been a little unlucky.

My annoyance with these commentators is that they are giving the wrong message. The game is so much more than technique. Young listeners are getting the wrong message. The number one skill is playing the game – the swing is only a small part of it, it will never be the entire game. If you can’t trust your swing, chip and putt you have no chance. If you spend the majority of practice time on your swing you will not become the best player you can be.

The radio show was finished off with a young player being interviewed about a recent trip to the USA. He said it had been a useful learning experience. Warming up before one tournament he looked around and couldn’t believe how poorly the US players swung the club. The guy next to him “had a swing like a dog” but went onto shoot 63.

Us Aussies still have a lot to learn. Give me the US coaching style and mindset any day.

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2 Comments

  • Steady

    Reply Reply August 28, 2009

    Hi Cam,
    That’s why I’m now in favour of a game sense approach to teaching and learning. You stated “The number one skill is playing the game .”
    Strategy and tactics form another part which has been neglected for a long time. Your swing is only the vehicle that gets you there.
    As far as coaching goes. In Australia we have stuck to a tried and true system which has outlived it’s purpose. This is not just in Golf but in a number of sports. There is a much simplier easier way to get the best out of all types of athletes. I’ll leave on this quote .
    I’m about five inches from being an outstanding golfer. That’s the distance my left ear is from my right. ~Ben Crenshaw

  • Gregor

    Reply Reply August 30, 2009

    Cameron,
    I agree. Jim Furyk and an old Irish guy called Eamon Darcy have the worst swings you’ve ever seen. But both of these players have been very succesful in their time. Any time I’ve tried to make my swing better my game has fallen to pieces. It doesn’t matter if you have a great swing – what you need to do is learn to score.

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