In Part One, I divided playing golf into three primary skills comprising learning how to swing, the fitting of equipment, and on-course experience. On the surface, there would seem to be somewhat of a natural instinct to learn the game in this presented order. To illustrate, when I have gone through periods of just plain hitting the ball lousy, the predominant cause of which would be swing and/or equipment problems, it has always been difficult for me to spend time concentrating on things like stance alignment and the ideal type of shot to play for any given situation, items that generally belong in the on-course learning category. There is, however, no literal requirement to work on these facets in any given order, particularly as one becomes more experienced. While physical techniques and/or attitudes can be such that they overlap more than one of the mentioned branches, each can usually be isolated enough with plenty to work on while essentially ignoring the other two. As a long-time player, I often organize my game into the above classifications (and even further sub-categories), and in no deliberate sequence intensely concentrate on any one skill for a time to help improve that part of my ability. At other times, I will review my game in the exact order displayed for the purpose of analyzing my overall performance.
Attempting to evaluate which of the above stages takes on the most significance toward playing golf well is a difficult task indeed, especially since it will be different for every individual. There is no set formula. Just as different physical swing styles can be highly successful, different overall approaches to the game can also result in highly prosperous play. How much emphasis is placed on each area can be quite a personal thing. As an example, for one who has sufficient swing ability and/or clubfitting skills such that he/she is able to hit a golf ball high, low, curve it different ways, has a good short game, or is otherwise able to recover more successfully from wayward strokes, attempting to play toward a specific part of a fairway or green may not be quite as crucial compared with someone (whether by choice or skill level) who primarily hits the ball low and curves it in one direction only. On-course strategy may take on a more significant role for the player with a more limited shot repertoire. In the end however, no one plays golf consistently well without journeying through these three elements of exposure at some level. Of those set forth, perhaps learning how to play on the course might be considered the most infinite of the learning experiences. At the same time, I can safely say that rarely does a day go by where I do not learn at least a little something new within each of the named segments.
These outlined skills that make up playing golf are not as firmly cut and dried as they are composed here. In my case, to reach the level I have in my game, I currently find the most important aspect to actually be located in a gray area between the swing and equipment fitting categories, and that is namely confidence in the swing I have developed over time, regardless of whether others consider it to be a good or a bad swing. Attributable to this trait, as an example, I have thus far learned more about what truly needs to be understood regarding the fitting of one’s golf clubs in order to maximize his/her ability. A focus in that abstract area, however, may not be suitable for the next person. Even within my own development, the priorities have tended to shift over time depending on the stage of my career and if I was struggling with certain parts of my play. Next, I will begin to reveal some enlightening insights about the golf swing.