I take no pleasure in presenting this perspective regarding educators of the game (of which I am one) and swing aids. But my first-hand view is what it is when I am wearing my athlete’s hat and only my athlete’s hat, and it may help enlighten anyone wanting to play golf better. The plain, unimposing fact is that coaching for activities performed on an individual basis is nowhere near as necessary as for team events. As kids (and we all pretty much stay kids in the course of game playing), there were always those occasions when three or only two people a side could be mustered when playing baseball or football as examples. Even in such instances, disagreements and arguments within the team about various matters were sometimes so copious that they would distract and delay play. On rare occasions, games were quit before their conclusions due to internal team dissention. Coaching of team sports is absolutely essential in order to develop organization and finality of strategy, with the actual teaching of individualized skills almost a secondary (and often dreaded) afterthought to many coaches and players alike.
Most of golf’s great players through the years have documented how they played and learned how to play the game. With me predominantly playing team sports as I was growing up, it seemed mostly amusing to me when I made the switch to golf as to why players would voluntarily choose to employ golf instructors (or swing aids developed by such instructors) instead of choosing to avoid them. Come to think of it, that was one substantial reason I chose to take up golf, because of nearly all of the various coaches I had clear into college. With precious few exceptions, I eventually felt I should have been paid to have to listen to any more of what most instructors had to offer, with no evidence to the contrary sighted since in golf. As can be readily and more obviously seen when watching all kinds of team sports especially, even at the professional level, really lousy coaching help far exceeds the truly good stuff.
Now there were undeniably instances when I did learn valuable lessons from some of my coaches through the years that helped me then and still stay with me today, even if about life and not the fundamentals of the particular activity we were engaged in at the time. I remember them well, think about them often, and thank them. Crossing my thoughts equally though are some very basic things I know now but were not taught and might have been by numerous instructors. This was not due to their lack of effort in most cases, rather it was they just did not possess sufficient expertise, at least not as much as I believed them to have at the time. Most of my pertinent learning and skill came by way of experiences during actually playing, interacting with both my own teammates and opponents, and observing the most successful people who were doing what I wanted to do. I also freely admit to reading anything I could find that was put out by those I most admired at the time, which I know contributed greatly (still does) to my ability.
Because there is no inherent “need” for a coach in golf in its usual format, with some variance in attitude I primarily consider individualized, paid golf swing instruction to be another form of swing aid and a nonessential option to be sure. I can speculate as to why the “tradition” of taking golf swing lessons and using other swing aids exist in golf and theorize that most of those who play the game have (and are generally required to have) above average financial means. I might point to that as one potential factor of such behavior, but again it is just speculation. For those who feel they are at a disadvantage because they cannot afford offered golf instruction or swing aides, not to worry. Dressed in my player’s shoes during this posting, I can tell you in no uncertain terms that you are predominantly getting the better of that deal. Go to your local library, sort through what is available by those who developed effective golf swings, choose your preference(s), and swing away. More next time.