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The Swing Thing
 -By Pat Dolan 

A very stong notion amongst amateur Golfers is that the Swing is the only thing in golf. This article opens the realms of what matters most in the Game of Golf.

Most golfers "mistakenly" believe the golf swing is the most important thing in golf. Please understand a good golf swing is important however it is NOT as important as many golfers believe. Their belief is understandable. Virtually everything the modern golfer sees, hears or reads about the game tells them the swing is everything. However, there is one thing that is far more important, can you guess what it is? (Answer below)

Sadly many of today's teaching professionals continue to promote the belief that the swing is so important. I confess, I too was guilty of it. Many of us teaching professionals had became nothing more than "swing specialists." 

In fact, my first comment to most new students was, "Hit a few balls so I can analyze your swing" rather than, "How can I help you?" 

This problem, in my opinion, originated with photography. Since photographs have been around they have been used to disprove, prove and improve things. Arnold Palmer's Graph Check Polaroid camera (circa 1960) helped promote that belief. 

Using it, a professional could take a picture of the students swing and within seconds they could view and analyze that swing together. The pictures could even focus on specific portions of the swing like the back swing, the downswing or the follow through. The student would attempt to adjust their swing on their next shot and the new picture would be viewed to prove if they had or hadn't. 

Please note, the sad thing is everyone honestly believed that improving golfers swing would make them a better player. While they were partially right, they carried it too far. This obsession of trying to get the students to improve their swings probably ruined the game for many of them. It may have even led untold numbers of them into quitting the game. 

The truth is, a full "perfect" swing is used on less than half of all golf shots. Par on most 18-hole golf courses is 72 and to shoot it, you are allowed 2 putts on every green, a total of 36 shots. So with a par shooter exactly half of their game is on the putting surface. This is true of higher handicappers as well, as most of their additional shots are taken with altered or shortened swings like when hitting half wedges, chip shots, etc. Therefore a FULL "perfect swing" is NOT needed on those shots either. 

Common sense tells you the golf swing can't be ALL-important if it's only used on half of the golf shots. So why spend 90% of your practice time on something you only do on 40% of your shots? 

So what is it that is far more important than your golf swing? 

It's your thinking or mental game. Thinking is required on all shots. There are plenty of legitimate questions, which need to be asked and answered before hitting any shot or putt. You always need to think about and make decisions on things like which club, how much break, should I loft it or pitch and run it, should I gamble or play it safe, etc. 

So for those of you stuck in snow country awaiting the thaw, now's the time to go to the library and read all you can on "how to" mentally improve your game. Just remember a perfect swing isn't worth a damn, "if it's used when trying to clear water and you're not using enough club." Wouldn't you agree that selecting enough club, may at times be more important than a perfect swing? 

You do!!! Great because now you're truly on the way towards improving your game. You will now be open to "looking for and listening to" alternative ways of doing it. Perhaps now you understand how students made remarkable improvements so fast, so easily and without physical practice.

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