One thing that drive me crazy is this comment: “If Moe was so good, why didn’t he play on the PGA Tour?” Another form of this question is this: “If the Single Plane golf swing is so good, why isn’t there more tour players on tour using it?”.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand the question. As a matter of fact, I myself probably asked the question 20 years ago when I first heard of Moe (Although I doubt it).
There are a few things about this question that have me flummoxed.
First, the question implies that all that there is to playing the game of golf, and winning on the PGA Tour is mostly about ball-striking. This is far from the truth. As a matter of fact, a friend of mine made me laugh this week when, after caddying for a tour player in the recent Orlando PGA event, said “You know that commercial that says ‘these guys are good’. The fact of the matter is that when it comes to ball-striking ‘These guys (PGA players) are NOT that good'”.
My friend is right. The PGA tour players are, at best, adequate ball-strikers. And good players know this. There is so much to playing a good round such as chipping, putting, course management, decision making, caddies, good and bad breaks…. The list goes on and on. Ball-striking is just a piece of the puzzle.
The second frustrating part of this question is that, the person asking the question is usually 10,000 hours away from being a skilled golfer. As a matter of fact, the skilled golfers I know don’t often question Moe’s ball-striking ability because skilled golfers understand the importance of ball-striking as it relates to playing the game. Is is an important part but not the total determinant of playing great rounds. Heck, Moe even knew this and started every clinic by talking about how important the wedges are.
If you want to truly understand how ball-striking helps you become a better golfer, the answer lies what great ball-striking actually does for your game – one word – Consistency.
Great golf is played because, because of great ball-striking (or adequate in the case of the PGA Tour), only if you are able to predict outcomes. For example, things such as where your drives will likely end up, or how far you hit a 5 iron or 8 iron no longer leave you guessing about whether you can get over a water hazard or bunker. Furthermore, adequate ball-striking can allow you to manage your game and strategize how you play certain shots or holes.
Without predictable skills in ball-striking, there is no real way to develop consistency in your scoring. One day you will play a golf course where driving accuracy is not a premium and you might score well due to the fact that all of your off-line drives end up in bounds with clear approaches to the greens where, on a difficult course, you would have found yourself penalized and replaying shots from the tee. I recall one student in particular who kept statistics on all of his rounds such as Fairways hit (FW), Greens in Regulation (GIR) and Putts (P). One statistic he tracked was what he called BUH – for “blow-up-holes”. Not a regular statistic on the PGA tour, but maybe it should be. My students BUH statistic was related to having an explosion and making a triple-bogey or worse on a hole.
Further investigation, however, showed that his BUH’s were mostly due to bad drives almost 95% of the time. What does this tell us? That statistics are great if you look at them correctly and that scores, as in this student’s situation, were reflected in his ball-striking ability particular to his driver. This was definitely a case of ball-striking however, often students will blame their ball-striking when statistics show that their putting is the problem.
In one situation, after working with a student for almost 6 months and huge ball-striking improvements, he was still complaining about high scores. I offered to play a round and observe the real problem. After the front 9, it was obvious that after working for months on his swing, he had neglected his short game – scoring 45 with four 3-putts and two 4-putts!. I decided on the back-nine to let the student hit the shots and I would play against him, from his shots, from within 100 yards. With my rusty short game, playing from my students shots, I scored 36, even par. My student shot 43. I beat him by 7 shots! A perfect example of adequate ball-striking is all you really need to play good golf. Consistency and a having a short game are the main factors.
Furthermore, you can’t shoot 59 three times or score 61 as many times as Moe did without both, ball-striking, short-game AND putting. Nor can you win as many tournaments as Moe did without more than just ball-striking skills.
One writer friend of mine compared most golfers challenging of Moe’s swing similar to staying in a burning house because it might be raining outside. You will only reap the benefits of Moe’s swing, and the consistency it can bring, if you step out of your comfort zone and get wet. Then again, there was no better way to understand how great Moe was and why so many people considered him the greatest golfer the world never knew. Of course I understand it because I knew Moe and maybe more importantly was able to do what was more convincing that anything – watch him hit balls.
So for those of you who might still doubt Moe’s Single Plane Swing – I hope you at some point will come to find the true benefits of an easier swing. Until then stay dry and call 911.