Before I begin, want to send a big Congratulations to Zach Johnson (2007 Master’s Champion). Todd and I played on the mini tour with Zach for 3 years on the NGA Hooter’s tour – Zach is from Cedar Rapids, IA and graduated from Drake University. Remember when he first came out of Drake, he came to the mini tours and we were told how good he was. Todd and I played a lot of golf with Zach – he missed his first 7 cuts on the Hooter’s Tour – we all assumed he was just “another flash in the pan…” Yeah right….. Congrats Zach…
This past week, I was watching a special on HBO about John Wooden, famous UCLA basketball coach. Considered one of the greatest (if not the greatest) coaches of all time. I assume many of you know Coach Wooden’s history (much better than myself), which includes: In 27 years as Bruin coach, his teams registered 620 wins, and only 147 losses while earning far more national honors than any other university. Under Wooden, UCLA won an unprecedented 10 NCAA championships, including seven consecutive (1966-73). Included in the string is one of the most amazing win streaks in all of sports, 38 straight NCAA tournament victories. In addition, there is the all-time NCAA consecutive winning-streak record of 88 games over four seasons, which included consecutive 30-0 seasons in 1971-72 and 1972- 73. UCLA also won 149 of 151 games in Pauley Pavilion during his Bruin tenure. John Wooden is the only coach to compile four undefeated seasons of 30-0 and his Bruin teams captured 19 conference championships (the record of which Wooden is most proud).
A couple of points struck me as I watched the special. Why was Wooden so successful? Why were his teams so consistent? What bread the consistency? How can we relate this to what we do in our golf games / teachings….
One of the really cool stories that was told in the special, was told by many of his famous past players (such as Bill Walton, Jeff Bridges, etc..). They described the annual ritual all the players went through at their first yearly practice.
Imagine a room full of the top players in the country. The best of the best of the best college players (and all American high schools, then freshmen at UCLA) sitting in a room ready to begin the journey at UCLA. In walks Coach Wooden.
What is he going to tell them? What is he going to expect?
Coach Wooden looks at the team. He tells them to take their socks and shoes off. He asks them to put their socks back on. He tells them to try again. And again, and again. Finally, after a few tries, he shows them the proper way to put on basketball socks. (As described by Bill Walton). Snug over the toes, rolled over the center of the foot, then the heel, then pulled tight over the calves. The players do this over and over until the master putting their socks on.
Next, they put on their basketball shoes. They lace them up. Wooden tells them to try again, and again and again.
Finally, after a while, he shows them the proper way to put basketball shoes on. You put them on, then lace from the bottom up. One lace at a time. Pulling the bottom lace tight, then the next, then the next, until you reach the top – pull tight and tie. Imagine 15 of the best college basketball players of the time learning how to put socks and shoes on. Coach Wooden goes over this process again and again until the all master putting on their socks and shoes correctly.After the last person masters this process, Coach Wooden looks at his players and says, “You have now mastered the first fundamental of great basketball, putting your socks and shoes on correctly. Putting them on correctly will keep you from getting blisters. If you get blisters, you can not play basketball. No matter how great you think you are, with blisters on your feet, you are nothing.”
I saw this and about feel out of my chair!! (In fact, they were showing Bill Walton and others putting on their dress shoes today – they still did it Wooden’s way… every time.)
What a great metaphor to what we do. Without the proper fundamentals of Moe’s Single Axis Golf Swing – you’ve got nothin’ (As Moe even said, “Without a proper Set Up, you ain’t got nothin'”).
Couple of questions to ask yourself…
1. How good are your fundamentals? 2. Have you mastered the basic fundamentals of Moe’s Single Axis Swing? (Too many golfers get too tied up with details and forget about the fundamentals..)
Start with these fundamentals: 1. The grip. How good is your grip? Have you mastered the proper grip so as you are working on the rest of your swing, you are not compensating for an improper/poor grip?
To see more about the proper grip see our Online Instruction page and see the ‘Advanced Grip Instruction’ slideshow. If you have questions about your grip and want a check system – you might want to consider the training grip club.. we have sold 1000s of the clubs and it has done a lot of good for many who have used it. A wonderful check system to master the proper grip.
2. Set up. Next to look at is your set up. Is your lead arm above your trail? Is there a straight line from your lead shoulder to your club head? Is there a straight line (from the back view) from your club head through the lower part of your trail forearm?
To see more about proper set up see our Online Instruction page and see the “Posture and Stability / Ideal Setup slideshow.
3. Back Swing. Do you have a proper backswing. Is the club on plane in the backswing? Do you hinge you hands/wrists at the appropriate point?
To see more about proper back swing see our Online Instruction page and see the “Backswing” slideshow.
4. Impact – Are you facing ball at impact? Are your shoulders, knees and feet square to the ball at impact? Are your hips “open/turned” at impact? Are you hands leading the ball at impact?
To see more about the proper impact position, see our Online Instruction page and see the “Practicing with the Leverage Bag” slideshow.
These are core fundamentals of Moe’s Single Axis Swing. I bring these up again, because we see so many golfers (single axis golfers and others) who think they have certain problems in their swing, when it really comes down to improper fundamentals.
Proper fundamentals are a key to a consistent swing and consistent ball striking. Never ASSUME your fundamentals are good, check, check and check often.
A second part of Coach Wooden’s story surrounded his “Pyramid of Success”. This was an model he developed to breed/teach success in his players. It involved such things as Poise, Confidence, Condition, Skill, Self Control… a model in which is players/assistant coaches studied to condition success in themselves and the program. You can see the model at: http://graphics.ocsn.com/schools/ucla/graphics/pyramid-success-lg.gif
We at the GGA have created our own “Pyramid of Success” for our students. It is called our “7 Principles of Golf Improvement”.
Todd and I created the 7 principles to help our students find and have ongoing success/improvement in their golf games. Using the 7 principles is a method to work on the ENTIRE game, not just parts. Remember, you are only as good as your worst part of your game.
Review of the GGA 7 Principles of Golf Improvement:
1. Develop a Sound, Repeatable, Powerful Swing of Ease based on Moe Norman’s Golf Swing. (Single Plane / Straight Line Motion).
2. Develop an efficient Short Game (50% up and down).
3. Become a good Putter (Under 30 putts per round).
4. Build or buy Clubs That Fit your game.
5. Learn to Play on the course using developed skills. (Course Management).
6. Learn How to Practice efficiently.
7.Learn How to Think.
Where are your strengths? Where are your weaknesses? You must work on your ENTIRE game, not just parts if you want to see improvement.
This doesn’t mean you have to spend hours and hours every day, you need to speed focused practice on areas of current weaknesses in your game._Doing this, will show improvement – GUARANTEED.
To see more about our 7 principles please 7 Principles page on the website.
In conclusion – No matter whether you are learning basketball from a master coach like John Wooden, or trying to “shave a few strokes” off your game with the help of the Graves Golf Academy – there are common principles everyone must use to see consistent improvement that will “last” over time.
Some of these priniciples include – Mastering the Fundamentals. Without proper fundamentals, you will always be hoping or guessing?
Another is to have a method to getting better. Do you make it guess work? TOO MANY GOLFERS ARE HOPING AN WISHING TO GET BETTER WITH NO METHOD TO THEIR “MADNESS”. We suggest using our 7 Principles of Golf Improvement – a method to improving your entire game SIGNIFICANTLY.
If you are interested in our “Path to Great Golf” – Please see the suggested Path HERE .
We understand “Success” in their golf game is different for everyone. For one, it may be shooting a shot better than yesterday, for another it might be hitting it straight 2 times in a row, for a third it might be cutting their handicap in half in a couple of months. But, no matter your definition, YOU MUST HAVE A METHOD to get there. We ask you stop guessing, use our principles to golf improvement and start to see the results you are looking for.
Good Luck – Remember – Always Practice with a Purpose