For many years, a debate has been conducted by the "gurus" in the golf community.
Is the golf swing best served by use of the arms and hands, or by controlling the body movements?
With my 42 years of teaching experience, I like to think I've heard just about every theory concerning the golf swing.
Unfortunately, for the many aspiring students of the game, confusion abounds and improvement is curtailed.
As I've stated in past articles, my ambition has been to clarify and make the golf swing as simple as possible. In this high-tech world we live in, simplicity tends to be considered not valid or there's not enough information offered. I'll always try to impart the most basic of ideas available to develop a good working golf swing.
The hands and arms control the proper path and plane, while the body (used correctly) plays a supporting role and adds force to the delivery of the club. It's the job of a competent teaching professional to access the student's ability and physical attributes and make the best decision on how to help.
One of my favorite questions to ask a student is, "What part of the body hits the ball?" The question is a "trick" to help make a point. The answer is, the club hits the ball. My job is to find the best way to get the student to deliver the club that produces consistent results.
Factors such as age, flexibility and athletic competence are considered to provide a good working program of improvement.
As a general rule of thumb, the older and less flexible a golfer is, the more I might focus on good use of the hands and arms. In this case, the body plays a minor role of support and little in creating power.
Working with a much younger, more flexible person, my approach will be to "connect" the body to the arms and hands to maximize all of their available energy.
This assessment of the student's potential will always be priority No. 1 in planning a successful learning experience.
As I've said many times before, we must crawl before we run during the early stages of development. This means hitting small chip and pitch shots while gaining a feel for the swinging motion. The hands and arms will be more involved, supplying most of the energy with these small important shots.
Once some skill evolves, we can now add the body to the action to provide a greater range of movement, yielding more distance with good control. Learning in this manner almost always produces the best and fastest rate of improvement.
So many golfers want to haul out the driver and whale away. Hey, it might be fun for the moment, but you won't gain much in building your skills.
My best advice to all students is to seek the counsel of a PGA teacher and let them plan a program suited just for you. You'll be glad you did. Yours for better golf.
Del Starks is a PGA teaching professional at Abacoa Golf Club in Jupiter. Contact him at (561) 262-0708, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.delstarks.com.
Editor's note: This is Mr. Starks last column for Hometown News. He's on to pursue other adventures. We'd like to thank him for his advice and his faithfulness in writing a column week in and week out over these many months. We wish him well.