Historically, India had great sportsmen and the importance of systematic instruction was known and acknowledged even during the Mahabharata. Arjun and Dronacharya, after whom our national awards for sporting excellence and teaching excellence are named, is perhaps one of the early examples of how good coaching can produce world-beaters.
Indian golf is also coming of age and good instruction is available within the country today. Those players who make the effort to receive good instruction, create for themselves the possibility of playing well and thereby enjoy the sport and their association with it. They are also in a better position to make more money.
Some of the most repeated comments that you can hear from the pros are:
- “Golf is an easy game, once you get the basics right.”
- “The more I practice, the better I seem to get.”
- “I learnt right and that’s why I was able to build a solid game and not waste my time relearning.”
- “Whenever my game goes off, I revert to the basics.”
- “At the beginning of each season, I spend time with Jack to review the fundamentals.”
Above comments from some of world’s leading golfers provide an insight as to what is required to be a good player.
Necessary skills required:
As a sport to be enjoyed and played well, golf requires a range of skills which need to be developed along with an ability to manage them. These skills are:
- Good ball striking skills
- Good putting skills
- Good golf course management skills
- Mental strength
A good golf coach will work with a player on all these elements at some stage or the other on the basis of the priority that he allocates to each element relative to the pupil.
But before we get to coaching, let me divulge some basic understanding about the game that everybody must have:
The Fundamental Truth about playing golf:
- Golf is all about making a good score on whichever course you are playing on.
- To do so, it all boils down to the ability of a player to play a shot as he visualises it.
- Of course, this assumes that he has a realistic expectation of his abilities.
It comes down further to the ability of the player to be able to play shots consistently. Which essentially means, being able to play a shot similar to the one played earlier by the same club, or as visualised.
A player who has the ability to ‘hit each shot with any given club the same distance, with an identical trajectory and in the same direction’, will be in a position to get the ball close to the target each time. He will thereby have the opportunity to make a good score.
How does this happen?
To hit the ball with any club in the same direction, the same distance and in the same trajectory each time, requires one essential truth – that the relationship between the clubface and the ball at the impact point be such that the ball receives the same energy each time, is launched in the same angle each time and is also directed and has spin which makes it fly identically each time. This is called the “moment of truth” by many.
Whatever the swing may appear to be and look like, if the “moment of truth” is identical each time, each shot will be identical.
This is assuming that golf balls and the conditions in which the shot is played, are identical.
How to make it happen?
Over a period of time it has been seen that the human body is so structured bio-mechanically that if one has some correct basics, like axioms in geometry, the probability of two “moments of truth” becoming identical is increased substantially and two identical shots become a possibility.
These basics are:
- Using the right muscle groups
- Completion of the swing each time
- Watching the ball in the process of executing the shot
If a player is able to get his basics right, then a very simple thought process becomes adequate for good shot making.
A good golf coach is one who understands his pupil and communicates to him theoretically, kinesthetically and demonstratively and in any other way that he may use the methods of building the right basics.
Also, the pupil must remember that good coaching is a two-way process where the coach and the student work as partners in developing a golf game.
Tips to a beginner:M/h2>
Find a good coach and trust him. Follow his advice.
It must be remembered that the initial memories and “feel” that are developed are very important and also very difficult to change later. If the right memories of the right actions are developed initially, one has a good start and opportunity to play well. It is imperative to build the right muscle memories in the beginning itself. This can happen only by following the advice of your coach appropriately.
Ensure the basics are correctly built up, even though it may take more time and one may not see results immediately.
A little extra time spent on developing right habits and basics will go a long way in supporting a player in his desire to play well and enjoy the sport.
Learn the rules and etiquette of golf.
Commitments from a beginner which will play better:
Golf is a game of paradoxes, very often the “feeling” one has about what needs to be done is entirely different from the actual requirements of what needs to be done. Therefore, make an effort to understand why your coach has asked you to do something and then follow his advice.
Golf requires the use of muscles that are normally not used in daily living. They are soft and need to be toned in the beginning. Simple exercises done along with the golf training will help a beginner learn faster and better.
Golf can be very addictive once learnt. It can also be equally frustrating during the learning stage. Be patient. Believe me, it’s extremely rewarding.
Make sure that you look after your body. Warm up before playing golf is imperative.
Make sure that you dress comfortably and wear good shoes and socks.
Equipment requirements for a beginner:
Good equipment has become fairly cheap now and is available in India. A beginner can get hold of a decent learning set from any part of the country. He could also get hold of a half set to get the initial few lessons going and then, based on his professional’s advise, procure one for his regular use.
A good pair of shoes is a must and loose, comfortable clothing an asset.
The beginner can procure a pair of gloves as well. The hands are going to get blisters at some stage and good gloves, besides assisting in the grip, also make the process of getting conditioned a little easier.
Every lesson learnt from the professional must be practiced to build the right muscle memory.
The age-old credo is that ‘Practice makes Perfect’. This needs to be modified to state: ‘Correct Practice makes Perfect’.
The worst mistake that any beginner can make at the early stages of learning golf is to be too concerned about the results of his shots. On the other hand, he should ensure that he concentrates on his basics at that stage.
The anxiety to get results and to watch the ball in motion actually creates it’s own set of mistakes which start getting ingrained. The player should be careful regarding this.
The correct thing to do while learning is to ensure that one concentrates on getting the basics right. Let that be the measured result of each practice session, and not the number of balls hit during he session. This is easier said than done and is perhaps the toughest part of the learning process because it is automatic and natural to expect results quickly. In reality, it can be detrimental to the process of learning.
The advantage of golf is that it is a game, which can be enjoyed by a person of any age and any fitness level. That is perhaps the reason why we see so many elderly people playing the sport as against any other sport.
However, good golf, like any other sport, requires a high degree of fitness. One need not look any further that our own top Indian golfers. The leading players like Jeev Milkha Singh and Jyoti Randhawa have fitness levels and fitness regimes that will do any top-level sportsman in any other sporting discipline, proud. Besides having worked hard on developing very fit and supple muscles, these players have very good stamina.
It is also an acknowledged fact that both these players realise the importance of mental fitness and have their individual programmes to work on it. Overall fitness gives these players an edge and it is not surprising that they win more than others.
Fitness training in golf will give the players the opportunity to play better and also have low risk of any injury.
The best way to sharpen your game is to compete, which is true for any sport. The recent growth of golf in the country has also seen a spurt in the number of golf tournaments.
To enter any event, one should get in touch with the golf club most convenient to them and inquire the process of entering.