In the last few years there has been an explosion of Internet golf instruction. It started as a small movement mostly on forums, and now has grown to a point where individual instructors now have their own sites and forums dedicated to instruction. What has sparked this wildfire you say? Simple answer? The slow motion video camera.
When I was growing up, I was quite lucky to essentially live on a range. I worked at the course washing carts so I would get free range balls. Many of the pros who worked in the shop would come out and give me some lessons. During this period, the pro would watch your swing a few times, give you a few pointers and then be on his way.
I would go on hitting hundreds of balls and after a while I would go back to having many of the same problems. I could never understand why. Today I know, without a camera to track my improvement I would slip back into all the bad habits I developed and never really improve.
I first learned about using a camera during a scramble I played in right out of college. This local pro set up his camera and sent everyone a DVD of their swing with his thoughts on things I could on to improve. It was the first time I had seen my swing on video and I was amazed. This camera wasn't even slow motion, but there were so many things I could see that I could improve on. The irony in that story is that I went to go see that pro for a follow-up lesson and we never used the camera in any of the three follow-up lessons I took.
For a few years after college I played awful golf. I took more lessons the old fashion way with no video and got even worse. I was hitting every shot off the toe, the ball would go up in the air looking like a good shot and then fall to the earth 10-15 yards short of its target. It was like a shank, but a little more playable. I was around a 10 handicap and this was only due to the fact that I had a world class short game. I would hit 1-2 greens a round and still shoot 80.
I struggled with this toe shot until I read a Golf Digest article about Stack and Tilt. I went to a group lesson taught by Mike Bennett and everything he did with me that day was with his camera. I was completely hooked by how many professional swings he had on his computer and how many of them were in very high frame rates where you could see details that I had never considered and compare them to my swing. I left the lesson completely hooked on the idea of using a camera for everything I would do from that day on.
The golf instruction journey that I have been on since that group lesson has had many ups and downs, but the ability to capture my swing on video has been unbelievable critical in improving my game. When an coach gives me a piece of advice I can easily watch swings of professional golfers to see if he/she is full of poppycock. This has saved me an enormous amount of time following paths that don't make any sense. Now with the great comparison software that is out there I can compare my swing against those same pros and find new things to work on and new areas to explore.
Some folks who don't use a camera might argue that Ben Hogan, Byron Nelson, and other greats never used a camera. Also many golfers throughout history got really good without a camera. I cannot argue with that, my only rock solid evidence is my own improvement. Before my lesson with Mr. Bennett I was a lost ten handicap, now today I am a four. I practice even less than I did when I was a ten because I have a young daughter and very little free time. But when I do practice on the range and you see a guy with a camera set up it might just be me. Sure I get some strange looks, and many people will ask my why I would do that, but my answer is very simple, how do I know if I am doing what I think I am doing without checking it on video. Most people agree that without the evidence of video it is hard to know if one is making any improvement.
The readers of The Sand Trap forum are a very lucky bunch, because one of the most knowledgeable people regarding cameras for golf swings posts on this forum. Erik J. Barzeski is one of the most knowledgeable people for not only the cameras themselves but the software to analyze. We're all very lucky to be able to pick his brain. If you want to get better in my opinion there is no better way than to invest in a nice camera and take it with you to the range and enjoy the journey. Just follow these guidelines to film your swings consistently, and you'll be on your way!
Photo credits: © Lucy Nicholson.