Originally Posted by iacas
I don't think it is. 95% of the shots a player on the PGA Tour hits are the same shape. They just OWN that shape.
I agree and disagree. I was talking more about having the ability to do it, and practising it more off the course, over actually hitting different shapes on the course. I do agree that tour pro's hit a stock shot for the most part. But they also know how to manipulate things (if that is the word) to control their ball when certain patterns emerge. Most players who only have one shot, they get real stuck when that draw turns into a hook and they have no reference points to get the ball going more to the right. I see this all the time with players as good as +3. When they are good, they are very good, but when they are bad, they dont have any clue how to get something going. This changes when they REALLY learn shaping.
as an example, as a 4-7 handicap I used to play a big hook. Always. There is a distinct advantage to playing a singular shape, mentally mainly, you feel confident in your miss. But if it went wrong and turned into a hook or a push, I had no way of feeling something to bring that pattern under control. But after truly refining shaping, not only did my stock shot instinctively fly with less curvature, but when it went wrong, I could work out how to get it under control within a few shots, if not the very next shot (although I don't like to start changing stuff after just one bad shot, i look for a pattern first).
But I would say that it doesn't necessarily have to be a big part of their regime. once the skills have been achieved, they only need to re-visit it every so often. Most players never actually achieve those skills though, even very good players (I'm talking about refining the shapes, not just hitting them). With better players that I teach (have dealt with just over 100 players of handicap 5 to +3 for periods of longer than 3 months in most cases), we usually go through a periodisation, where they concentrate mainly on shaping and varying things, then as tournaments get closer they taper off the variables and get more work done on that ONE shape they like best. But the skills from the previous weeks remain as a conscious and subconscious tool. Maybe they are not as sharp with those shaping skills, but they are still there.
The best players, and ironically the most consistent players I see have the ability to vary things at their will better. This is quite paradoxical to think that variance leads to more consistency. Im sure I could provide a theory for this that matches up with what we believe about motor learning, but take it as anecdotal. Doing testing for IMG academies with the kids there, asking them to hit 50 fades into a target followed by 50 draws (alternating) followed by 50 stock shots (shape of choice) was interesting. The better players on the golf course (in terms of stats - fairways/greens etc - and consistency) were usually no better at hitting their stock shot into the target. But they excelled massively in the ability to shape the ball into their target. Some were good at all - these were the best players.
ironically again, was that most of the better shapers had no conscious reference for doing this - they were a lot of south americans with a very 'feel' or instinctive approach to it. They didn't even understand clubface and path, and would look bewildered when you asked them 'how did you curve the ball left? what did you change?'. On video, the differences in their swings were huge between the fade and draw. different path, plane, arm movement, body sequence etc etc etc. Maybe this also gives us some insights into which is the best way to learn golf - consciously controlled body parts, or feelings and task led exercises. Obviously it is different for everyone and others have differing time constraints - but if you are trying to get to scratch golf and are practising a lot, maybe there is a better way to do it.