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Can one be a truly good golfer (<3 handicap) if they are also a good tennis player (5.0+)?

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 

All,

 

I've been researching this for quite some time and have finally reached the conclusion that my tennis (I play frequently and is currently 5.0, formerly college Div1 level) is basically capping my golf game. Right now in golf, my handicap is about a 7 and typically get in 1 round a week and 2 range sessions. Since I picked up golf about 6 years ago, I've been consistently working on the game (studying golf swings, doing drills at the range, short game, putting etc.) and have a fair good understanding of the golf swing.

 

I understand there are many similarities between the golf swing and tennis strokes, but what I have found are the following inhibitors by tennis on golf:

 

1.  Tennis players with open stance on their forehands rotate their hips laterally from right to left, not transferring weight forward. If this is translated to the golf swing, this causes the OTT move and lack of weight transfer to the left side. It took me about 3 months of drills recently to "control" this early and fast hip rotation, but still requires regular maintenance and continuous focus when I am playing a round. The minute I forget to focus on this during a round, my right arm dominates and major slice...often resulting in a couple of doubles or even triple in my round as this tends top happen at the worst moments (tee shots!)

 

2.  Tennis players are constantly on their toes...again, when translated to my golf swing, this caused me to regularly shift my weight to my toes/balls of my feet on the downsing resulting in the OTT move/shank.

 

3.  Tennis (like most sports) is very much a reactive sport. I still have not found an good mental cues to reverse this to golf.

 

Other research data points:

1.  There have been a number of current and retired golf pros that play good golf:

     Ivan Lendl (I think he even qualified for the Senior Tour)

2.  Mardy Fish-current pro and scratch golfer

3.  Pete Sampras

4.  Rafael Nadal...

 

And so, here is the key point about these tennis pros...they all play tennis opposite to their dominate tennis hand. Lendl and Fish golfs left handed. Nadal who plays tennis left handed, but golfs right handed. I remember Lendl mentioned once that his right side was so dominant, the only way to get the pulling sensation was to play left handed. 

 

Right now, my frustration is that I feel I have reached the ceiling in my golf game placed on by my tennis game and the only way to reach my potential in golf is to start over and play left handed...which I am willing to do, but would appreciate feedback/advice from anyone who has reached the same conclusions I have.

 

All thoughts appreciated.

post #2 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by ProgolferLiu View Post
 

All,

 

I've been researching this for quite some time and have finally reached the conclusion that my tennis (I play frequently and is currently 5.0, formerly college Div1 level) is basically capping my golf game. Right now in golf, my handicap is about a 7 and typically get in 1 round a week and 2 range sessions. Since I picked up golf about 6 years ago, I've been consistently working on the game (studying golf swings, doing drills at the range, short game, putting etc.) and have a fair good understanding of the golf swing.

 

I understand there are many similarities between the golf swing and tennis strokes, but what I have found are the following inhibitors by tennis on golf:

 

1.  Tennis players with open stance on their forehands rotate their hips laterally from right to left, not transferring weight forward. If this is translated to the golf swing, this causes the OTT move and lack of weight transfer to the left side. It took me about 3 months of drills recently to "control" this early and fast hip rotation, but still requires regular maintenance and continuous focus when I am playing a round. The minute I forget to focus on this during a round, my right arm dominates and major slice...often resulting in a couple of doubles or even triple in my round as this tends top happen at the worst moments (tee shots!)

 

2.  Tennis players are constantly on their toes...again, when translated to my golf swing, this caused me to regularly shift my weight to my toes/balls of my feet on the downsing resulting in the OTT move/shank.

 

3.  Tennis (like most sports) is very much a reactive sport. I still have not found an good mental cues to reverse this to golf.

 

Other research data points:

1.  There have been a number of current and retired golf pros that play good golf:

     Ivan Lendl (I think he even qualified for the Senior Tour)

2.  Mardy Fish-current pro and scratch golfer

3.  Pete Sampras

4.  Rafael Nadal...

 

And so, here is the key point about these tennis pros...they all play tennis opposite to their dominate tennis hand. Lendl and Fish golfs left handed. Nadal who plays tennis left handed, but golfs right handed. I remember Lendl mentioned once that his right side was so dominant, the only way to get the pulling sensation was to play left handed. 

 

Right now, my frustration is that I feel I have reached the ceiling in my golf game placed on by my tennis game and the only way to reach my potential in golf is to start over and play left handed...which I am willing to do, but would appreciate feedback/advice from anyone who has reached the same conclusions I have.

 

All thoughts appreciated.


Just my opinion (because you are a heck of a lot better tennis player than I am) but I think you are putting way too much stock in taking the right hand out of your golf swing. The correct motion doesn't have to be over the top, and I can't imagine a decent tennis forehand on a low ground stroke coming after an over the top move without driving it right into the net.

 

That said there has been an ongoing debate in golf for many, many years (even among instructors) which hand is the more optimum dominant hand in the swing.

 

On another note: Of course it would be very hard to get to an elite level in two sports that require that much practice.

post #3 of 22
Other than the time aspect, I don't see either one hindering the other.
post #4 of 22
If you're playing both simultaneously, I agree, that the real challenge lies in the amount of time that either sport takes to achieve, and maintain that level of performance.

If you split seasons, or turn to golf after your competitive tennis days are behind you, I wouldn't anticipate any more difficulty than anyone else would have. I'll offer though, just because someone excels at one sport, doesn't guarantee they'll excel at another. Golf in particular is just damn hard.....

Welcome to the site! c2_beer.gif
post #5 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by David in FL View Post

Golf in particular is just damn hard.....

^^^ I second that. :beer: 

 

There are only so many hours in a day and so many completely different skills to master.

 

You only need the power of a lumberjack. Then be able to flip a switch and become an artist. Then flip another switch and have the steady hands of a brain surgeon...Simple enough. :-D

post #6 of 22
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the quick responses. The flipping the switch from lumberjack to surgeon analogy really hit me in the head right after reading it. Tennis has been ingrained in my body since my childhood and I can still play at a fairly high level even without regular practice as long as I stay in shape. I was hoping that my golf would eventually become just as "automatic". My golf improved the most in the about 18 months ago since taking it seriously and really trying to understand the golf swing, but again, the most frustrating part is hitting a plateau the last 6-9 months or so with no perceived improvement. The stats I keep from my rounds do indicate when I have my blowup holes it's typically a result of a nasty slice caused by a lack of weight transfer on the downswing...again, usually as a result of my "automatic" fast hip rotation from tennis :(

 

This led me to do a bit of research on tennis players who picked up golf and the only conclusion I can draw is that they played golf left handed (for righties). Next time at the range, I may just borrow a couple of lefty clubs at the clubhouse and give it a shot. At this point, I don't mind starting over as long as playing lefty will remove the "tennis cap" on my golf game. 

 

Thanks!

post #7 of 22

Don't forget Matt Kuchar, who started out in the juniors and then switched to golf.

 

IMHO, I don't think tennis is holding you back, golf is less intuitive than tennis, a really good instructor should be able to guide you over your wall.

post #8 of 22
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the responses. Fundamentally, I think my swing is fairly solid according to video and swingvest analysis. The challenge for me has been to continuously try to not allow my tennis tendencies (fast hip rotations, flat shoulders, and weight on toes tendencies) to all of a sudden pop up during a round. This has been disastrous for me. My scorecards are littered with lots of pars, few birdies AND doubles with a sprinkle of triple.

 

I was able to get out to the range this past weekend and took a few swings with a left handed 6-iron and driver. Obviously, very very awkward at first, but I can definitely feel much more of a pulling effect by my right side (now my dominant front side swinging left handed). When I did connect, they were equal to if not better feeling than any right handed shots I've hit. This feels absolutely just like my single handed backhand in tennis. Most likely at this point, I may just hold off on any more hitting left handed until the golf/tennis season is over and go at it in the winter. 

post #9 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by ProgolferLiu View Post
 

All,

 

I've been researching this for quite some time and have finally reached the conclusion that my tennis (I play frequently and is currently 5.0, formerly college Div1 level) is basically capping my golf game. Right now in golf, my handicap is about a 7 and typically get in 1 round a week and 2 range sessions. Since I picked up golf about 6 years ago, I've been consistently working on the game (studying golf swings, doing drills at the range, short game, putting etc.) and have a fair good understanding of the golf swing.

 

I understand there are many similarities between the golf swing and tennis strokes, but what I have found are the following inhibitors by tennis on golf:

 

1.  Tennis players with open stance on their forehands rotate their hips laterally from right to left, not transferring weight forward. If this is translated to the golf swing, this causes the OTT move and lack of weight transfer to the left side. It took me about 3 months of drills recently to "control" this early and fast hip rotation, but still requires regular maintenance and continuous focus when I am playing a round. The minute I forget to focus on this during a round, my right arm dominates and major slice...often resulting in a couple of doubles or even triple in my round as this tends top happen at the worst moments (tee shots!)

 

2.  Tennis players are constantly on their toes...again, when translated to my golf swing, this caused me to regularly shift my weight to my toes/balls of my feet on the downsing resulting in the OTT move/shank.

 

3.  Tennis (like most sports) is very much a reactive sport. I still have not found an good mental cues to reverse this to golf.

 

Other research data points:

1.  There have been a number of current and retired golf pros that play good golf:

     Ivan Lendl (I think he even qualified for the Senior Tour)

2.  Mardy Fish-current pro and scratch golfer

3.  Pete Sampras

4.  Rafael Nadal...

 

And so, here is the key point about these tennis pros...they all play tennis opposite to their dominate tennis hand. Lendl and Fish golfs left handed. Nadal who plays tennis left handed, but golfs right handed. I remember Lendl mentioned once that his right side was so dominant, the only way to get the pulling sensation was to play left handed. 

 

Right now, my frustration is that I feel I have reached the ceiling in my golf game placed on by my tennis game and the only way to reach my potential in golf is to start over and play left handed...which I am willing to do, but would appreciate feedback/advice from anyone who has reached the same conclusions I have.

 

All thoughts appreciated.

Hi Liu

 

Great observations!.i have been tennis very often this past year and notice that some compatibilities and hinderances too

 

1) Tennis is a reactive sport. I played hockey, badminton, baseball and those are very reactive as well.

The mindset in golf is more like free throws in basketball, shooting pool or bowling. More actionary then reactionary. I find the best golfer seem to be a bit autisic in their own little world. 

Whereas the better tennis players are more outward competitive even if they seem quiet.

 

2) As far as the righty /lefty thing , You might on something. I recall a pro tennis player Scott Draper from Australia also played minitour golf . He was lefty tennis player but I think he swing right in golf . I also feel the onehanded backhand is similiar to a draw in golf.

 

3) As far as the golf swing is concern. I find it more difficult to learn golf  than learning tennis. I given up on the idea there is a prototype golf swing. I see Fed playing and he has a lot of different shots, I think that is  what golf is like a bunch of diifferent shots. In the tennis the net /court dimension are always the same. You really have to adjust to your playing opponent. In golf I feel like I have to adjust to what the course gives me. Against a net rusher, I can go lob or try a good passing shot. Against a dogleg right, I have to slice/fade or block my hook to the right, 

Against a good baseliner, I can play defensive and go CC all day or/and wait for a floater to go inside/out or DTL winner.  On very severe sloping green 15 footer, I can play passive and lag it to the hole or/and  try to be  bold and try to hole and be 5 feet past the hole. That's what i see as challenge, the golf course rather than the opponent.

post #10 of 22

I played tennis for 6 years, 5 to 6 times per week, back then they rated by letter, i.e A, B, C,,ect. I was a  B-. And for me going to golf some years later, I had a big problem with the flat shoulder thing, even to this day it will rear it's ugly head sometimes, especially with driver.  

post #11 of 22
Thread Starter 
I was having a pretty good round today keeping my elbows connected and maintaining spine angle until after impact. I was also consciously keeping my head behind the ball. Then all of a sudden I lost focus on the 12th hole, came up too early in the downswing leading to horizontal shoulders (very natural tennis forehand), sliced and ob off the tee. Resulted in a triple. Snap hooked the next tee shot...got away with a bogey. Sliced the one after that to a 225 yards par 3...another triple. All in all, I walked off the course with an 81 which could have been much better. It's definitely been a frustrating journey for me the past 9 months. I also noticed my tennis tendencies are more pronounced if I play a round after tennis without any range time to get the golf feel back.
post #12 of 22

One of the things I find that in tennis , I could be playing poor , but if my opponent played worse, I could still win and gain points and move on.

Cant do that in golf as its mostly stroke play and not match play.  my barrier in scoring is putting inside 15 feet and shot selection from 80-140 yard range.

post #13 of 22
I used to play very competive tennis when I was a lad. I was a power player. I never played a forehand with an open stance unless I had to as a reaction. I closed my left shoulder whenever possible.

Tennis is a fast game and you don't have to be s precise with your swing. The racket is pretty massive. Golf is a slow game. That clubface is pretty small.

Swing your golf club like you would your second serve. Also, you probably have a very firm tennis grip. A firm golf grip with a fast swing will result in a lot of sliced OB shots.

I never had a rating. Played in the 70's. But I never lost a match in the last 3 years I played. And I played every day, all day. Probably means I played mostly chumps. :)

In golf, I was as low as a 0 HCP, but now I'm a 5 because of a torn rotator cuff. It will lower now that it has "healed".

Ps, I was a professional bowler (regionals only) back in the day as well. 225 average back before the days of blocked lanes. Bowlers will know what I'm talking about. Got out of that sport when I tore a tendon in my ring finger. Hurts to this day and that was 30 years ago.
post #14 of 22

I know bout blocked lanes. our local bowling center was Famous for them..:-D

post #15 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hammer 4 View Post

I know bout blocked lanes. our local bowling center was Famous for them..a3_biggrin.gif
I don't know what that means?? (Probably because I wasn't a bowler prior to about 5 years ago??)
post #16 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by vangator View Post

Swing your golf club like you would your second serve. Also, you probably have a very firm tennis grip. A firm golf grip with a fast swing will result in a lot of sliced OB shots.

 

No it won't. Swinging well to the left with a face pointing well open to that path would cause that.

 


 

Is the topic of this thread really if you can be good at two sports at once? Without being Bo Jackson, anyway?

 

Isn't the answer somewhat obvious?

post #17 of 22
Thread Starter 

I wanted to hear opinions from folks to see if two different sports could be inhibiting one another. As of now, I am concluding that tennis does make it more difficult for me to be good at golf because of the movements that a relatively high level tennis player requires. IE... fast hips, flat shoulders, staying on toes, etc. This harkens back to my high school tennis days where our coach forbid us from playing racketball or badminton due to their more wristy actions. However, I do feel the one handed backhand shot in tennis can be very beneficial if I play golf left handed (dominant hand on top).

 

Thanks for all the different ideas!

post #18 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by ProgolferLiu View Post
 

I wanted to hear opinions from folks to see if two different sports could be inhibiting one another. As of now, I am concluding that tennis does make it more difficult for me to be good at golf because of the movements that a relatively high level tennis player requires. IE... fast hips, flat shoulders, staying on toes, etc. This harkens back to my high school tennis days where our coach forbid us from playing racketball or badminton due to their more wristy actions. However, I do feel the one handed backhand shot in tennis can be very beneficial if I play golf left handed (dominant hand on top).

 

Thanks for all the different ideas!

 

I'm always looking for a good excuse.  Think I'll use this too......   :beer:

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