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Diece

Learning through feel, or mechanics?

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I've been thinking about this a lot lately.

My game only really improved this year when I dropped mechanics and set out to learn the game through feel.

Doing this I went from a 9/8 to about a 1/2. Breaking par a few times in the process as well.

In fact, my best round to date where I shot 70 the only things I thought about was 

- Steady head

- Weight shift

I'm sure we're all familiar with the phrase "What you feel isn't what's actually happening." Which dispels that feel is important, Hogan even said that "If you did the exact opposite of what you feel, you'd probably make a pretty good swing." I don't remember the exact quote though but it was something like that.

But, then Sam Snead says that if he tried to complicate the game with mechanics he'd never be half as good a player as he was. 

Which made me think.

If you want to learn how to swing the club and hit the ball solidly, you either have to learn entirely by feel or through mechanics.

You can't mix the two. When you mix the two you're not getting the full picture whereas if you stick to just one, you can put the clubhead in the proper positions. 

Think about it,

If you learn how to hit the ball solid and you've learned by feel, you're going to know what you have to "Feel" in your body to create the proper result but you don't know why it works. You just know how to put it there and that's it. 

However, I believe that most average players would be better off if they focused more on mechanics. 

I'm curious what others think of this.

Do you agree?

Do you disagree?

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17 minutes ago, Diece said:

If you want to learn how to swing the club and hit the ball solidly, you either have to learn entirely by feel or through mechanics.

You can't mix the two.

This simply isn't possible. Of course you have 'feel.' It's just that this component is different for everyone. The key is finding what feel brings you to a functional position. If you've reviewed the 5 Keys then you have the core requirements of being a good golfer. Why those keys? Because regardless of how they're achieved (Furyk, Moore, Garcia, Johnson, etc...) those 5 Keys are all present in every one of their swings and every other tour player as well. You have to know what mechanic you're trying to achieve to determine if what you 'feel' will provide you with a consistent golf swing. For example you probably felt good hitting those balls with your 2 iron on the video sent. But you're coming over the top. So the mechanic aspect for you to work on is bringing the club back more upright to encourage shallowing the downswing so that you approach the ball on a dynamic angle. Now how that move 'feels' to you is yours alone. 

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1 minute ago, Vinsk said:

This simply isn't possible. Of course you have 'feel.' It's just that this component is different for everyone. The key is finding what feel brings you to a functional position. If you've reviewed the 5 Keys then you have the core requirements of being a good golfer. Why those keys? Because regardless of how they're achieved (Furyk, Moore, Garcia, Johnson, etc...) those 5 Keys are all present in every one of their swings and every other tour player as well. You have to know what mechanic you're trying to achieve to determine if what you 'feel' will provide you with a consistent golf swing. For example you probably felt good hitting those balls with your 2 iron on the video sent. But you're coming over the top. So the mechanic aspect for you to work on is bringing the club back more upright to encourage shallowing the downswing so that you approach the ball on a dynamic angle. Now how that move 'feels' to you is yours alone. 

Interesting,

I see where you're coming from. I wonder how players before video and technology learned the game since feel isn't really real.

I guess you could have a teacher watch you but the swing is pretty fast, hard to see specific positions in real-time.

The more I think about it, I think feel or mechanics can't be completely disregarded but definitely one should be dominant. Feel more dominant than mechanics and vice versa.

Also, I don't feel very good over the ball typically and even through it. I've always said to my brother (who also wants to play pro) that my swing and address often feel terrible but the result are good.

I don't do what "feels" good to me, I focus on the feel that gives me the best results. 

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2 minutes ago, Diece said:

I wonder how players before video and technology learned the game since feel isn't really real.

Well there was still instruction from mirrors and observation. It's just that what these players thought they were doing they often weren't. Just like Jack Nicklaus saying 'swing like you're standing in a barrel.' He felt that's what he was doing but video obviously shows that wasn't true at all. His lead hip bump toward the target would've crashed out the side of the barrel. And 'feel ain't real' doesn't mean the feel is wrong. It's just not a good way to try to teach as often times what you feel you are doing you're not. This is why so much bad instruction made it's way into the game. Great players would say 'this is what I do' and people took it as gold. But video has shown that many times the player wasn't doing what he said he was doing. 

3 minutes ago, Diece said:

I focus on the feel that gives me the best results.

You can have good results from an OTT swing. But you won't be able to play competitive golf with that fault. It causes too much inconsistency when your ball striking requires that much accuracy at that level.

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In my opinion, today's technology has only improved on yesteryear's technology. 

All the great golfers of past history learned how to play tour level golf based on what they knew about the swing back then. 

Was it mechanics, or was it feel? My guess is it was a little of both for the old timers. Perhaps the mechanics part created the feel part for them. 

I think it was de la Torre (?) who said that one's ball flight tells them everything they need to know about their swing. The better golfers, and/or instructors knew how fix poor ball flights back then. 

Yesterday's golfers had their own data as to why bad shots, or good shots happened. Alot of hat data is probably obsolete today, but back then, that's what worked for those golfers who excelled in the sport. 

Myself, back in the mid 70s, when I took up playing golf, my swing guru was all about having a good, consistent impact position between the club face and the ball. It mattered little how the golfer arrived at that correct impact position. 

Edited by Patch

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I'm more in line with the usual "on the practice range learn what good mechanics feels like and use that feel to produce the mechanics on the course".

 

 

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6 hours ago, Diece said:

If you learn how to hit the ball solid and you've learned by feel, you're going to know what you have to "Feel" in your body to create the proper result but you don't know why it works. You just know how to put it there and that's it.

Feel is how we translate mechanics into movement. Everyone is a feel player.

What you're describing sounds more like trying to figure out how to play by natural athleticism (feel) versus working to improve specific pieces to improve the swing (mechanics). Very few people are capable of the former.

It doesn't surprise me that Snead belongs to the first school and Hogan, the second. Snead was a very gifted athlete. Hogan had to work hard to build his swing.

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If you're working on mechanics, its best to have another person help. A knowledgeable player or instructor etc. A good one will work with you to translate that mechanical work into feel for you.  If you're working on self teaching the golf-swing, feel is probably more important aside from fundamental setup things like posture, alignment, and grip. 

Im primarily self taught, and i did it mostly through the feel and feedback my body gave me. My swing a little quirky and doesn't look all that pretty from aesthetics POV, but it works for me.  I have somebody help me with my posture and alignment, which are the biggest swing faults i make at this point. The swing motion itself is almost entirely feel for me. 

 

Edited by Groucho Valentine

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11 minutes ago, Groucho Valentine said:

If you're working on mechanics, its best to have another person help. A knowledgeable player or instructor etc. A good one will work with you to translate that mechanical work into feel for you.

They might have a wider assortment of feel concepts to throw at you. A person can work through what feels work best. A lot of times, it's a back and forth conversation with the instructor. I agree, an competent instructor helps a lot.

14 minutes ago, Groucho Valentine said:

 If you're working on self teaching the golf-swing, feel is probably more important aside from fundamental setup things like posture, alignment, and grip. 

Posture, alignment, and grip are not fundamentals. There is no standard that all great golfers have gone to. You have PGA Tour players who aimed open, square or closed. You have golfers who have had a combination of weak, neutral, strong, interlocking, overlapping, double overlapping grips. Maybe the only thing close to a fundamental is a certain aspect to posture, not having your back straight as a board, with your head up. Though it was a popular teaching point, yet most PGA Tour players do not do this.

Here is the thing. Every golfer is a feel golfer and a mechanical golfer. If you don't have the proper mechanics, you will struggle. Even self taught golfers achieve competency in the 5 things great golfers do. Steady head, weight forward at Impact, hand's inline with the clubhead at impact, diagonal sweet spot path, and clubface control. Every golfer have feels that give them the mechanics to do these things. Every golfer needs to develop the feels that work. Just because someone is ignorant of what their swing is actually doing, does not divide them to one camp or the other.

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22 minutes ago, saevel25 said:

They might have a wider assortment of feel concepts to throw at you. A person can work through what feels work best. A lot of times, it's a back and forth conversation with the instructor. I agree, an competent instructor helps a lot.

Posture, alignment, and grip are not fundamentals. There is no standard that all great golfers have gone to. You have PGA Tour players who aimed open, square or closed. You have golfers who have had a combination of weak, neutral, strong, interlocking, overlapping, double overlapping grips. Maybe the only thing close to a fundamental is a certain aspect to posture, not having your back straight as a board, with your head up. Though it was a popular teaching point, yet most PGA Tour players do not do this.

Here is the thing. Every golfer is a feel golfer and a mechanical golfer. If you don't have the proper mechanics, you will struggle. Even self taught golfers achieve competency in the 5 things great golfers do. Steady head, weight forward at Impact, hand's inline with the clubhead at impact, diagonal sweet spot path, and clubface control. Every golfer have feels that give them the mechanics to do these things. Every golfer needs to develop the feels that work. Just because someone is ignorant of what their swing is actually doing, does not divide them to one camp or the other.

Sure they are. The specifics of what a player does there can vary of course, but your grip posture and alignment is the fundamental base of your swing. Get that wrong and whatever you do after fails. For some people, swinging the club is just pure instinct. I think im one of those people. I never consciously worked on any of the mechanical things that is said that all good players do. 

I was talking to somebody about the golf swing this summer, and he wanted to know what i do while i take the club back. I told him and he looked completely confused. For me, it feels like i push my biceps out in front of me when i take the club away, and then they point strait up at the sky at the top. It feels like my hands are pulling my shoulders back away from me while my left leg is going in the other direction.  Thats probably not what happens, but it what he feels like to me. My friend tried that and proceeded to hit 5 strait worm burners. 

Edited by Groucho Valentine

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9 hours ago, Diece said:

My game only really improved this year when I dropped mechanics and set out to learn the game through feel.

That doesn't make sense.

Mechanics are how you move. The definition is literally "the way in which something is done." You can't just stand there, unmoving, think about a "feel," and play golf.

Everyone playing golf has "mechanics" and to improve as a player, they have to improve those mechanics (outside of green reading and game planning).

9 hours ago, Diece said:

Doing this I went from a 9/8 to about a 1/2. Breaking par a few times in the process as well.

I don't think, based on posts you've made, that this "change" is the only thing you did.

9 hours ago, Diece said:

In fact, my best round to date where I shot 70 the only things I thought about was 

- Steady head

- Weight shift

Aren't those "mechanics"?

9 hours ago, Diece said:

I'm sure we're all familiar with the phrase "What you feel isn't what's actually happening."

"Feel ain't real."

9 hours ago, Diece said:

Which dispels that feel is important, Hogan even said that "If you did the exact opposite of what you feel, you'd probably make a pretty good swing." I don't remember the exact quote though but it was something like that.

I believe it was actually something more like "if you reverse every natural instinct you have, you'll have a good golf swing."

It was not "reverse the opposite of what you feel." That wouldn't make any sense.

9 hours ago, Diece said:

If you want to learn how to swing the club and hit the ball solidly, you either have to learn entirely by feel or through mechanics.

I completely disagree, and this makes no sense.

9 hours ago, Diece said:

You can't mix the two. When you mix the two you're not getting the full picture whereas if you stick to just one, you can put the clubhead in the proper positions.

The two are completely intertwined.

Feels are how I as an instructor change a golfer's mechanics… but it also helps that the golfer understands the mechanics and why they're trying to achieve them (feels will drift over time, too).

15 minutes ago, saevel25 said:

Posture, alignment, and grip are not fundamentals.

They're not commonalities. They are fundamentals.

 

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I don't really follow the OP in this one.  I'm a bit of a mechanics guy.  I need an instructor that explains "What" he wants me to do, and why.  That gives me a picture/goal.  Then, he needs to give me drills that gives me the "feel" that accomplishes the goals.  It's really hard to separate them in any way in my game/mind.

You need the right feel to achieve the correct mechanics.

I assume there are some players that just go on feel alone, IF they have an instructor that teaches them that way, be even then, the instructor is monitoring the mechanics instead of sharing the mechanics as in my case.

Bring in visual (video, etc) feedback, and I think you link the two more and more for quicker and better results.

Anyone claiming 100% one way or the other is just pushing some agenda or ego or miscomprehension... IMHO.

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12 hours ago, Diece said:

If you learn how to hit the ball solid and you've learned by feel, you're going to know what you have to "Feel" in your body to create the proper result but you don't know why it works. You just know how to put it there and that's it. 

This is how i play, i know how to move the body and place the club face in order to make the ball fly the way i what to, fade, draw, high or low.

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33 minutes ago, p1n9183 said:

This is how i play, i know how to move the body and place the club face in order to make the ball fly the way i what to, fade, draw, high or low.

So when the ball doesn’t do what you wanted it to, what do you do? Your swing ‘felt’ right but the result was wrong. Then what? 

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I am a high HC, so take this FWIW.

I have made it my goal to develop a good technical swing and improve my results as a benefit.

In all my competitive endeavors, this has served me.  I have raced motorcycles, flown gliders, done technical scuba diving, long distance riding, skiing, the list goes on.  In all cases, I spent a lot of time becoming technically proficient, which resulted in excellent results after the learning period.

 

I liken the mechanical vs feel to skiers.

There are two types of skiers.  Both can ski any mountain and handle any terrain.  One of them does it by sheer will power and years of skiing badly (mechanically), but can handle anything.

The other is technically proficient and can ski anything and looks fluid and smooth.

Both end up with the same results, but the technically superior skier is having an easier time of it and probably enjoying it more.

 

I have seen this at my home course, in league play.  Of the top 5 or 6 guys, only two of them have something that looks like a traditional swing.  The other 4 have some really interesting mechanics.  All 6 of them can whip my butt any day and twice on Sunday.  But I believe that when I get my mechanics in place, and can do it with consistency, I will produce better results.

 

This will take longer that just going by pure feel, but I am betting the end results will be better.

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32 minutes ago, Vinsk said:

So when the ball doesn’t do what you wanted it to, what do you do? Your swing ‘felt’ right but the result was wrong. Then what? 

I would still stick with the feel the next time I were using the club in similar circumstances.  This is because what you are trusting a memory of the best feel.  I feel this discussion is far too narrow. I build on technical practice to create the best feel in the micro seconds of the actual shot. 

You have put together your repertoire of how to do it.  As to why it did not work that time, it is a bit of "who knows".  How big the unintended result? There are many small components that may, at that moment, affect the shot.  So while the feel is good, it may end up as a shot gone screwy.  Again, I am talking here of during a round. We have all hit shots that felt great but ended up rotten.  Watch the pros; even they show a "what the hell happened" look on the face. But the bad shot is now history. Next time you still set up the same way when given the same the same type of lie. 

Practice and them correct if needed at the DR.  If your "feel"  is good but ball still push slices, this is the time to practice focusing on.  On the course, you need to trust your swing by feel or whatever works for you. 

Edited by DrMJG

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Feel ain't real.

Start w/mechanics, learn the feel.  And good mechanics feel good if you practice. 

It starts with your very first lesson.  The grip. Feels horrible.  That's mechanics at it's most basic level.  Practice a week, feels good.  Becomes natural. Anything slightly off from there feels bad.  I start with a goal, mechanically-minded, and learn it.  Somewhere along the way, often early in the process, something clicks where feel can take over and get me repeating what was at first an awkward movement.

For me it's a maintenance process.  Left to my own devices, pursuing what feels right, I will slowly move the ball further forward in my stance and also take the club away a little bit inside.  For me, the only way to prevent this is to practice with alignment sticks, always.  

Bubba can trust his feel.  My feel is a lying whore.

Edited by 3jacker

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I may be in the minority, but although I understand the reality, I really do not like the caveat "feel is not real". Feel is very much real to the individual. It is nothing more than  perception, but it is very real to that individual.  Now, I completely agree that proper mechanics can be fundamental, and a "feel" can be derived from the employment of same.  You can not tell me that whatever I am "feeling" is not relevant even if a video or observation from an instructor shows the action performed contradicts what I state I am feeling. I guess the ideal situation would be to integrate the two.

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