There's a guy out there destroying golf swings one after another. He doles out unsolicited advice to anyone who will listen. Right now he's lurking at a driving range somewhere, just waiting to pounce on his next victim with another "can't-miss tip."
You know this guy. You've likely listened to his random musings at your local practice facility.
"Sorry, I couldn't help but notice you were struggling. Can I give you some advice on what you're doing wrong?"
What likely followed was a regurgitation of watered-down advice like keeping your head down, hitting down on the ball, or the dreaded "swing smoother." I call these the three pillars of golf bullsh*t.
This madness has been going on forever - golfers who are in no position to fix swings giving out advice as if they were the second coming of Harvey Penick. I'm here to give you an official warning...
STOP LISTENING TO THAT RANDOM GUY AT THE RANGE, YOUR BUDDIES, OR ANYONE ELSE WHO IS NOT QUALIFIED TO GIVE SWING ADVICE.
They cannot help you. In fact, they are probably going to make your game worse.
Evaluating a Golf Swing Takes a Great Deal of Knowledge
Would you take legal advice from a random stranger who walked up to you on the street? If someone saw you purchasing tax software at Staples, and offered to do your returns for free, would you let them?
I highly doubt it, that's absurd!
For whatever reason, many golfers don't understand or respect just how difficult it is to evaluate a swing and then provide actionable advice on how to fix your flaws. Golf instructors have very difficult jobs. The golf swing is a complex movement that has many moving parts, and it takes years and years of studying and teaching to hone your skills.
However, I've watched hundreds of golfers get impromptu swing lessons from people who have no idea what they are talking about. It's actually amazing just how willing golfers are to listen to just about anyone who wants to give out swing advice.
Swing Tips Don't Work
There is an endless supply of swing tips. Many of them are incomplete in nature, poorly researched, or just entirely wrong.
That doesn't stop golfers from constantly digesting them on YouTube, various websites, and magazines. They spread around like a bad game of telephone. Once the information gets to you, it is usually completely irrelevant to your swing.
Every golfer's swing is unique. We all have different physical abilities, tendencies, and learning styles. That won't stop "that guy" though! He's going to fix you all up in 20 minutes with a foolproof move he just learned the other day.
Just Say No
One of the main reasons I started Practical Golf was to protect golfers from all of the bad information out there that I know is preventing them from improving.
I can tell you with complete certainty that accepting advice from random strangers at the range or your golfing buddies, is not going to get your game to where you want it.
So I am pleading with you, just say no the next time someone tries to give you a swing lesson who is not qualified to do so. It's not to say that they have malicious intentions for your game - in fact, they are usually just trying to be kind and help out.
You have the power to politely decline though! Be strong and resist them.
A Better Plan
I genuinely believe that if you really want to improve your golf swing, the fastest path to success is to take lessons from a qualified teaching professional. This article explains why.
It's the best investment you can make in your game, even better than golf equipment in my opinion.
Sometimes that is not in the cards for everyone because of budget limitations. Most people default to searching on YouTube, which can be dangerous because there are so many instructors who have varying philosophies on the swing. You can get 10 different versions of information that can litter your head with swing thoughts that will ultimately cripple you on the course. If you do go that route I encourage you to try and stick with one voice.
Personally, I think most golfers who are going at it alone would be better suited challenging themselves with skill-based drills during their practice sessions. They don't require you to understand the mechanics of the golf swing, but rather get you to self-organize in order to achieve a goal. Here are five games that can help with that.
So the next time you get approached with a swing tip, remember this article and don't listen!