I love the story Bobby Jones told about the time he had read some instruction by Harry Vardon about how to hit a particular shot. I think it was what we would call the punch shot these days. Bobby went to the range and started trying to put into practice Vardon's written instructions. He hit an entire bucket of balls, dug a lot of dirt, and didn't hit one decent shot. His teacher, Stewart Maiden, had been giving instruction to someone else when Bobby began trying to learn this shot, but when finished, and thoroughly disgusted, he turned to see Maiden sitting on a bench, shaking his head and chuckling to himself. Bobby resolved never to try to learn to swing, or hit a shot, by following instructions from a book ever again.
Bobby Jones didn't believe in swinging by numbers, or trying to copy someone else's swing. In fact, he wasn't in favour of teaching swing mechanics at all. To him, it was all about the strike, even if he did find himself writing about the golf swing to some extent.
I just saw a post on Google, with a clip from Fred Shoemaker, which purported to say that somehow the yips wasn't such a bad thing. In the Golfchannel clip, Shoemaker had his student hold the putter and just feel his hands while he rocked his shoulders for him. Apparently, according to Fred, if you could "surrender yourself" to someone who would rock your shoulders for you as you hit putts, in a couple of weeks or so, you'd be cured. If you believe that, I've got a hundred acres of swampland in Florida you've just got to buy. I mean, are we really serious? I can just see me asking Billy Gallagher to come to the putting green and rock my shoulders for me, while I "surrender myself."
Fred Shoemaker wrote a good book called Extraordinary Golf, but this bit on Golfchannel? Freddie, give me a break. If you could cure the yips in two weeks just by getting someone dumb enough to rock your shoulders for you, all you'd have to do is find someone dumb enough to rock your shoulders for you. Wouldn't Bernhard Langer feel silly, not having thought of that? He could have saved himself one helluva lot of time, energy, and grief.
And then we have that guy on the Golfchannel; the one that did the School of Golf with that buxom gal who bombed recently doing the interviews at the US Open. He's a Brit, and he likes to have you use all kinds of things you have to buy in a hardware store to help you play better. I loved the one where he suggested you hit balls with a basketball between your knees. I can just hear the boys now. "Look at Haynes hitting balls with a basketball between his legs. Why don't we try that?"
I just wonder what Stewart Maiden, or Bobby Jones, or Ben Hogan would think if they could see the kind of stuff passing itself off as golf instruction these days. I know Maiden would laugh. I don't know about Bobby, but I suspect Hogan would either want to be ill, or just cry. Actually, Hogan was reputed to have a good sense of humour. Maybe he'd laugh as well.