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Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Jack Nicklaus on Perfection

Jack Nicklaus, like all great players, had to learn that golf is not a game of perfect.  He wrote in Golf My Way:

    "As an amateur there were times that I believed that if only I didn't have to clean up my room, or get an education, or earn a living, I would be able to hone my game to a point of absolute perfection and then hold it there permanently.  I grew up in the era of Hogan.  Everything I saw of him and read of him and heard of him indicated that he had achieved utter mechanical perfection in the striking of a golf ball.  Perfect repitition.  Flawless automation.  This was my dream.  All I needed to achieve it was sufficient time to work at my game.
    I was kidding myself.  When I turned professional, suddenly I had all the time and the opportunity I needed.  And I discovered, fast, that my dream was just that: a dream.  No matter how much work I did, one week I would have it and the next I couldn't hit my hat...
    The point I want to make emphatically as possible right at the start of this book is that you cannot automate the golf swing.  No 'method' of swinging the club has ever been invented that will enable a golfer to achieve machine-like shot-making perfection over an extended period, and in my opinion none ever will be-- certainly not by Jack Nicklaus."

Ben Hogan, Byron Nelson, and Moe Norman came about as close as you can get to ball-striking perfection.  And they all employed different methods, or at least had very different actions except when it came to impact.  So, I guess us average Joes, who don't have the talent, the drive, or the time to beat balls like Ben Hogan, should just accept the vaguaries of the game, realizing that some days we will play well and other days we won't be able to piddle a drop. That's golf.  

Besides, perfection would likely be boring.  Fairways and greens, fairways and greens.  I like the odd trouble shot myself.  And no matter how well you strike it, you still have to make the putts.  Don't even get me started about putting!

So, by all means practise, if you enjoy hitting balls.  But realize that it really all comes down to how well you can manage your game, the game you have on that day.  And how well you putt.