As a kid, I first imitated my father's swing. He was a pretty good player, so I was lucky in that respect. Then, as I started watching Jack, I think I naturally imitated his swing. He was, after all, the best player around. As a kid, it was only natural. Kid's are great imitators. But when we imitated swings, we didn't imitate parts of a swing. We imitated the whole motion. We didn't break the swing down into parts.
As we get older, our ability to mimic, or imitate, sometimes diminishes. Or at least it's been suggested that it does. That's why some people believe it is easier to learn golf, or any other sport for that matter, as a kid. And that is probably true. On the other hand, learning golf might be easier when started young simply because, as a youngster, you are less inhibited and have more time to learn the game than the person who picks the game up as an adult; simple as that.
What I have noticed is that most of the best players had good models. They learned the game from playing with, and watching, good players. And that is a luxury not everyone has. So, if we didn't grow up playing with good players, and having good golfing role models, are were essentially out of luck? I don't think so, even if we might be at something of a disadvantage. A slightly different perspective might be all that is required to help those of us who are trying to figure things out.
Here's something really interesting--to me at least--that Bobby Jones wrote about learning to hit shots. Bobby Jones said that when he saw other players hitting shots that he admired, he learned to hit those shots by watching how the player struck the ball. He didn't focus on their backswing, or their follow through. He watched how the club struck the ball and tried to imitate that strike. I think there's something really important about this. Now, I admit that what I think isn't really important. Who am I when I'm at home? But what is important is that this was what Bobby Jones thought.
Golfers are prone to getting all caught up in swing mechanics. We seem to have a tough time appreciating that the ball couldn't give two hoots about our swing. It only cares about how it is struck. So, maybe the next time we get to play with a better player, or to watch better players, we might want to change our perspective. Why not try to focus on how they strike the ball, instead of how they swing the club. Don't worry about their backswing, or what their body might be doing. Just look at the ball and try to see how the club is moving through the strike zone. It may change your game by changing your perspective. And, if it doesn't, it probably won't do you any harm.
Remember, as Bobby Jones taught, golf is about striking the ball with the clubhead. You don't hit the ball with your backswing, Laddie.