Over the past few days I’ve been searching through golf blogs and eventually I came across ptpgolf.com (which has a lot of great information on it) and something I saw on this website again reminded me of my childhood lessons. Under the “Moeisms” part of the way down the page, there’s a brief quote from Moe Norman who is considered to be one of the best ball strikers ever. He says “Why am I the greatest ball-striker? Because I have the least moving parts. I keep it simple.” and that resonated with me. Keeping your game simple is something that golfers can lose as they search for some of the newest advice and equipment.
But it’s easy to get caught up with all of the latest and greatest gadgets and techniques. You can scour Youtube, Google, and Golf Digest but often times, there’s too much information at these places to help you at all. You can’t go through a round thinking about the hundreds of different mechanics you’ve read lately. You can practice your swing, but trying to incorporate everything you learn is only going to confuse you as a golfer and hurt your scores.
Keeping it simple has a special place in my golfing heart. My dad, whenever I would go with him to pick out new clubs, would always remind me that I didn’t need all of the bells and whistles, but instead, I just needed to find a club that was comfortable for me. The one time I remember distinctly was going to pick out a new putter. We went to the local sporting goods store and my 14 year old self immediately jumped to the most abstract putters around the store. I was playing around with them when my dad came up to me with one in his hand. It was a PowerBuilt White Face putter and although it didn’t have the size and flare of the one’s I had been looking at, to humor my dad, I decided to try it out. At first I wasn’t a fan of what was almost a replica of my last putter, but, as I kept rolling putts around the green, I realized that I had found the putter I needed. It wasn’t fancy but it didn’t have to be. It just felt right.
Looking back at this day, simplicity has truly triumphed. I still have the same putter, and I still use the same irons I was gifted around the same age. Neither of these are by any means the most advanced clubs. But there’s a simplicity and a comfort that comes with having the same set of clubs. I think the key to it is that you always know what to expect from them. The clubs are there to hit the ball, and that’s all they need to do, the rest is up to me and my skill as a player.
This sort of simplicity that I received from my dad transferred to my mindset when it comes to golf. I didn’t need to learn the most advanced techniques. In fact, for someone who now teaches other golfers I really haven’t taken very many lessons in my life. What I always focused on was finding a way to get the ball from point A to point B consistently, and then practicing that until it was almost second nature. As I matured as a golfer I found myself playing a simpler game. During my teenage years I would make my rounds harder than they had to be by taking tough shots, but now, once I hit the ball off of the first tee I know what I want to do during the round. I want to get the ball from the tee to the green in as few shots as possible. And it seems obvious, of course, that’s always been the goal of golf. But all of my decisions on the golf course are based off of that one thought, and the simplicity that comes along with it helps me always make well informed, intelligent decisions.
So you don’t need an innovative putting stroke like Bernhard Langer (although it works for him, and it’s actually pretty interesting to think about) to play good golf. And you don’t need new clubs (although they probably can’t hurt). Sometimes what you need is to just return to your fundamentals.
I’ve gone through slumps in my career where I wasn’t playing well and almost every time, when I went back to find the root of the problem, it was something so basic I couldn’t believe it. I would look back at my rounds and remember the 5 iron I tried to fade into the wind that ended up going in a trap. I would remember trying to get extra backspin on a high iron to stick it close, only to blade the ball over the green. All of these things could have been replaced with a less complex shot that would have put me in a much better position. And when I finally decided to leave the extra flare behind, I would slowly start to see my confidence and my scores improve.
It is truly a balancing act. You can’t simplify the game down too far because the game by design has such a complex nature. There will always be different obstacles during your rounds and I will always choose the shot with the best chance of scoring well, even if it might be more complex. That’s not what this article is about though. I don’t want to deter you from hitting hard shots, and scoring well. We all love to hit spectacular shots. But I also know that when you try to get, as my dad would as, “too fancy for your own good” you end up throwing away strokes trying to be too exact, or too precise with your approach. You don’t need to hit a cutter into the wind over a sand trap and spin the ball into the hole in order to score well. And sometimes, remembering this is the first step towards saving strokes on the golf course. So until next time golfers, remember to keep it simple.
“Stay within yourself. I never swing 100 percent. Most of the time, it’s 80 percent. Sure, you can swing 100 percent and the ball will go further, but it’s work. Golf isn’t a game of violence. Just bump it – about 280 yards.” -Moe Norman