Golf in the time of Covid-19

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Published: April 5, 2020 4:00:38 AM

For those of us not as prescient or lucky, the option is to turn to that holy fount of eternal golf instruction—YouTube.

Breaking that, you’ve been warned, would lead to consequences of a magnitude that would obscure any golf catastrophe you’ve been through.Breaking that, you’ve been warned, would lead to consequences of a magnitude that would obscure any golf catastrophe you’ve been through.

It’s probably the sort of vocational hazard that non-playing partners of golfers are familiar with in the best of times but with Covid-19 looming large outdoors, the terror of the game has really hit home, literally. Yes, that putting mat is way too large for your studio apartment (aren’t you glad you picked it up!).

Diagonally placed across the living room, up and over the low cushioned seating, it’s as slick and treacherous as the 17th green at TPC Sawgrass. Hit it too easy and the ball comes rolling back, before meandering off into the kitchen. Hit it too hard and it misses the hole, goes off the mat, and heads straight for that expensive China precariously placed on the corner display. Breaking that, you’ve been warned, would lead to consequences of a magnitude that would obscure any golf catastrophe you’ve been through. Better than most? You’d better be.

Now, there are some of us who’re in less tenuous situations. Just read an interview of Asian Games medalist and Chartered Accountant Amit Luthra who’s emphasised on the importance of staying indoors and working on your fitness. Luthra elaborates on how to do so at a home gym, and adds that for now, he’ll just stick to his golf simulator and in-house putting green! A proper golf doomsday prepper if you ask me—he’s definitely having the
last laugh.

For those of us not as prescient or lucky, the option is to turn to that holy fount of eternal golf instruction—YouTube. In case you’re feeling inundated by the deluge of wisdom out there—take it from one who’s been floundering in these waters for years now—find one instructor you like, and stick with him.  For me, that’s been Shawn Clement, one of the first instructors to use YouTube for lessons. Shawn’s swing philosophy harks back to the ‘old golf swing,’ if you must call it that. He stresses on holding the club firmly rather than lightly, urges you to abandon the modern swing concept of coiling your super body tightly against a near-static lower body, and encourages you to use the natural turning of the body with an athletic motion to create momentum. I stick with Shawn simply because all those who’ve swung like this don’t seem to have injury issues in the their careers. Right from Hall-of-Famers like Jack Nicklaus, Tom Kite, or Sam Snead, to modern golfers like Bubba Watson, Dustin Johnson, and Jason Dufner, there are plenty of successful golfers who use at least some of the tenets of this swing.

After years of delusion your columnist has reluctantly concluded that elite golfers and he might not have the same physical equipment. If you happen to be in the same boat then I’d highly recommend Shawn.

With over 6,22,000 subscribers to their channel, Andy Proudman and Piers Ward are the most popular golf instructors on YouTube. Andy and Piers run ‘Me and my golf,’ and are fun to watch, at the very least. If you do have a modern golf swing and intend to stick with it, then these guys are quite unbeatable.

Another guy with a strong following on YouTube is Mike Malaska. Now Malaska, much like Shawn is a strong proponent of focusing on the task at hand (hitting the ball to target), and acquiring the hand-eye co-ordination to achieve that, before moving on to more complex concepts.

But neither of these gents can match the amiability of Aimee Cho, a teaching pro with a fantastic series for beginners. Aimee is patient, thorough, quite lovely to listen to, and doesn’t wrap the viewer up in complex golf swing concepts.

If you are considering a swing change and need some motivation then there’s‘My Swing Evolution’—a feel-good story of a regular guy who decided to remodel his swing on that of a golfing legend, and succeeded. Ben Hogan fan Christo Garcia is now a scratch handicapper and possesses probably the most authentic Hogan-esque swing you’re likely to see.

Other honourable mentions go to Eric Congorno, who’s quite brilliant at short game instruction, and the ever-popular Rick Shiels.

These are just those instructors that come to mind at a moment’s thought. Tip of the iceberg really: if I did have to draw up a comprehensive list of golf instructors on YouTube whose golf swing philosophies I’ve literally, ‘subscribed to’ over the past few years then that would make a long (and tragic) litany of my futile quest for the perfect golf swing.

Strangely enough, nowadays, with the driving range out of bounds, things appear to be improving. Jack Grout had Nicklaus swinging for days before he allowed him to hit a ball: and taking the ball out of the equation clearly has its advantages, especially when you’re doing most of the swinging in your living room.

I know now, for example, that the hanging lampshade in the aisle is right on my swing path if I happen to ‘cast the club’ from the top. I remember Gary Player used to talk about ‘getting on the board,’ with the board being nothing but a plank of wood placed parallel to the ball to target line. The idea was to force you to swing from the inside. Mr Player was right of course, but even he would be surprised at how much more effective that drill becomes when you replace the board with, say, a coffee table your better half made you lug all the way from Malaysia. Golf in the time of Covid folks; these days are just packed!

A golfer, Meraj Shah also writes about the game

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