Debunking Common Golf Myths

Jul 30, 2018

Golfer with his head down after swing mistake

In golf, there are many misconceptions and old wives’ tales — things that golfers, particularly new golfers, often believe to be true. Many of these beliefs are false and can actually harm your play or overall golf experience.

We asked Golf Academy of America in Myrtle Beach PGA instructor Nikki Winn to help debunk a few of the most common golf myths.

Myths About Golf Fundamentals

Believing common myths about golf fundamentals can affect your play negatively, so it’s important to know how to tell what is true and what is false. In Winn’s opinion, perhaps the most common myth that golfers mistakenly believe is that they need to keep their head down.

“You really don’t want to keep your head down,” Winn says. “Through the golf swing, it’s not your head moving — it’s your lower body standing up, which makes your head come up.”

The reality is that if you keep your head down while your momentum is carrying you in a different direction, you are opening yourself up to injuries.

According to Golf Academy of America’s National Dean of Golf Instruction and Golf Technology Brad Kirkman, another common myth is that golfers should keep their lead arm straight.

“When I hear the word ‘straight,’ sometimes I think of ‘rigid,’ and that’s certainly not the way you want to swing a golf club,” Kirkman says.

Instead, Kirkman suggests, golfers should try to keep their arm relatively straight, but not stiff. He also notes that it’s important to bend your arm in the follow-through, because keeping it straight decreases speed.

“As the club rotates around, we want our lead arm to fold, so that we can add speed and power to our golf swing and get into our finish,” he explains.

A golfer’s short game is another area where common misconceptions come into play. Many people believe that in order to get the ball into the air, they have to hit the ball in an upward direction. In fact, it’s the opposite.

“If you hit down into the ball and compress the ball down, that’s actually what makes the ball go up,” Winn says. “It also creates the spin that makes the ball stop on the green. It’s a huge misconception that I see quite frequently.”

Winn believes that another fallacy comes from players watching golf professionals on television and attempting to mimic their larger-than-life swing.

“A lot of people overswing, but they are insistent that they are not bringing it back as far as they are,” notes Winn. “It causes them to lose control of the club a lot.”

She adds: “That’s where technology really comes into play.”

Golf Technology Doesn’t Lie

According to Winn, one of the great things about golf technology is that it can lay out to a player exactly how their actions are affecting their swing.

“If you can prove it to the golf students and they can start to see themselves changing, they’ll start to tear away from their flawed thinking,” she says.

“We have a definite advantage at Golf Academy of America because we’ve got current technology, so our students are able to see what they’re doing,” Winn adds. “It’s a lot different when you can see it versus trying to feel it. It’s extremely helpful.”

Winn explains that the advent of technology has allowed golf professionals to alter and correct advice that they previously thought to be true. For example, she says, golf pros now know that the face angle of the club is much more important than the path — something that was formerly thought to be the other way around.

Myths About the Game of Golf

While some golf myths affect those who are already trying to improve their golf fundamentals, others can prevent people from ever taking up the game in the first place.

One common misconception is that golf is a time-consuming game. While this certainly can be the case, it doesn’t have to be.

“People get very intimidated, and if you’re out there playing 18 holes, it’s a solid four hours,” Winn says. “But there are many nine-hole or par-three courses that can take less time.”

Golf also has a reputation as a game for adult males, something that Winn says is untrue.

“We’re really trying to focus on junior golfers and female golfers,” she says. “If you can get the family involved, obviously, you’re going to have a lot more success.”

For juniors, another common deterrent is their parents’ hesitation to invest in the game before they are certain that their child will stick with it. Often, parents will give their children a set of older clubs and cut them down to size. According to Winn, this is a recipe for failure.

“These clubs are not made for a kid just because they are the right height,” she explains. “Juniors really need to get fitted for clubs, and they are going to have a lot more success if they have the right equipment.”

Combatting Misconceptions

“Number one: don’t believe everything you hear,” says Winn.

She notes that even though a lot of the information on the internet comes from unqualified sources, it doesn’t stop most people from searching online to diagnose their golf problem. Unfortunately, much of the information out there is pure myth.

Other fallacies come from the past — information that has now been debunked.

To combat this misinformation, Winn suggests golfers find an instructor they trust and stick with him or her.

To learn more about Golf Academy of America, like us on Facebook, join the conversation on Twitter, and see what it’s like to be a Golf Academy of America student on Instagram!