Attempting to make swing changes has ruined the careers of many a great player and this fate almost befell Tommy Fleetwood. What can you learn from his recovery?

Any mere mortal who has ever picked up a club will know just how hard the game of golf is, yet the very best players in the world regularly make it look easy. But for all that they are ridiculously good, they aren’t infallible. There are many examples I could use to illustrate but I’ve chosen Tommy Fleetwood.

To say 2017 was a big year for Fleetwood would be an understatement. Having progressed through the ranks fairly seamlessly since turning pro, claiming his first professional win in 2013 and breaching the world’s top 50 by May 2015, he took the decision to make some swing changes and subsequently lost his form, falling to No. 188 in the world just a year later.

“When I originally changed my swing, I was a bit stupid, almost naive, thinking I could keep playing to the same level while getting better. It worked in the complete opposite way.”

So how did he recover and what can we all learn from it?

After some soul searching, Fleetwood decided to reunite with a familiar face – old swing coach Alan Thompson – and the pair set about rebuilding. Fast forward to present day and you can still find Tommy on the range working on the same drills that brought him back from the brink.

Check out this post Steven Guilano, a golf coach based in Asia:

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Great post here from @mm.golf of a video I took in Abu Dabi almost 2-years ago and a recent video taken by @karlvillwock showing the consistency of @officialtommyfleetwood working on the same move. ・・・ #Repost @mm.golf ・・・ Recently a good friend of mine who visited the European Tour final in Dubai has sent me a Video of Tommy Fleetwood working on technical stuff on the range. As I talked with Steven about it he showed and sent me a 2 year old video of Fleetwood equally working on technique on the range. Same location same drill……after 2 years! That fact contains a very important and helpful message although it mainly relates to golfers who have played the game for quite a while. Once technical tendencies have been emerged and ingrained, very often they gonna stick with you for the rest of your life! This applies to professionals as well as amateurs. Don't get me wrong. Of Couse swing evolutions can be realised, but to own those changes under pressure a lot of hard consistent work is required. I got to know too many people during my coach life that would have come up with a different swing thought or idea concerning what they are doing and how they can fix it every week. Some of them got even completely identical swing analysis from several very good coaches which still wasn’t enough to reassure them. YouTube hasn’t been helpful as well in this context. 🙂 Those guys still wander around looking for that one fix that might make them shoot 10 strokes better right away. This is of course nonsense and usually leads to a unceasingly search of something that doesn't exist. As a player go out there and look for someone that, in your opinion, provides enough knowledge to be capable of delivering an objective and holistic analysis of your game and stick to what he or she might have told you for the next month / years and you will get results. What’s good for one of the best ball strikers on tour, might be good for you as well 😉 . . . Thanks a lot to @sggolfcoaching and @karlvillwock for sharing the videos with me

A post shared by Steven Giuliano (@sggolfcoaching) on

Nov 28, 2019 at 3:49am PST

It’s no coincidence that, through consistent application of drills specific to the faults in his swing, his game has gone from strength to strength. The Englishman is now one of the most consistent performers in the world and I wouldn’t be surprised if he bagged himself a major this year.

Fleetwood admits the whole thing was a real learning experience, saying: “As much as we all do it [make swing changes] for the right reasons, the older you get the more you realise everybody has their own tendencies. I wouldn’t change it because I’ve learnt from the experience.

“If I could tell anything to young kids or amateurs turning pro, I’d say you never get rid of them [your tendencies], you just have to figure out a way to get better at them.”

If you’re working on your game this winter, take his advice. We all have our own swings so find some drills that keep your bad habits in check without attempting a complete overhaul. You’ll have good and bad days, just as Tommy did, but with consistent application, you could reap the rewards for years to come.

What are your favourite drills? Let me know in the comments or tweet me.