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self-help

Self-help videos – good or bad?

Can they transform your game or should you go your own way?
 

Steve Carroll: We’ve got a lovely guy at our golf club. He’s committed to the game and funny in the clubhouse after a round.

But he does have one interesting foible. Before almost every medal, he will regale us with the newest tip he’s found that is going to propel him towards single figures.

He wasn’t transferring his weight properly, you see. His body wasn’t turning enough on his backswing. He isn’t driving his hips through impact. His putter needs to be fractionally further forward at address.

He is the king of self-help videos. His homepage is set to YouTube.

I’m the complete opposite.

I can’t bear to watch even the briefest clip, terrified it will somehow infect my decidedly average game and set me on the road to ruin.

My biggest battle is inside my own head – and there’s only room for one voice on the tee.

So which should be? Should we immerse ourselves in the knowledge of others, or just find our own way through proper practise and endeavour?

Mark Townsend: It’s a guilty pleasure that I take little pleasure out of. If I had a pound for every time I had typed the following into YouTube/Google I would be very well off…

Chipping yips

Stop thinning your chips

Rewire your golfing brain

Chipping cack-handed

Stop the scoop golf

Make bunker play simple

Chipping, strong left hand

This is the world we all sadly live in, with our phones glued in front of our faces and you could only be one click away from solving 20 years of pain and misery.

James Savage: I think I’m somewhere in-between Steve and Mark.

I’ll watch the odd tip but they rarely tell me something that I don’t already know. I’ve struggled with various elements of the long game and have always gone to see a PGA pro when things got really bad.

This helped me understand what my main flaws were and I was told what I needed to work on.

Turning to YouTube after self-diagnosis or taking too much advice from playing partners is dangerous. Go see your pro.

SC: Professionals are expensive…

JS: Not really. I think that’s a perception thing. I noticed Bridport and West Dorset were doing six lessons for £30 the other day.

Tom Lenton: I am a bit of an Instagram addict (GGswingtips especially). I think in the short term a new feeling or thought can help but, in the long term, unless you have the coach overseeing your development, it’s going to go wrong – 100 per cent.

Craig Middleton: I think it’s not a bad thing if you watch tips from one coach. But watching different coaches and then trying to implement the swing changes is not helpful at all.

I like to watch a certain coach on YouTube as I think their tips are simple and effective. But these 10 minute long videos on swing path and shoulder turn aren’t helpful at all for me.

MT: For me it’s more a time thing. If I think there is a little nugget then it’s worth 10 minutes watching a handful of club pros in California talking to me about my weight transfer.

None of it relates precisely to what I do wrong but at least I can content myself that I’m trying. And occasionally it gives you that little fillip to actually go out and practise.

JS: I agree. Sometimes a new move, pre-shot routine or swing thought can re-invigorate your game in the same way a new club can.

Tom Irwin: They are good – anything that gets people thinking about improving their golf has to be positive.

Making sure the coach is credible, and qualified, is a good start. There is also a danger that misinterpreting information can do more harm than good.

I think the positives out weigh that though. Hopefully people use online coaching videos as a stepping stone to proper face-to-face instruction rather than an alternative.

It is harder to comment on golf as we are so immersed in it, but I am trying to get better at swimming and videos have helped me with technique and I will at some point, when I know that I am going to stick at it, get some private lessons.

JS: Let us know when you’re out of armbands Tom…

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Steve Carroll

Steve Carroll

A journalist for 25 years, Steve has been immersed in club golf for almost as long. A former club captain, he has passed the Level 3 Rules of Golf exam with distinction having attended the R&A's prestigious Tournament Administrators and Referees Seminar.

Steve has officiated at a host of high-profile tournaments, including Open Regional Qualifying, PGA Fourball Championship, English Men's Senior Amateur, and the North of England Amateur Championship. In 2023, he made his international debut as part of the team that refereed England vs Switzerland U16 girls.

A part of NCG's Top 100s panel, Steve has a particular love of links golf and is frantically trying to restore his single-figure handicap. He currently floats at around 11.

Steve plays at Close House, in Newcastle, and York GC, where he is a member of the club's matches and competitions committee and referees the annual 36-hole scratch York Rose Bowl.

Having studied history at Newcastle University, he became a journalist having passed his NTCJ exams at Darlington College of Technology.

What's in Steve's bag: TaylorMade Stealth 2 driver, 3-wood, and hybrids; TaylorMade Stealth 2 irons; TaylorMade Hi-Toe, Ping ChipR, Sik Putter.

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