One of my great frustrations as a long-time teaching professional is the proliferation of wrong information that is taken as gospel in the golf world. For example, the belief that high humidity produces “heavy” air and a shorter ball flight. In fact, as highlighted in Golf Teaching Pro, humid air is actually less dense than dry air, and will thus produce a couple of extra yards instead of a reduction. Yet, ask any golfer about the effects of humid air, and 99% will say that the air is heavier and the ball will carry less.
Or, how about incorrect Rules beliefs? Twice in competition my fellow competitors tried to penalize me for holding onto the removed flagstick while tapping in a putt. This is not a penalty, as Decision 17-1/5 makes clear. When I informed these fellow competitors of this Decision, they then say, “Well, it used to be a penalty.” In fact, no, it was never a penalty. Another favorite is practicing on the putting green after you hole out. Again, well-meaning fellow-competitors have tried to call penalties on me for this, saying that the practice is illegal in stroke play but not in match play. In each case, I had to direct them to Rule 7 which governs practice. They are genuinely surprised to learn that it is not a penalty in stroke play, except if local rules provide for it.
The instruction realm is not immune. How many times do we hear that for every club in the bag, the butt end of the grip should be a fist away from the body? The fact is that the longer the club, the farther away the butt end should be from the body. Or how about “the slower the better” when it comes to backswings, backed up with “evidence” that amateurs swing back more slowly than professionals. The truth is that the opposite occurs, and swinging back too slowly is not good for most people. Or how about the downswing should be started by the arms and hands?
There are many more examples, too numerous to list here. So, is there any way to correct all the mis-information that is out there in one fell swoop? Probably not. People believe what they are going to believe. All we can do as USGTF professionals is to know what is factually correct and to pass the correct information along. We can start with educating one golfer at a time, and go from there.