It’s what is most different in the swings of touring pros. And it’s what can throw a swing out of kilter possibly more than anything else. Essentially it exists on a continuum of two elements: slow to fast. It is pace, and you can see it in the way people walk, eat, talk, pay for their bill at a restaurant, make decisions, and play golf. We amble along like Fred Couples, move quickly like Justin Thomas, come to a near stop like Hideki Matsuyama, almost run like Danielle Kang, be kind of jumpy like Brandt Snedeker or Kevin Na, lumber along like John Daly, thunder ahead like Pat Perez, or sling a splitting maul like Matt Wolff. As you can tell, I love to watch the different paces of the pros. And their swings usually match their walking and talking styles.
When analysts say a swing “got quick”, they’re usually talking about pace, and it’s usually after some mis-hit. In my case, I’m a fairly slow moving dude who gets into golf trouble when my pace gets too fast. That happens when I watch Bryson or Wolffie or JT too much and try to increase my distance by swinging faster. It’s sneaky, swing speed, in that it leaks into a swing like a slow drip in the kitchen sink overnight that becomes a flooded floor in the morning. Before you know it, the mind that so very much wants more distance sends a signal to the nerve endings and muscle fibers in the rest of the body which speed things up. This throws off your usual rhythm and timing resulting in a shot that you wish you hadn’t made. Then you get upset and the great range session you had the day before becomes like the fog when you started playing that day. Once your normal pace leaves you, it’s tough to get it back during your round.
The pros can get it back because this is their profession and their pace is well embedded in mind and body. And the handicapper? All is not lost, but it does require a fair degree of mindfulness to slow the mind down in order to assess the situation and reclaim one’s natural pace. This is a challenge but mindfulness allowing a return to the present will help.
From my experience, I’ve found that most of the trouble starts at the transition from backswing to downswing. I like to think of it as letting gravity govern the swing at that point. The reason too quick a pace can ruin results is that it can affect the quality of contact of ball to clubface. Anything off center and a clubface facing off target at impact can lead to trouble. So the answer is to slow down and rediscover the pace your brain remembers that produces solid contact. It’s there in your memory.
That’s the key, really. Your true pace is always available to you, but because you don’t practice as much as the pros, it’s more easily lost. If you’re like me, you haven’t the time or the body conditioning to train like a pro, but you can tackle pace issues with self knowledge and mindfulness. As a huge banner in a meditation center I used to attend on the East Coast says, REMEMBER.
So who’s your pace model? Big Easy Ernie Els, Swaggering Dustin Johnson, Go for Broke Bryson DeChambeau or Laid Back Lydia Ko.
Whatever your pace, one other thing to remember: Keep the pace of play moving along.
This week it’s the Mayakoba Classic in Mexico. Enjoy the action.
Phil and Charles steamrolled Steph and Peyton in The Match III. Personally, I preferred to watch Arnie shoot 65 in beating Gay Brewer and Chi Chi in Puerto Rico in an old rerun of Shell’s Wonderful World of Golf, with Jimmie Demeret and Gene Sarazen hosting. Some really great golf watching some of the greats of differing paces play this daunting game.