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"Feel is not Real" in Golf

Last updated Jan 26, 2024

"Feel is not Real" in Golf

In golf, what you are feeling in your swing is rarely what is happening in real life. To know what's real, you need a camera.

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Written By: Zach Gollwitzer

Posted in: Practice Strategies

If you've been around my website or taken a premium course, you know what I think about cameras in golf.

I'm a huge advocate for getting your swing on video even if it's a little inconvenient.


Because in golf, feel is not real.

Should you learn by feel or by camera?

There is no "correct" way to learn golf. Everyone is different and every golf coach has a different way of teaching. But in my opinion, we must learn golf by seeing then feeling.

Weight Lifting vs. Golf

Before I talk about why I think learning by camera is a better option for most golfers, I want to talk about lifting weights for a minute.

If you were a beginner in the gym and wanted to learn how to properly lift weights, which approach do you think is best?

  1. Watch yourself in the mirror as you perform the movements
  2. Try to feel the correct movements without a mirror
  3. Have a coach tell you how to lift

I think most people would choose option #3. I sure would!

But what if no coach is available? What's the next best option?

Option #1 of course!

The last thing we want is to injure ourselves by lifting weights the wrong way.

In weightlifting, the consequence of not getting your form correct is injury.

In golf, the consequence of not getting your form correct is bad golf shots.

And since bad golf shots can be laughed off (unlike injuries), we as golfers aren't very concerned about getting our form right most of the time.

Mirror, camera, muscle memory

While I'd argue learning how to swing a golf club is much harder than learning how to squat or deadlift, it is equally important to have a feedback mechanism.

For some golfers, a swing coach can provide that.

For the true "DIYers", the only option is a camera and/or a mirror.

In a perfect world, here is the feedback loop that I would recommend to golfers trying to improve their swing:

  1. Determine which part of your swing you need to work on
  2. Stand in front of a mirror and get into the correct position. Make slight movements while watching yourself in the mirror. Focus intently on how all of your muscles feel in this "correct" position.
  3. Step away from the mirror, remembering what things felt like. Hit some golf balls.
  4. Now film your golf swing and check whether you were able to successfully recreate the correct position
  5. Repeat steps 2-4 several times during a practice session until you nail down the "feel"

"Feel like your hands drop..."

If you've ever taken a lesson; online or in-person, you likely have heard the instructor say something like:

Feel like your hands are dropping behind your body

Or maybe...

Feel like your lower body is squatting and twisting

There's nothing inherently wrong with these statements. The instructor is describing how they get themselves into the "correct" swing position.

But here's the thing...

You are not THEM.

You may attempt to recreate their feeling and end up in the completely wrong spot!

Luckily, with in-person instruction, the instructor can quickly correct your mistake. But if you are learning online, you don't have that luxury.

For example, let's say you are trying to achieve the correct P2 position (takeaway) in your golf swing:

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For me, to get in this position, I "feel" like my right hand is "lifting" the club up.

For some golfers, they may "feel" like their shoulders are rotating open. Or for other golfers, it may "feel" like they are opening the hips and letting the arms come along for the ride.

Every golfer "feels" something different to get into this "correct" position.

Concluding Thoughts: Match your "feel" to the image

Instead of copying another golfer or coach's "feel", you should figure out what the correct position looks like (see the swing positions glossary for this) and then match your own "feel" to that position.

Learn how to record your golf swing on video.

Remember, we learn golf in this order:

  1. Look
  2. Feel
  3. Train
  4. Maintain

We first see the correct position. Then we match our "feel" to it. Then we practice practice practice until it is muscle memory. Finally, we frequently "check" our positions to make sure things are still in a good spot. Your "feel" may change over time and that is okay!

And with that, I'll see you next week.

Hit 'em straight!

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