Learning from champions: A golfer's search for speed

When an athlete rises to the top of his or her game and then dominates or seems to be on the path to consistently finishing in the top spot, how should the rest of the field respond? In his interview after failing to make the cut in the recent Players Championship, Rory McIlroy brings this problem to light.

When ESPN Senior Writer, Bob Harig asked McIlroy about his frustrations, McIlroy responded: "Probably the swing issues and where it all stems from, probably like October last year, doing a little bit of speed training, started getting sucked into that stuff, swing got flat, long, and too rotational,''(ESPN, March 12, 2021)

For those of you not following golf, there is a young golfer named Bryson DeChambeau who has figured out how to swing as hard as possible and hit very long shots. Distance in golf is an advantage and distance with control even a greater advantage.

In any case, what now for the rest of the field? In my research of champion ski racers, I learned that great champions only focus on themselves and doing what they do better than anyone else in the field. That being the next…fill in the name… was never the way to the top. The simple reason is that how can you beat a person if you are trying to be their carbon copy?

Back when basketball player, Michael Jordan was at the top of his game there was an ad that used the line: Be like Mike. At the time I felt and even now I still believe that on the surface those 3 words were and are extremely detrimental to any young aspiring athlete. To suggest that the way to the top is to be like someone else is wrong. 

It may be that DeChambeau is at the cusp of changing golf for all future generations by turning it into a game of absolute power and it is also fair to assume that current golfers may be looking for ways to improve their games to keep pace. However, as McIlroy points out the attempt to change his swing in order to get more distance has been very frustrating. The question for any current professional golfer, now on the circuit – Should I spend my time trying to be like Bryson or should I continue pushing my own limits to become a better version of myself? 

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