Nick Faldo was once one of the greatest players in the world,
but now he really struggles. I've been asked about this, and I
say he's been overcoached. He has paralysis by analysis. Winston
Churchill once said, "Trust instinct to the end, though it will
render no reason." In other words, no matter how many lessons
and bits of advice you receive from coaches, you still have to
play with a certain amount of instinct.
One day in 1973 while playing in the Brazilian Open, I felt bold
enough to call Ben Hogan at his home in Fort Worth and ask him
for a quick piece of advice about the swing. He said, "Gary, who
do you work for?" I told him Dunlop, and he said, "Well, then,
ask Mr. Dunlop," and he slammed the phone down. Maybe that was
just his way of telling me what he always said, that the secret
to a good swing is in the dirt, which means hitting balls.
Though Hogan picked up bits of advice, he worked his problems
out himself until he had a complete understanding of his swing.
I'm concerned that some of these talented young players have
their coaches with them all the time. That would drive me nuts.
I never saw Hogan or Sam Snead or Jack Nicklaus with swing
coaches following them around like flies. I saw one guy at the
Masters, so help me, who had his coach with him on the practice
tee, on the chipping green, in the bunker, on the putting green.
Suddenly he was on the 1st tee, and he was looking around. I
thought, Where's your coach now?
Slumps are inevitable, but whenever I had a problem with my game
I'd go to someone who knew me as well as my swing. Early in my
career it was my father-in-law, Jock Verwey, at my club in South
Africa, and lately it has been my son Wayne, but I always looked
at these sessions as tune-ups. No teacher can completely fix a
player's problems. The ultimate answer is in the dirt.
Gary Player, 63, has victories in each of the last five decades.
COLOR PHOTO: JACQUELINE DUVOISINFree swinger Player sees too many teachers on Tour.