Are you Swing Smart or Skill Smart? Here’s why you need to be both

GOLF Top 100 Teacher Cameron McCormick says that, to become an elite golfer, you must be both swing smart and skill smart. Here's how

When you become both swing smart and skill smart, you can elevate your game!

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One thing that I’ve noticed about my golf game over the past six months is actually something really frustrating — and many of you might be able to relate.

With the help of a number of GOLF Top 100 Teachers giving me lessons, I’ve improved my swing mechanics and ball-striking ability — and my stats prove that I’m driving the ball longer, hitting more fairways, and have more consistent approach shots. But, oddly enough, my scores haven’t really improved all that much.

What gives?

GOLF's Instruction Editor Nick Dimengo shares how he's used the Game Golf KZN to help him shave strokes and get closer to breaking 80
I dropped 4 strokes simply by better understanding my ability
By: Nick Dimengo

Despite feeling like I’m a better player, I’m lacking the necessary next step to really elevate my game — something that Jordan Spieth’s coach Cameron McCormick contributes to being Swing Smart versus Skill Smart.

In a recent Instagram post (see below), McCormick describes the differences between being Swing Smart and Skill Smart, and emphasizes why it’s crucial to become both in order to elevate your golf game.

So for players like myself — who have become much smarter swing players in the past half-year — the next step to lowering scores is becoming Skill Smart. With the help of McCormick’s tips below, that’s possible.

How to develop your golf game to be both swing smart and skill smart

As mentioned above, my golf swing has improved tremendously, but the entirety of my golf game isn’t quite there yet — but that’s OK.

Since golf is an endless pursuit of consistency, using the advice from McCormick below can help players like myself develop the necessary attributes to get closer to that goal, which will lead to shaving more strokes off the scorecard.

Similar to soft skills versus hard skills on a job resume, McCormick explains the differences between being Swing Smart and Skill Smart — and claims the best golfers “develop these capabilities in parallel” in order to be elite.

1. Swing smart players

According to McCormick, Swing Smart players do the following:

1. Understand how their swing elements integrate to produce the desired outcomes.

2. Have a deep understanding of “known problems” — like what parts of their swing are fail points which help contribute to their poor shots.

3. They have “known solutions,” or corrective steps they need to take in order to fix errors.

4. They know what movement capabilities they have, and continue to develop what they can and/or maintain what they currently have.

The four points McCormick lists above describe many amateur players who are probably stuck in that mid-handicap level. But in order to take the next step into serious improvement, he suggests developing the skill smart tips below.

2. Skill smart players

By incorporating the following along with the aforementioned Swing Smart information, you’ll sharpen your skills in a way that you’ve probably never tapped into before.

Here’s what Skill Smart players do well:

1. Understand the “laws” of ball contact, flight, and spin/roll. They develop a high golf IQ, mindset, and perceptual abilities.

2. They know that skills trump style, with the latter serving to produce the skill. So if the skill is there, they don’t worry about how it looks.

3. They prioritize their swing style into training, and understand that it isn’t what a swing/stroke looks like, but how it performs for them to shoot the lowest score.

4. They adapt their training, and build versatility within different skill sets. This ensures that they have multiple solutions to any challenge they may face.

So if you’re like me and are experiencing a little bit of a rut when it comes to scoring lower — but still have the swing fundamentals you need to produce better results — start digging into McCormick’s suggestions on becoming skill smart.

Instead of just using a certain club from a certain distance, you’ll begin to dive deeper into things like ball flight and spin, knowing you have the ability to hit a good shot because you’ve prepared yourself for any on-course situation with your practice routine.

I hope this helps you improve and take the next step in reaching your golf goals!

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Nick Dimengo Editor