Golf Tips from T Shot Ranch | Is the “Swing” the “Thing?”

By Janie C. Farina

“It Don’t Mean a Thing, if You Ain’t Got That Swing” – Music by Duke Ellington

How really important is having a “model” golf swing in playing the game of golf? If you’ve been watching Tiger Woods’s comeback from back injuries, the commentators are all raving about his improved golf swing. Not many golfers on this planet have the immense swing speed that Tiger delivers. “8.9 on the Richter Scale,” for certain … Tiger collapses the ball!

So why wasn’t Tiger’s swing a good enough “thing” to win the recent tournament? (Rickie Fowler ruled the day.)

Consider the components of game of golf employed during a normal round:

Teeing off
Fairway shots
Sand shots
Uneven lies, hitting out of the rough and over water, various trouble shots
Putting/reading the greens
Club selection
Rules and etiquette
Mental strategy for competitive golf

Quite the list, and I haven’t even talked about the swing yet.

While Tiger was making his debut, the player I have been coaching for 15 years was competing in a career defining tournament called Q School.

Does she have the perfect swing? Well, this girl smacks it longer than most men, but still experienced a severe meltdown due to nerves the first two days. Luckily, she followed up blasting two rounds of 67 consecutively.

So how does someone blow up for two days, then shoot two days of the best rounds of her career with the same swing all four days? The answer is simple — the swing is the instrument we play, set to the many notes, or conditions, that we compose to form the music of playing the game of golf.

I see people hitting golf balls on the range, day in and day out, searching for the perfect swing. When these same players play a game of golf, off the range, often their expectations get the better of them, and they are disappointed in their performance.

Just as my student cried out to me after those first two disastrous rounds: “My swing felt so good and I practiced harder than ever! Why did I bomb?”

My answer is simple: Having great swing is no guarantee for a great round. More importantly, expectation is signing up for disappointment, when what we really need out there is the discipline to focus on the conditions at hand.

To play the game of golf we would set to music, it’s not only about the instrument of our swing, it’s a symphony of the swinging motion, properly fitted equipment, educating ourselves with the various techniques and strategies required during a round, and above all, conducting ourselves to have appreciation for the fortunate outcomes, and evaluate” and rewrite the unfortunate notes for the next time (i.e.,focus!)

So for the player out there who has trouble carrying a tuned swing, remember, it’s not always about that “Thing,” the “Swing.”

Janie C. Farina is a 26-year LPGA teaching and club professional in Duval and St. Johns County. Email her at with comments or questions for future articles.