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Compensations: You Don’t Need Them and You Can’t Afford Them

Compensations: You Don’t Need Them and You Can’t Afford Them
By Dr. T. J. Tomasi
Keiser University College of Golf Senior Faculty and Director of Research

Compensations You Dont Need Them and You Cant Afford Them
Most golfers don’t know where the ball is going because their swing is a patchwork of compensations.
Compensation develops when a swing fault occurs, and, instead of fixing that fault, golfers introduce a move to balance it out. It’s called compensation, because instead of eradicating the original mistake, some manufacture another move to keep the first error under control. The problem is that all compensations have a fail ratio that is over-sensitive to the circumstances, and, as Murphy’s Law dictates, the failure of the compensation inevitably comes at just the wrong time. The rule is: Put enough pressure on the compensation, and it will crack. What’s even more problematic is that all too often the first compensation breeds another compensation, and so on, until timing is under so much pressure that one’s swing goes south at the least provocation.

Any decent player can play their best golf when things are going well, but those with compensations have a tendency to collapse when the situation heats up. In fact, I’ve found it quite common for a student to hit the ball well during the lesson and on the practice tee, but not be able to carry that performance to the golf course. To prevent becoming what Tiger calls “a Ranger Rick,” a golfer’s goal should be to build a compensation-free swing so that they can be at their best when things are at their worst – that’s the sine qua non of a winner.

The Etiology of Compensation: An Example

During the takeaway, a golfer swings the clubhead well inside their body line, a move that closes their shoulders, so they point too far to the right of target. If they make a good swing the rest of the way, the ball flies far off line to the right of target. They’ll hit only so many shots to the right before they introduce a compensation, which in this case is to spin their shoulders in order to pull the ball back to the target. To counter the pull, they introduce another compensation where the front elbow juts out through impact to keep the face from looking left. It’s called the chicken wing and it works – except when it doesn’t work – then the ball is pulled dead left. So now they have the dreaded 2-way miss; i.e., they can miss it both left or right. There are three ways to play this game well: Aim left and fade it; aim right and draw it, and hit it straight, but no one ever played championship golf missing both left and right.


The Problem Is …. The overall problem is that unknowingly some golfers have built a swing composed of major league compensations that must be made and executed flawlessly in less than the half-second it takes to go from the top of their swing to impact. Good luck with that.

The Takeaway: One of the deadliest consequences of a compensation is that one must make a bad swing to hit a good shot. With a feedback system like this, the more practice, the more engrained a bad swing becomes. No wonder we hear golfers complain that “golf is sooooo hard” – anything would be hard to do well using this backward learning model. The solution for a swing infected by compensations is simple — we need to get pro-active and consult a professional teacher. Rather than piling swing compensation on swing compensation, we should visit one of the Keiser University College of Golf teaching staff who will outline our compensations and show us how to fix them.

If you’d like to study with Dr. Tomasi and other PGA Master Professionals, contact The College of Golf today.