The title and sub-title of my book evolved from some of my beliefs and sayings after many years of playing and teaching the great game of golf. Try using the explanation of the title and the analogies and thoughts below to help you understand and get through the sometimes painful and arduous journey to becoming a better player.

The “Puzzle” in “PuzzleDuck” comes from comparing the process of building a golf swing and game with putting together a jigsaw puzzle. A golf swing can be related to a puzzle in that it is hard to know what the completed puzzle or swing looks like until all of the pieces have been put together. With a puzzle, you fit a few pieces together, but certainly can not make out the picture (of course you know what the picture is, you looked at the box cover). Then a few more fit and then a few more, but still there is no full picture. Then you fit a few more and then some more and finally, through a significant amount of patience and perseverance you start to see some shapes and forms resembling the box cover. And so is a golf swing and the game as a whole, you make an adjustment, but the adjustment doesn’t fit with your previous swing and its compensations, so your shots change. They may be better, normally they are not worse, but they are different, and that can be unsettling. So you work on those adjustments, all the while cursing me for what’s happening, but we can’t see the results yet because we haven’t completed the puzzle. I do not have a magic potion. When you come back after a week of practice and have significantly improved the adjustment/s from the previous hour, we put a few more pieces to the puzzle in. As we continue to put the pieces together so do the results begin to improve and we start to see a clearer picture – better results. Please, do not perceive this to mean that there are individual parts of a swing. A golf swing is a continuous flowing motion. Adjustments in positions, directions, sequences, and angles can be worked on individually, but eventually must be blended together to form a flowing motion. As you put more and more pieces of the swing puzzle together, you become a more efficient ball striker. No one ever has and no one ever will always get all of the pieces to fit (we are human beings), but the more pieces that do, the more consistently you will see the picture and the more efficient and consistent your ball striking will be.

Not only does the puzzle apply to your golf swing, but to the game as a whole. Building and improving a “golf game” has many pieces that make the whole; bunker shots, chipping, pitching, putting, driving the ball, irons, recovery shots, course management, emotion management, physical limitations and fitness, equipment, and more. The PuzzleDuck logo has four pieces to the Duck. These four pieces represent the four components that, to me, make up peak performance: swing mechanics, attitude and course management, physical limitations and fitness, and equipment. The four parts make up the whole, and if there is a weakness in any part, the whole will be affected. So, the better each “piece” is, the more consistent and complete the player.

Golf swing and game improvement is a process; one that takes time, patience, and perseverance, which is where the “Duck” in “PuzzleDuck” comes from. I like to express this process and compare a students’ progress to that of a duck. I love to see a student and suddenly hear a quacking noise jokingly come from them as they pick fun of their migration. Ducks migrate, as do we making swing adjustments. The flaw or flaws in your swing are seldom if ever going to change to perfection in one swing or over night, but we are trying to migrate to perfection. We, as humans will never reach perfection and some will get closer than others, but the closer we get to perfection, the better the results. I like to compare the ducks migration to that of a student in transition/migration. Ducks start in the north (in the fall) and fly south. Their trek is long and full of hard work and frustration, but they keep flapping their wings, trying to get closer to their goal, their destination. They persevere through wind, rain, cold, heat, and any other element Mother Nature can throw at them, but they keep flapping their wings, getting closer and closer to their goal. If they could, I chance a guess that they would choose the magic of a Wizard’s potion to make their trip over in a flash, but that does not exist, so they keep flapping.

Compare the ducks migration to you and your improvement. Every practice swing or drill done correctly with a purpose to improve your swing is like each flap of the wings trying to get closer to a destination. After each drill or practice swing done correctly, with a purpose, and focused you are getting closer to your goal of improving your swing. It doesn’t change instantly, but you are migrating toward a better strike. The more you practice properly, the closer you get to the correct position or motion and the better you will perform. Understand that neither you nor anyone else will ever get to perfection every time, but the closer and more consistently you get to it the better and more consistent your golf shots will be. Migrate.

The original title to this book was going to be “There Is No Magic Potion, But Golf Just Doesn’t Have To Be That Hard”, which is a true belief of mine. “There Is No Magic Potion” comes from the many times I have used the words, “I do not have a magic potion to help improve your ball striking or game immediately”. If I did, I would be teaching golf for free on my own tropical island and everyone would be shooting par. Sure, I can give a “tip” lesson as can anyone, but that will not give you the consistency I like to instill in every student. What I do provide is reality, direction, enthusiasm, and hope for those prepared to improve over time. This, I guarantee; assuming a reasonable amount of effort is given by the student. My golf lesson for a full golf swing, lasts for a minimum of four hours, one hour taken once a week for four weeks {I do offer longer programs to include all aspects of golf, but four is the minimum for a full swing}. This gives us both a realistic opportunity to implement lasting adjustments. I make it clear to each student in the beginning that I do not have that “magic potion”, but need time to make adjustments that are effective and last. I have seen and heard too many horror stories from students that blame their demise and/or lack of improvement on “a” lesson they took from a Golf Professional. I try to explain that it may or may not have been the best lesson ever given, but it could have simply been that there was not enough time for the professional to make all of the adjustments necessary to achieve consistency.

There is but so much that can be done in one hour before any student is overwhelmed and paralyzed with information, only to become frustrated; loosing confidence in their ability as well as the professionals’. In the beginning stages of working with a student, rarely have I seen one hour be enough time to teach the swing to a point that the student truly understands and strikes consistently better golf shots. Sure, there are those that really only want to get a tip here or there that will help them get through the day without too much embarrassment, but for anyone who is truly trying to get better, one hour, simply will not do. After a solid beginning of at least four sessions and there is a solid base of understanding, a single lesson from time to time is an effective check up to make sure the student is remaining “on track”. This is not to say that four is the magic number, but a very solid beginning. I feel very confident that in four weeks I can help anyone feel better, improve, and understand more about their golf swing; but rarely in one hour.

One more time, there is no magic potion. Great golf doesn’t come overnight or without constructive effort, but over time and with purposeful practice. One more analogy I like to use is to think of your game as a snow ball. The snowball/knowledge starts small, but as you roll/learn along the snowball and you pick up more and more snow/knowledge. The snowball gets bigger and bigger as does your repertoire of shots and understanding of how to strike the ball more consistently and under control. This analogy does not only apply to striking a golf ball, but playing the game as a whole. There is so much to learn about playing the game that no one ever has known or ever will know it all, but the longer you play and the better student you are, the more knowledge you will pick up and the bigger your “snowball” will become.

The second part of the original title “But Golf Just Doesn’t Have To Be That Hard” comes from seeing people, amateurs and professionals alike, make the game of golf so complicated and confusing that it can be maddening. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that golf is easy to master, but I am saying it can be easy to enjoy and that people in general tend to over complicate the game, anything really, as a whole. As far as I am concerned, making a consistent effective golf swing is slightly harder than easy (figure that one out). But it is true; the game does not have to be made (as my friend John Maginnes would say) “harder than Chinese arithmetic”. People tend to struggle because they are not clear about what to do, over analyze and try to do too much at one time, do not have consistent positive direction, and have anxiety about change. It can be a never ending spiral of futility. There is so much going on in a swing, yet so little. It can be made as complicated as you like or as simple as you like. I choose to be as simple as I can be, with my students, as well as myself and will convey that theme throughout this book.

I can go just as deep about the potential complex motions of golf swings as the next guy, but do not feel that to be necessary, nor effective in teaching or trying to learn a swing or the game as a whole. In fact, the older I get, the less confusion I see going on in the technique of a swing, short or long, and the clearer the simplicity of the overall motion becomes. It’s not that hard! Striking a golf ball solid, straight, and consistent really can be made, flat out, “slightly harder than easy”, if you have the correct attitude, understand some simple technique concepts, and are patiently impatient (patient with the process, but not complacent). We must all remember that golf is a game of non perfections. No one hits the perfect shot every time! It is all about managing the emotions and imperfections of being a human and minimizing the amount of error in your worst golf shots. Playing the game as a whole is no different. Remember, simplify, be a duck, put the puzzle together, and let your snowball grow. Build a solid foundation and always migrate closer and closer to a more efficient swing and game with direction, adding to what you know and do. You will improve, it’s really not that hard!