February 9, 2007
The midwinter “golf season,” at least for Cape Region golfers, is usually limited to a few basic activities.
There’s the occasional 50-degree day that brings dozens of players out for a rare chance to play.
There are the opening events on the PGA Tour to watch, including favorites like this weekend’s Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
And finally, there are the seemingly endless series of TV infomercials for a wide variety of golf gadgets and fixes.
These 30-minute commercials follow a familiar, repetitive format–probably because it works.
There’s the exposition of the particular problem, such as erratic wedge play or bad swings. There’s an expert, showing us golf rubes how we could fix that problem with just one basic move—buying this “new” model of wedge or a teaching device. Then there are testimonials from professionals and amateurs alike (with helpful notations of their handicaps flashed on the screen), rhapsodizing about the magical qualities of the item on sale.
And, of course, the club or whatever it is can be bought for only x number of payments of only $x, with money-back guarantees.
Robert A. Prichard seems to have taken a hint from the marketing approach used by these infomercial merchants with his new book, The Efficient Golfer ($39.95 SRP).
This book is presented as a new way to use video equipment to identify swing flaws, as well as to promote Prichard’s suggested change in the basic golf swing.
After recording your swing with a camcorder set at 1/1000th of a second, you are told to mark up your TV screen during playbacks at different critical points. Measurements from those marks help determine how far from Prichard’s alignment rules you stray during your current swing.
Much of the rest of the book is devoted to explaining why Prichard believes the modern, restricted swing is no match for the flexible swing he prescribes.
As with the infomercials, Prichard uses various experts in movement, including himself, to make these points. A self-described sports engineer, he runs a training program that specializes in increasing flexibility and movement efficiency in several sports.
And as with the infomercials, there are testimonials from satisfied clients.
In addition, following the infomercial marketing methods, we are left to guess at what exactly we will be doing with some aspects of the particular remedy Prichard is selling.
In this case, he suggests repeatedly that most golfers should undergo what Prichard calls Microfiber Reduction. Although he tells his readers what microfibers are and how they eventually stiffen all but the rarest athlete, he’s not much on describing exactly what folks undergo in achieving this reduction. The most Prichard says is that it is an “exclusive form of connective tissue massage that improves flexibility far beyond what stretching alone can do….”
If you want to actually experience Microfiber Reduction, he’s more than happy to schedule an appointment, or to sell you a DVD as a longer introduction to its benefits.
Nonetheless, for those who aren’t so much interested in paying for a particular kind of massage, there are some other things to recommend about this book. Prichard makes a legitimate point about the limits of adopting the modern PGA Tour swing by weekend golfers. His alternative suggestion, that most amateurs should watch the efficient swings employed by most LPGA players, makes a lot more sense.
Those of us who have been to the Ladies’ events or watched them on the driving range should learn far more about how to maximize our own meager talents from watching them, compared to most golfers now starring on the PGA Tour.
The segment on putting should also be useful for many golfers, even those who forego the chance to pay for a Microfiber Reduction massage.
Even so, this book should be understood as part of a marketing scheme to convince its readers into signing up for the training and other programs offered by Prichard and his partners.
There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, as long as folks understand the inherent limitations of a book designed for this purpose.
Pete Oakley’s 2007 Season
Pete Oakley, Director of Golf for The Rookery in Milton, just missed qualifying for this week’s Allianz Championship in Boca Raton, Florida. His par score tied for 12th, a single stroke behind the group tied for the 6th through 11th spots in the Monday qualifying event held January 5.
As of press time, it appeared that there wouldn’t be enough drop-outs or no-shows to make a spot available for Oakley for this weekend’s Champions Tour event.