Pitchers and Golfers
I’ve always thought that a baseball pitcher and a golfer are similar animals.
They’re both controlling a ball with speed and spin to hit a target.
Golf is not really a team game. Sure, there are golf teams … but golfers play as an individual. Not like football, basketball, hockey, soccer, etc … where the players are on a field passing a ball around to each other trying to score and trying to keep the other team from scoring.
And though the baseball pitcher is on the field with the team … he’s pretty alone out there trying to throw the ball past the other team’s batters. And they both use an individual way of starting the action - with a wind-up or a golf swing. They’re not reacting … they’re initiating the action.
The Minnesota Twins have a pitcher - Joe Ryan - who in a recent interview said “I love talking pitching. I love messing around with the baseball, manipulating it in the dugout, just getting that feel. Then I get back on the mound with all of that. It’s a good time.”
Come on … that sounds like a golfer. Later in the interview, he cites vertical approach angle and horizontal break. He also talks about reviewing video of recent outings compared to how he threw in high school with a more over-hand delivery. What makes Joe Ryan special as a pitcher is that he can throw a fastball from a fairly low angle and make it rise … obviously a pitch that is hard to hit.
Hopefully as golfers we aren’t trying to beat other golfers by getting them to swing and miss … but we are trying to beat them with controlled golf shots.
Like Joe Ryan, some of us love messing around with the golf ball. And love looking at videos of our swings and comparing our new swings with our old swings. Are we more upright than we were? Or flatter? Do we make a bigger turn? What is our angle of attack - more steep or more shallow?
A pitcher’s wind-up is a similar motion to a golfer’s golf swing. Both turn and shift weight to build-up power to be released through arm(s) and hand(s) to propel the ball at the target.
You don’t just stand flat-footed and motionless on the mound and throw a 90 mph fastball … and you don’t just stand flat-footed and motionless on the tee-box and hit a 280 yard drive.
Speaking of flat-footed … I played yesterday with my son Ryan. As I said last month, I’ve been working on lifting my left-foot and fully turning it on my backswing. Playing with Ryan was the test. He said that I was doing it and that my swing was better than it was last Fall.
Obviously you want stability in your swing … but you also need motion and athleticism. As we get older and less flexible … lifting the left-foot can help with making a better backswing-turn … and help with motion and athleticism.
My baseball pitching days are through … but I hope to play golf until old(er) age. Using that golf analogy … I’ve lost my fastball … but hopefully I can throw it over the plate.
GM/Head PGA Professional
Deer Run Golf Club
8661 Deer Run Drive
Victoria, MN 55386