The practice of high handicappers soliciting swing critiques has become de rigueur in golf Twitter circles and popular Facebook groups like Dude Where’s My Par? Unfortunately, the pro bono feedback on these pleas for help tends to veer toward either good-natured ribbings or ruthless roasts rather than useable and well-considered advice.
Xander Schauffele’s software partner Hyland, a provider of enterprise content services and management systems, is restoring a little bit of decorum to the annals of social media driven swing assistance with their Share Your Swing contest. Golfers of all stripes including weekend hacks with chronic slice issues and duck hook prone duffers in dire need of swing aid can post a video (one minute or less) on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or YouTube using the hashtag #HylandContest to enter. Ten finalists will score autographed Schauffele merchandise while the winner will be treated to a personalized video with Xander and his father and swing coach Stefan serving up a full report card while keying in on the ‘X factor’ that will unlock their hidden potential and turn things around for them. The contest closes June 20, a minute before noon ET.
Hyland presciently made it a package deal when they signed on Xander including his animated father, who has since become a larger-than-life personality on tour, in on the partnership.
“One of the things that we talked about at the time was this idea of the team behind the team. It’s how we see ourselves with our customers: helping them be successful, coaching them behind the scenes and providing them with great software. We liked the idea of having Stefan there as the team behind Xander doing that same thing,” Ed McQuiston, Hyland’s executive vice president and chief commercial officer, says.
“In our business our customers are looking to go through digital transformations and they look to us for help and guidance in planning and execution. When it comes to golf, we all could use a little bit of assistance,” he adds.
As far as the criteria for picking out the finalists, this will be a far cry from a swing beauty contest. Hyland is simply searching for the genuine swings of players who could stand to benefit from expert advice.
“My dad’s been my only swing coach my entire life. I figured he’d get bored of just critiquing my swing so Hyland decided to tie him in and we’ll have a look at some other people’s swings,” Xander Shauffele says wryly while cracking his trademark room brightening smile.
One of the most common swing deficiencies Xander gleans from his encounters with average Joe golfers is a tendency to attempt to wallop the ball with as much might as they can possibly muster. While full-on ‘Hulk smash’ mode may be a decent strategy at a high striker at an amusement park, in golf it’s a common recipe for disaster.
“I feel that most amateurs try to swing really hard. When you try to swing too hard you lose range of motion for starters, you bunch up, tighten up, and all your muscles contract. When you swing a golf club you want be as smooth and almost as slow feeling as possible and that’s when you attain the most speed. It’s funny how that works,” Xander explains.
Watching pros swing and attempting to mimic their technique has become an increasingly common method for amateurs to learn how to play the game. 2021 U.S. Women’s Open winner Yuka Saso studied YouTube videos of Rory McIlory when she was 13 and modeled her swing off of the Northern Irishman.
While learning via video was huge in junior golf circles when Xander was coming up, Stefan did not allow his son to view footage of his own swing until he turned eighteen.
“The running joke was that I’d show him his swing if it was a good one, but I had not yet seen a good one or perfect one. The rationale was about learning true ball flight and coupled with that, being able to teach himself out on the golf course during a tournament. If something were to go haywire, he needed to pinpoint the exact cause,” the senior Schauffele explains.
“When all this video teaching came out and became really, really powerful I decided not to show him his swing so that he would focus much more on being able to self-correct himself,” he adds.
As a result, Schauffele took a very different road to finding success than players like Saso. Instead of cribbing swing notes off of superstars, he cultivated a swing of his own that would transform himself into one. But even the No. 6 ranked golfer in the world has at times strayed from this path when tempted by the technically flawless fruits of another.
“The one thing that all pro golfers have in common is that we’re all perfectionists. Unfortunately, our bodies don’t always work the way we want them to. Sometimes our feel versus real isn’t clicking and we’ll go down this deep, dark, rabbit hole trying to be someone that we’re not,” Xander explains.
“There have been times I’ve been guilty myself of trying to model certain positions or a certain look or feel from someone else I’ve seen on the driving range. It has worked, but at the end of the day it wasn’t me, it’s not me, and it wasn’t something that I could use consistently,” he adds.