Nick Faldo was once one of the greatest players in the world, but now he really struggles. I've been asked about this, and I say he's been overcoached. He has paralysis by analysis. Winston Churchill once said, "Trust instinct to the end, though it will render no reason." In other words, no matter how many lessons and bits of advice you receive from coaches, you still have to play with a certain amount of instinct.
One day in 1973 while playing in the Brazilian Open, I felt bold enough to call Ben Hogan at his home in Fort Worth and ask him for a quick piece of advice about the swing. He said, "Gary, who do you work for?" I told him Dunlop, and he said, "Well, then, ask Mr. Dunlop," and he slammed the phone down. Maybe that was just his way of telling me what he always said, that the secret to a good swing is in the dirt, which means hitting balls. Though Hogan picked up bits of advice, he worked his problems out himself until he had a complete understanding of his swing.
I'm concerned that some of these talented young players have their coaches with them all the time. That would drive me nuts. I never saw Hogan or Sam Snead or Jack Nicklaus with swing coaches following them around like flies. I saw one guy at the Masters, so help me, who had his coach with him on the practice tee, on the chipping green, in the bunker, on the putting green. Suddenly he was on the 1st tee, and he was looking around. I thought, Where's your coach now?
Slumps are inevitable, but whenever I had a problem with my game I'd go to someone who knew me as well as my swing. Early in my career it was my father-in-law, Jock Verwey, at my club in South Africa, and lately it has been my son Wayne, but I always looked at these sessions as tune-ups. No teacher can completely fix a player's problems. The ultimate answer is in the dirt.