When I teach golf, I always keep Mike Furyk in mind. His son Jim, winner of the Doral-Ryder Open, is one of the best players in the world, although he has a highly unorthodox swing. Mike, a PGA teaching pro, had the wisdom to leave in place what his talented son did naturally. Too often, instructors do just the opposite.
The problem is, perfect doesn't exist. Look at Bruce Lietzke, with whom I roomed when we attended Houston and who was tied for the lead at Doral in the first round before finishing ninth. He has a bad grip, takes the club way inside and loops it to the outside on his downswing. Yet no Tour player requires less practice to retain an effective, repeatable swing. That's because all those strange moves are natural to Bruce.
Colin Montgomerie has a hip slide on his backswing that 99% of modern teachers would change immediately. He takes the club back outside, way beyond parallel, and finishes as if he's holding a sack of laundry. He has also finished first on the European tour's money list for seven straight years.
The list of imperfect swingers includes Nancy Lopez, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Lee Trevino. Even Tiger Woods, who has made some impressive swing changes in the last two years, won a ton of tournaments with a closed club face and a left foot that jumped sideways through impact.
Here's the point: A player with a manufactured swing usually lacks one vital ingredient—athleticism. I believe that because the unique moves that are part of so many of the swings of great players are natural, the players have faith they will hold up under the gun. As Trevino explained to me, "Nobody owns his swing like I own mine."
We should remember that, by definition, greatness implies difference more than sameness. Ask Mike Furyk.