How the quest for the perfect golf swing can go wrong

Boyd Summerhays knows a thing or two about what it takes to achieve success at the highest level of competitive golf. Not only does he come from a famously talented family (both Boyd and his brother, Daniel, played professionally, and his uncle, Bruce, won three times on the Champions Tour), he’s also coaching Tony Finau, and his own children, including son Preston, who won the 2019 U.S. Junior Amateur Championship and is currently playing collegiately at Arizona State.

That’s why, when Summerhays gives advice, you know it’s coming from a place of deep knowledge and experience. And on this week’s episode of Off Course with Claude Harmon, Summerhays talked about one issue that he believes can negatively affect good players all too often: the quest for perfection in the golf swing.

“I was playing really good for a couple of years before I got my [PGA Tour] card,” Summerhays said. “I’d look at my swing on film once in a while. I wasn’t obsessed with it. I knew I was playing good, I knew I was hitting the sort of shots I wanted. After I got injured, I started bouncing around, instructor to instructor. And it got to the point where I was doing something for the first time in my career: I was trying to be perfect, instead of trying to play golf shots.

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“It got to the point where I was on the range all the time,” Summerhays continued. “But not on the range hitting shots or trying to learn shots, I was trying to get in all these positions. Pretty soon, it was really hard for me to score the golf ball. I was over the ball, my routine was longer. It wasn’t the same. You had so much more thought going through your head.”

Summerhays said he likes to use his experience as a cautionary tale for his students. His “rookie mistakes” of changing equipment manufacturers, caddies and coaches after suffering an injury ultimately pushed him out of professional competitive golf and into his current life as a top-tier coach.

“I always tell my kids, you train on the range as if it’s all technique,” Summerhays said. “And on the course, you play blank, you play free.”

For more from Summerhays, including the best way to prepare your kids for a future in competitive golf, and why Tony Finau’s long-awaited second win only made him hungrier, check out the full interview below.


As a four-year member of Columbia’s inaugural class of female varsity golfers, Jessica can out-birdie everyone on the masthead. She can out-hustle them in the office, too, where she’s primarily responsible for producing both print and online features, and overseeing major special projects, such as GOLF’s inaugural Style Is­sue, which debuted in February 2018. Her origi­nal interview series, “A Round With,” debuted in November of 2015, and appeared in both in the magazine and in video form on