Viktor Hovland: how an unnecessary tailspin came to an end for the Oklahoma star 

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Viktor Hovland enjoyed the most prolific season of his career in 2023 after he recorded three PGA Tour victories on his way to winning the lucrative FedEx Cup.

The Norwegian also delivered the second-highest individual points tally at the Ryder Cup in Rome, laying the foundations for Europe to beat the United States at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club.

At the end of this unprecedented run of success in 2023, the Oklahoma State graduate and proud Cowboy had pocketed $27 million.

Evidently, Hovland had found the key to swinging a golf club; a pursuit that most professionals and amateurs spend their lives trying to conquer.

However, having solved the seemingly unsolvable puzzle, the entire golfing world gasped when Hovland announced that he had fired his swing coach Joe Mayo at the end of 2023. The overriding question was: why?

The dangerous pursuit of perfection

The short answer is that Hovland felt like his game had plateaued, which was a problem for him as he wanted to win majors.

Still, most observers will feel that it was an extraordinary conclusion to come to when he was trending towards a major win after coming seventh in the 2023 Masters and second in the 2023 PGA Championship.

It was surely a matter of when and not if, but having not won one yet in his career, the 26-year-old opted for a swing rebuild under the watchful eye of new coach Grant Waite.

By implementing such drastic change on the back of his most successful year as a professional, Hovland had gone against the timeless advice of deciding to fix what was not broken. The former Stillwater resident soon found himself tumbling down the world rankings.

Hovland was unable to record a top-ten finish in the first five months of 2024 which was in sharp contrast to his nine finishes in the top-ten in 2023. Moreover, until the PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club, the Norwegian’s best finish was 19th.

The decision to change swing coaches had been a disaster that culminated in a Masters meltdown after missing the cut. The events at Augusta National led Hovland into a U-turn by calling Mayo in and asking him if they could work together once more in the build-up to the PGA Championship a month later.

Mayo, happy to let bygones be bygones, said yes. It was as if by magic, Hovland would go on to finish third in the PGA Championship.

From a distance, it’s easy to criticise Hovland’s decision and say that the last five months of his career have been wasted. Alternatively, you could say that the Norwegian was brave enough to leave his comfort zone and try to achieve even greater success by switching to a more textbook swing.

When to rely on textbook guides

Either way, it’s a cautionary tale about coaching the natural ability out of a player and placing all your faith in how-to guides. This isn’t to say that all how-to guides should be discarded; absolutely not. They can serve a valuable purpose in many areas of life.

For instance, you can find value in guides that help you master a new software program if you’re technology-driven. Similarly, you can learn how to cook a gourmet meal if you’re a budding foodie. Even for avid gamers, understanding the nuances of online casino sites through comprehensive guides, like those provided by casinoalpha, can be beneficial.

However you choose to gather new information, the wider point is that when it comes to sports, these manuals can run the risk of overloading the brain with data and stifling a player’s innate ability. This is particularly true when athletes have succeeded away from textbook coaching practices.

Hovland’s swing is unique and but that doesn’t matter; the only factor to consider is whether it’s effective – the answer is unequivocally yes. And who is to say whether the decision to try to get even better was wrong, it just didn’t work out this time. With his inquisitive nature, Hovland may be making tweaks throughout his career.

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