Swinging a golf club and striking a golf ball involves a complete synchronization between body, mind, and implement. It starts long before you hit that first tee shot. It begins when you warm up your body to get your muscles in tune, when you begin to develop your mental and visual approach, and when you are practicing in the back yard and then on the driving range or the putting green, and it does not end when you have played eighteen holes.

Who do you think was or is the greatest golfer of them all? Bobby Jones? Ben Hogan? Arnold Palmer? Jack Nicklaus? Tiger Woods? Vijay Singh? Now, how many of these players did you say made nothing but excellent shots? Fact number one: The greatest champions of them all made more than their share of bad shots. What they did was make smaller percentages of bad shots than everyone else in the tournaments.

So, what makes you think you can play a flawless game with an absolutely flawless swing? Those players could not. Moreover, you cannot. Perhaps it is time for you to quit thinking about the perfect golf swing and start thinking of your golf swing, about your synchronization of mind, body, and equipment, and your percentage of good to bad shots. In addition, if you want to go from hack to golfer, remind yourself that you can make a better percentage of good to bad shots even if there is no way even Ben Hogan or Tiger Woods developed the perfect shot.

What you can develop is a swing that works best for you and sends the ball where you want it to go. It does not mean every time your club head hits the ball the ball will obey you. The elements have a lot to do with that. Timing has a lot to do with it. The course condition has a lot to do with that. Hit a perfect (you think) 200 yard launch and the ball can still hit an undetected rut or pebble on landing, sending it not further in line for a green approach but right into a nearby sand trap.

You can make yours a fluid, a smooth, an aggressive swing. Whatever works best through your balance of mind, body, and implements. The basics involve lining your feet properly-spread shoulder length at best, adjusted a little closer if you are using a long club, a little farther apart if using a short one. Interlock the index finger of your guide hand to the pinkie of your drive hand, focus on the ball, and (this is critical) keeping the heads of your clubs clean. One speck of dirt or debris in a groove and that lovely swing you have worked so hard to develop will look a lot better in the club arc than in the ball's flight. Come to think of it, your basics should include practicing diligently in the back yard before you even think about going to the driving range, never mind the local country club.

And, most important of all, your basics include keeping your mind relaxed even while you focus on the ball and where it is supposed to land according to your course plan.

Yes. Course plan. Nobody has to tell even the top championship golfers that they cannot play every course the same way. You cannot play every hole the same way, can you? Knowing your course and your clubs alike, you can plan a great game almost regardless of your swing. You know what you have to do to avoid dropping on the wrong curve of the double mound. You know which club you will need to fire one past the creek that lies gently between fairway's end and green's edge. You know how thick is the sand in the traps and how firmly to drive the sand wedge hand down to lift the ball up, out, and back onto the fairway or onto the green, depending; you know which greens are swift, which are slower, which are a little bumpy.

The most scientifically-developed swing, the prettiest swing, the cleanest swing, the most curvaceous swing, will mean nothing if you launch your game without your course plan.

Moreover, if you have someone stepping up to the first tee that has all that, it almost matters not what kind of swing he or she has. There was a reason why Arnold Palmer won a pocketful of tournaments in spite of a style that was described as attacking the course; there was a reason why Tiger Woods won a bushelful of tournaments even with a swing many called one of the most fluid they had ever seen. They knew the courses, they had course plans, and they developed the swings that were right for them.

Nobody ever accused them of having the perfect swing that does not really exist. Until you meet a golfer who has played a verifiable score of 18, you can relax, accept that the perfect swing does not exist, and give yourself a chance to develop the swing that works for you.