I found this article to be quite intriguing as the season here is probably done unless you are into snow golf! As I read it, I became enamored with what these top teachers had to say and how it brought up memories of my first Golf Instructor 40 years ago who had some really wonderful insights into how he viewed the game. #3 was jarring to me actually and I do wonder if anyone had their golf instructors do this. My first 2 golf lessons we never got past lunch and cocktails, it was discussions about life, why I wanted to play the game, what I was looking to accomplish, if I played other sports, if I had a temper, how I dealt with competition, how hard this game actually is if you want to play at a decent level, how to conduct yourself on the course and in competition, how to just step on someone, how and when to needle someone, like walk up to a tee, when you lose the honor and just mention something like the woods on the right…lol ! Then #5,#7,#8. I can’t tell you how much he stressed putting, When I finally was ready for my first ball striking lesson (so I thought)… we spent hours and hours on putting, my first 3 lesson were on putting drills. I felt like I wanted to give the game up right then and there. I mean, I was thinking why don’t we just go to the Miniature Golf Course and aim at the windmill, not what I was paying for…I was feeling like this guy is taking me for a ride. Short, game, short game, short game! I can’t convey to you how much he stressed short game. Contraire to today… the philosophy of bashing the ball off the tee, trading up for a few more yards. He told me to never ask for or offer a tip on course, because 98% of the players you will play with are crappy, so what can they teach you? How to play crappy golf! The only tip I have ever given was to show someone proper technique out of a greenside bunker… I am so thankful for Mr. Bishop, he was an amazing teacher, always treated me well and never kept a secret. It was always up to me to practice and execute the secrets of the game and the swing. The biggest secret he ended up sharing was how I started 1 foot from the hole!
There are instructors that seemingly are all about that, ‘learning Life lessons vs diving into swing minutia’. Fred Shoemaker comes to mind as one.
I have not been to many teachers. But from having taught people myself (things other than golf, obv) I think it’s essential to gain alignment with the student’s goals. “What do you want to accomplish with this work?”, that sort of thing.
Totally agree on keeping the conscious lessons simple. “Hit that part of the ball, and keep my hands lower than my shoulders” is about as much as I can focus on during a swing.
Disagree a touch on the 5W; I’d advocate instead a higher-lofted driver (11-12), then go to a 4W, then something like a 3-4H/7W, whatever the gapping and student preference suggests. But avoiding the 3W is, I think, sound advice for most.
Completely agree with learning how to get off the tee/get the ball into the air first. Yes, short game is essential to scoring well. But this game is absolutely no fun at all if you can’t hit the ball. I’ve flat quit when I had a bad case of top-top-top, seemingly without end. The same isn’t true when I’ve missed putts or duffed chips.
Getting the ball into the air allows me to feel like I’m participating in the activity with everyone else, even if I’m not keeping score. If I can’t, then I feel like an outsider, someone who’s holding things up, and screwing up the pace and rhythm for everyone else in the foursome. Not fun.
But one good one I’ve heard is… if you’re stuck with someone who insists on, umm, “teaching” you just remind them to add a 2-stroke penalty to their card for offering advice during play
I do occasionally make a suggestion on course but not about technique for sure. Although I have read hundreds of golf instruction books, giving instruction on course can be destructive to the player in the moment. Remember the old psychology trick of asking your opponent ‘do you inhale or exhale with impact’. The advice I might offer which often seems needed when someone’s game goes awry is to slow down the swing a bit. Often after a couple of bad shots folks began swinging quickly as anxiety builds.
I would have loved to EVER had a golf teacher take any time talking to me about my goals, etc. before saying ‘let’s see your swing’. The first thing we learn in fitting clubs is to ask those sorts of questions. And every good book I learned about giving lessons suggests to ask about goals, how much time to practice, how much time are you willing to practice, etc. I would have love that approach!
Funny, my very first formal golf instructor was similar to yours in many ways.
I also thought he was taking me for a ride. $45 for 30 minutes of lesson in the late 70s was a lot of money. His style of teaching was mirror of Mr. Harvey Penick’s, Simple, and lots of conversation of life.
They say, this game mirror life itself. Back then, I could not disagree more. Thinking back, he was the best instructor I had had. My second instructor for golf lessons also was a Hogan Fan; I guess they all grew up in the 40s and the 50s to be influenced by the man.
Both of them had dabbled in professional tour and did not make a name for themselves. Without sponsors, it was very tough with the price money they offered back then. Very hard to sustain the touring life if only making cuts half the time.
We do not need to have a perfect golf swing to enjoy this game. In fact, one does not need a perfect golf swing to play competitive golf.
It is evident by observing the tournament play on broadcasted events.
Ben Hogan said he did not have a “good” golf swing so he needed to work harder.
Truth is, the basic skill of advancing the golf ball is a must have tool for the game.
After one acquired the basic tools, then we could consider the famous 6" between the ears theory.
Sad thing is, the limitation from one’s physical make up and eye-hand coordination will separate a good golfer from a better golfer.
I would never see a sub 65 round in my life on a regulation golf course. I know that. Simply because I do not have the distance required to achieve it. I’m 30 yards short of the tour average, from the 70s same as today.
The only persons who lack the physical gift, had made it to the top tear golf are Ian Woodsnam, Gary Player, and perhaps Lee Trevino, with Ben Hogan.
This young man on the leaderboard of the Open this year is 6’ 8". He could play basketball, baseball… but the taller golfers enjoy the game with the advanced new equipment which will fit them better. Picture of George Archer’s awkward posture swinging a golf club came to mind, he was 6’ 5 1/2". He would have won a lot more tournaments has he been fitted with the golf clubs.
Read all 4 books ( I think there is one which combines all the books ) of Harvey Penicks, the story and tips he told seemed so simply but will have lasting effect on your golf game as well as your life.
After watching my 30hcp mate trying to hit a hero shot I suggested some course management strategies.
Okay, now we could add Brain Harman, who was reported as 5’7". to the list of golfer made it without the obvious gift from birth.
Harvey Penick said in one of his book, a shorter golfer is like David against the Goliath in the field full of gifted athlete blessed with physical gifts from birth.
The practice around the green, chipping and putting are the stones and rocks ( sling ) of David’s.
They probably never practiced the “hero” shot.
It’s difficult to pull off a successful golf shot on the golf course if we had never done it in the past, at least a few times.
I’ll tell you the main reason Brian Harman won this tournament and won it convincingly. (AND why Tommy Fleetwood didn’t) Mr. Harman’s make percentage this week from 10ft putts on in was 98.2% That’s all, that’s it, End of Discussion! Not his height, Not his swing speed, Not anything else! 57 of 58! A hot pro will convert 75-80%…most pro’s in any given week high 50%. Yes, Harman struck the ball well, so did Rahm, Tommy lad, Rory, you name them. The Top 10 golfed their ball exceeding well over the last 4 days. 98.2% (he missed 1) there are only 72 holes… Anyone else want to argue with me that the MOST IMPORTANT PART OF THE GAME IS— PUTTING YOUR BALL WELL (meaning making them)!
Plays once a week, doesn’t warm up or practice and gets frustrated with less than perfect shots
LOL, that sounds like my golf game in recent years.
After a couple of major surgeries and near the age of a septuagenarian. As my friends said, we’re lucky to be able to get on the golf course. One guy went all out to golf at least half the days out of the week and starting to travel to golf courses and resorts within a day’s trip because he said, I don’t know how long I could golf.
I’ll accompany my family members, their friends and a few others to golf when I was asked to. But I’m lacking the motivation to get up before dawn and golf most the day, rain or shine.
Been there, done that. A cup of good tea and a nice book will give me some level of comfort. A sure sign of getting seasoned.
This person runs his own company so I guess is lucky to be able to golf every Thursday. Lots of 7 and 8’s. I am a big advocate of thinking about the best place to hit your next shot from. He is gradually coming around to my thought processing I shared the Lou Stagner email with him last week. It said if you only golf once a week you have a 47% chance of beating your average. It also says if your last round was yesterday you only have a 44% chance. That’s me!
So was the last year’s champion, Cameron Smith basically holed out everything he looked at.
I have to agree and disagree to a certain point. If a golfer could get the tee shot within a shorter range for the approach, he or she will have an advantage of scoring lower than the one further out.
Being able to advance the golf ball is still the number one goal every golfer is chasing. Sure, short game is important, in fact very important but it is not the completion of the game.
I’d take golfer B given the choice between a golfer A who has a fabulous short game but could not advance the golf ball well. Or a golfer B who posses a mediocre short game but has a long game over everyone else.
I hear this over and over again that drive for show and putt for dough. I’m assuming most the golfers who could not hit a drive over 250 yards will agree with this statement.
Short game could be practiced, but the long game is either one has it or one does not.
Looking at the reigning Open Champion, Brian Harman’s average driving distance is over 294 yards, That is not a large gap between his stats and the top top. The difference between the top 30 are just a few yards apart, not as the amateur lacking behind the professionals by 40-60 yards.
One interesting fact for the after the tournament discussion. Brian Harman is a Titleist staff member but he does not bag a Scotty Cameron.
One other element which elevate his putting during the Open was because he was in harmony with the surrounding. Sure was easier to execute a good game if one does not have to fight the environment.
This is part of a higher level game. some call this “in the zone”.
They have a name for this. Golf course management.
Ben Hogan was the one who openly discussed this and Tiger Woods practice this since his junior years of competition golf.
Maybe this person you mentioned is out for fun and exercise. He would start thinking how to score lower if he really wish to get a lowering average.
I golf with a few who are out on the golf course to see their friends and walk the golf course, to get away from their daily routine.
I also know quite a few who tried this game for a year or two after their retirement then gave up. Some with financial reasons and some with injury issue.
If one stays with this game long enough, one will figure out a way to max out his driving distance and improve his approach of this game for lower scoring average, until this is also maxed out because of the physical restrain and other issue that comes with aging.
To try to improve the scoring is having a goal, a destination for the journey. While others will enjoy this game for the companionship and the exercise, they wondering with the crowd but can also enjoy the view and smell the roses on their journey.
I call it course management as well. He can drive nearly as far as me but is more wild. Crappy short game. But when you are a 30hcp that is par for the course. Hopefully I help him by just being the better golfer and by him watching how I play my short game. He uses golf as an escape from the pressures of work.
30 index is not allowed in our group ( joking ). Not even a 25, with the recently retire new golfers, they start at 25 and we watch them closely at the weekly competition. Nothing major but theses guys treat the bragging right and the few dollars in the pull-pot very seriously.
Your buddy can learn from you and that was how most the golfers learned this game in the past, not from a launch monitor or digital analyzing software.
One thing that you could help your friend out is to show him the correct way of practicing on the driving range.
Always pick a target, may that be a wedge or a driver. This is how he could be more accurate through practicing.
There are two schools of learning this game. One advocate learning from the cup backward. Meaning learn to putt, chip pitch before the full swing. This is voiced by many of the teaching professionals.
One school is to let the student learn the full swing first, notably used the teacher of Jack Nicklaus, Jack Grout.
Whichever path one takes, one could solidify that part of the game and grow from it.
Just don’t take too much time like I did. Because it does not matter what you know or enlightened, this game is still built on the physical ability of a golfer.
It makes complete sense to a point to hit it as far as one can on Par 4 or 5 holes. The 7i on down to LW is the scoring club to get the rock onto the green and have a roll at it. If you can’t put it in the jar you will not score. I’m going to repeat myself here… I had a standing bet for years that I will put someone on every GIR 25 ft from the hole and you WILL NOT BREAK PAR, the caveat was I get to place the ball on that green. This was mostly done to prove a point to the 3-5 hdcp or above how bad we suck! 23 stupid people took me up on that bet… 23 stupid people DID NOT BREAK PAR! Holing putts… not gimmee putts, HOLING PUTTS is tantamount to scoring. I have been on a ball striking tear lately, My highest round in a month was 77, lowest was 73. If I could putt I’d be dangerous. I’m still averaging 32-33 Putts per Round. We added a new guy to our group (now I have a second opening, I’ll get to that later)… He bombs his ball 50-70 yards past me, but still hasn’t broken 80 playing with us. I’m working with him and how to better manage his game. I can putt OK compared to him… Last Saturday he 4 putted 1 hole and 3 putted 6 holes. So there it is… An all around game is very important, distance is important… THE MOST IMPORTANT all things being reasonably equal you gotta JAR YOUR PUTTS!..
Here’s the other thing…say a prayer for my long time playing partner of the last 17 years and his family… he passed away 7/16 on the sixth hole tee box. He bitched about missing a 10ft birdie putt on 5, got up on 6, he wobbled, turned around… We asked—“Bobby…you ok?” He said, “NO, I’m not.” Passed out and that was it. Life is short, family and friends are important, health is important, when it’s this hot…DRINK WATER! He died doing what he loved doing other than being with his family… I will miss my partner very, very much!
I don’t practice unless you call playing 5-6 times a week practice. He looks like he is wristy leading to sprays. He plays bogie golf for some holes but lacks consistency apart from being consistently bad. Lower your expectations and accept you are going to hit x number of less than perfect shots. that way when you hit a bad shot you can just say that was one of my x
When I needed to make a choice of practice on the driving range or get in an 18, I tend to spread them pretty even when I was younger, but in the last decade I would take the round over practice.
that is, unless I have something I’ll need to work it out or testing new equipment.
Sounded like your buddy needs some mentoring on the basic fundamental of this game. However, if he does not want to and enjoy the game anyways, so be it.
As one of the seasoned golfer said to me at one time. John said, But I am 80 and a lot of my friends could not even lift a golf club, not to even consider swinging it. This was after I tried to give him a few tips since he was relatively a new golfer back then.
John is still enjoying life and that includes golf amongst other things like cycling, rowing (coxswain), and hiking. He enjoys on the golf courses with friends but he has accepted the fact that he is not going to spend the time and the effort to improve his golf game.
So is Benny, who escape to the golf courses from his daily grind and family ( LOL so he said ). He is also not looking to improve his golf skills, by accepting his current game ( but he is continuing to change his equipment whenever there is a “bargain” promising more distance and accuracy ), Quite gullible, but he is enjoying the game.
So, yes, if your buddy wants someone to take a look at his golf grip and address position, which could bring him more joy to this game or he could just merrily go on his way and enjoy this game, like a lot of us.
Okay, I do agree with what you’re saying.
If everyone is playing from the same distance and tee boxes, do you think a guy has advantage using a 9 iron verses someone has to use a 5 iron?
This is why everyone on the professional tour, regardless of their physical make up, can all drive over 300 yards if they needed to.
when one is getting into that range, there is not a lot of meaningful difference between 295 yards to 320 yards. Not with most layout of the holes on the tour circuit.
But, there is a huge difference between a 295 yards drive to a 240 yards drive. Insurmountable difference which will separate a man from a boy as they put it.
Yes, the short game is important.
Quite a few time I golf with the young guys who could drive near or over 300 yards, and their 5/6 irons will be the go-to club for 200 yards.
But their pitch and chip and putting game needed lots of work.
Often I’ll leave them telling me that they “will beat me next time”.
But I tell you, if their short game was anywhere respectable, they’ll be beating me like a drum.