to hell with lessons
Has anybody ever gotten anything out of a golf lesson? I happened to be playing some of the best golf I’ve ever played when I made the mistake of taking a lesson. The pro completely changed my grip. I went out the next day and played the worst golf of my life. And the next, and the next and the next. I wore calluses on my fingers, finally said the hell with it. I went back to my old incorrect grip and now I’m close to playing like I was before the lesson.
Casey Eberling said only about one golfer in a thousand has the ability to improve from a lesson and that most golf instructions kills golfers’ ability to learn. Of course, that was sort of a come-on for his own school, but I just wonder if the whole thing is a big scam. The golf swing is one of the most idiosynchratic phenomenons in all of sport. I’m not sure it can be “taught.” I have a column coming out on this soon.
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Let me tell you the truth about lessons. If you are stupid enough to take a lesson when you are playing well, than you deserve to play poorly after making a swing change. Second, the pro that took your money, should have asked you before hand how you were playing. In any case, it is you behind the wheel, when it comes to your game.
There is an old adage in regards to instruction that I believe applies in your case, "The teacher appears when the student in ready." If you aren't ready and don't feel you can learn and benefit from a lesson - then you are probably right; and you (and your instructor) are probably better off if you stay away from the lesson tee.
Patti McGowan PGA & LPGA 11/1/04 6:20 AM
All golf swings are different in many ways and all grips are not the same. Bodies and personalities are different. Each golf theory must be custom fitted to each student.
Just be careful who you take a lesson from. If you were going to hire a person to build a house for you, you would want to see some houses they had built. "Before you take a lesson, ask to see some swings or success stories. If you don't, they buyer beware.
1st, let me say best of luck to you and others who take lessons in the future.
Let me give you a brief description of what I do when you take a lesson from me.
1st, I ask you a series of questions, such as. What are you looking to change? Why are you looking to change? What are your goals?
That is just a start. I have worked with many students and have been very successful in helping them with their golf game. One example I have taken a person from a 23 handicap down to an 11 in one year. He won his division in our club championship and he won his division in a 3 day member guest tournament.
Don't expect a miracle pill it is an on going process.
For those of you who go to the Dr. and tell him you are suffering from a couch, and he prescribes a bottle of pills DON’T TAKE THE ENTIRE BOTTLE!
Enjoy the journey! You golf game did not get to where it is today over night!
I'm sorry to hear that your lesson didn't work out. I've been teaching and coaching for 33 years and I have given thousands and thousands of lessons.I have had many, many sucesses but I confess that there have been times that I mis-diagnosed the problem or failed to communicate the correct information. As a golf instructor, I ask you to forgive us as we forgive our doctors, car mechanics, and meteorologists. Good luck to you in the future.
I have hundreds of emails from students who have been through my school and improved tremendously, which I will be happy to furnish on request!
Director of Instruction
The Phil Ritson - Mel Sole Golf Schools.
Lessons can make this tough game rewarding, for at the end of the hard work is the accomplishment of your golf goals.
Teaching Professional PGA/LPGA
You must be a Red Sox fan, too. Last week I had a lady participating in one of my clinics who was wearing a Red Sox cap. I asked her if she was excited about the upcoming Game 4 that evening. She scoffed and said, "oh I'm not worried--we'll lose". Her negativity struck everbody as ridiculous. Surprisingly, this same lady started hitting great shots on the practice tee when she lightened up a bit and started smiling on occassion. Perhaps you should try the same?
Glad to read the comments from my colleagues,
Cody Barden, PGA
Patrick O'Leary, Class A PGA Professional
Beverly Fergusson, LPGA Member
Very true statement when I make a change in one of my students first I make sure that they understand why the change needs to be made and what cause and effects will come from it. Also, they need to know that the golf swing is made up of habits or mucsle memory and it takes time to change from one habit to another and the only way of making the necessary change is to practice. Good luck in your ventures.
Brad Sponseller PGA Apprentice
and most Teachers are trying to give a quick fix. I am not saying that you cannot improve with a quick fix, the secret of quick fixes is that you have to practice it before it works. Most golfer's swing the golf club using there own god given ability and habits they have aquired over the years. I beleive with the openness of making a few changes and practice and the understanding of the machanics of the body and the machanics of the golf swing all golfer's will have the opportunity to improve.
I have some question for you. Why did you take the lesson in the first place if you played so well? To take a lesson, you need to have a goal. Did you tell your instructor what you wanted to improve? If you did, was that accomplished during the lesson?
I do agree with you that a golf swing is not the most natural logical thing for a human being to do and therefore is very hard to "get a grip on". That is the reason you can not learn it in one lesson. To be a good student, you need to have dedication. A lesson is not a car mechanic that can fix it directly. When you take a lesson, you learn what you need to practice on to get better. Good luck in the future.
Eva Sallgren Head Pro LPGA member/PGA Apprentice
Come see me and I'll maximize your assets and minimize your liabilities in the golf swing...guarenteed!!!
Director of Instruction
Pebble Beach Resorts
Well with reference to your statement that golf lessons are useless. Pshhaw...
You also should be ashamed of yourself, I thought GOOD journalists we suppose to be impartial, unbiased and only write the truth ! You have undoubtedly categorized yourself as a man that has lowered himself to placing all PGA and LPGA Professionals into one category. That would be like me saying, that all journalists don't know what or how to write, and I am sure there are many journalists that are feeling their stomachs turn into knots at the slight refernece that you may be a journalist of any sort.
Oh, did you by chance make sure if the instructor was a PGA or LPGA Professional, probably didn't event take the time did you! I am certain that he was, but none the less just wanted to make sure that you did check.
Also wasn't it you that went for the lesson to make a change? I didn't read anything in your notes that said the instructor approached you! So WHO really made the change, certainly it wasn't the instructor, but you. He only made a suggestion. You obviously had the opportunity to NOT accept the changes in the beginning.
Now as for me, and I am sure probably all True PGA or LPGA professionals who have read your comments. Did you ask what type of guarantees the instruction would have upon your improvement? Again Probably not.
From a personal and Professional perspective, I always offer a personal guarantee to the student, that if what I am teaching does not improve his ball striking, understanding, and playing abilities, then their lesson is free. The caveat there is, they MUST practice what they have been taught. Oh, and I back what I say and teach with demonstration and proof. Do you offer any guarantees or proof on your writings and that they are effective and worth reading? I doubt it. And how many professionals do you know that offer that guarantee?
Hey Mr Editor oh wait you are the editor...Hey Mr Publisher, did your editor give you any guarantees?
Tim, should you or your Publisher wish to come for a free golf lesson that will indeed work, let me know, oh and I'll do it on national TV if you choose, just set it up.
I am willing to put it all out there, ARE YOU?
you know where to get a hold of me.
Robert L Nunn
Navy Golf Course
I can only assume that your article is a joke because most people in their right mind would not look for instruction if they were playing their some of the best golf of their life. As many have mentioned before me a good instructor would find out what are the students goals and put together a plan that would correct any of the students swing errors and tendicies. As for the comment of only one golfer per thousand have the ability to improve and most golf instruction kills their game-----well how about you and Casey just start playing Tennis and let real Journalists write about Golf.....
Dr. Jim Suttie Golf Academy
Green Garden Country Club
I look forward to your forthcoming column on the golf swing. I expect it will be more insightful than your current musings. The nub of "to hell with lessons" is not that golf lessons are a waste of time but rather your admission and preference to continue to play with an improper grip. I would hazard to say that 1 out of 1000 aspiring golfers simply hold a golf club incorrectly, a habit that comes without having received formal golf instruction in the first place.
I expect that your instructor showed you how to hold a club correctly but more importantly explained to you why it is so important for you to adopt a proper grip. But like so many others, after your lesson you said "the hell with it" and reverted to your "incorrect" grip. But whether you choose to play with a proper grip or an improper grip, the key is to have fun playing the game.
I would strongly advise however,that should you be hitting bad shots you not resort to the remedies proffered by one of your colleagues on this site; they being, "to order a drink, swear, throw your club, abuse your partner or remain as a ticking time bomb". I am most certain that no golf instructor worth his/her salt would suggest such corrective measures!
And who's in charge of the learning? The learner. The teacher is in charge of the learning environment. I'm guessing there wasn't much exploration, experimentation, adventure or trust during your lesson. And if the learning environment is not safe enough to explore or experiment, then the students will be too fearful to stretch or challenge themselves--they'll try too hard to do it "right" and block any feedback from their bodies, the club or the ball by overtightening...If the teacher doesn't trust the student to learn, why should the student trust themselves? Human beings are natural learners, it's built into their DNA. The teacher just has to guide them a bit and get out of the way. Learning to swing a golf club doesn't have to be hard; it should be as natural as learning to walk or throw a ball. It seems to me that we learn best when we learn by doing, instead of thinking about doing.
One more thing...I would change your headline to "Forget all you THINK you know; just grip it and rip it" If you have to try to remember tips or instructions while you play or practice--instead of focusing attention on the differences in feel of a swing that works and one that doesn't--then you really don't know. The body doesn't need more instructions on how to swing a golf club--it needs accurate, moment-by-moment feedback on what the clubhead is doing...and it needs relaxed concentration on the differences in each swing.
I am sure you haven't attained your present position by being stupid, so I must assume you have achieved your goal of eliciting a variety of comments by golf teachers from near and far by your irony concerning golf lessons. What's next? A letter from a teacher stating they will never read another article by a golf editor?
There is, of course, some truth to your story. Regardless of the objectives of the lesson, regardless of the student's disposition to learn, and regardless of the teacher's knowledge or ability to communicate, one fact stands out: the lesson changed the grip. And the grip is the first and most important cause of the golf swing because it has an effect on every other aspect, including alignment and set up as well as body positions and body movements.
Two persons would play the day after a major grip change: one bereft of reason and intelligence, and an egotist who believes his ability is so great as to overcome the effects of so drastic a change. Just the mere pressure of performing, of hitting fairways and greens, will make any golfer revert to old habits and vitiate the benefits of any lesson. Trying to play without practicing sufficiently to assimilate the new grip and its effects is sheer folly.
I agree with you 100%. I think you should find your answers the same way us golf pro's do. Good old fashioned hard work and hours and hours of practice. The late Ben Hogan was asked by someone how to fix a slice, and Hogan just pointed to the range and said" The answer is somewhere out there in the dirt..........go find it."
Our game should be simple, understandable, easy, and a joy for a lifetime. In order to accomplish this goal we need to understand that the swing has got to be something that just happens, without conscious thought. Whenever we hit a good shot, invariably it is because we are not thinking.
The swing is not a bunch of parts. It is a full swing back and a full swing through. As with all great golfers the head stays reasonably still. The swing is smooth. The swing is grooved through practice. The swing is powerful with no display of effort.
You can't buy a golf swing. Most golfers believe that they could benefit if they could take lessons from the golf coach of a top tournament professional. Most golfers think that golf resorts, books, and lessons from PGA golf pros will help. Instead they only add to more frustration and confusion....and are a waste of money.
Countless numbers of golfers have read dozens of books, viewed scores of videos, taken more than one series of lessons and yet they still haven't found their swing.
If one could buy a golf swing, millionaires would have great swings. Those who have spent a great deal of money trying to "buy a swing" do no better than the rest of us.....or as well!
Can you fix your own slice, drive over 250 yards, break 80, and play with a decent amount of consistency? Is your swing low maintenance? Will it serve you well for a lifetime?
All that is needed for a great game is adhering to a few sound and proven principles and lots and lots of practice.
McLellan School of Golf.
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