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29 comments

Comment from: Cass Colbourne. PGA [Visitor]
Tim,
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.
2004-11-01 @ 03:37
Comment from: Patti McGowan [Visitor]
Tim,
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
2004-11-01 @ 07:16
Comment from: Jeff Gibson PGA [Visitor]
No one should go to an unknown pro and place their golf game in their hands until they have a reason to have faith in what he/she are saying. Many, many professionals change things just because that is what they do. Many, many professionals do not really care what their students are shooting. It is not up to the student to tell the pro what he needs to know. It is up to the pro to ask.

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.
2004-11-01 @ 07:21
Comment from: Eric [Visitor]
Tim
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!
2004-11-01 @ 08:18
Comment from: Dan Hager, PGA Head Professional [Visitor]
Hi Tim,
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.
2004-11-01 @ 08:48
One of the first things we do as instructors is find out what you wish to accomplish from your lesson. We then are going to ask you if we are seeing you for only one time, or is this going to be an on going learning process for you and for the instructor. Through a series of well orchestrated questions, a good instructor will know what road to take you on. Then this learning process is a player/coach relationship. We are a team learning this. Good luck with your game in the future.
2004-11-01 @ 09:02
Comment from: Mel Sole [Visitor]
I think Casey Eberling's statement that one in a thousand golfers improves with lessons is one of the most stupid statements I have ever heard! Does everyone improve with lessons - no, however, with good instruction, good practice and understanding the learning process, almost everyone can benefit from golf lessons. Note I said golf lessons with an "s" Anyone who thinks they can take one lesson and improve does not understand golf. If Tim's game got worse, he should have gone back to the pro and said "Hey, listen, this is not working, what else do I need to do to improve?"

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!

Regards,

Mel Sole.
Director of Instruction
The Phil Ritson - Mel Sole Golf Schools.
2004-11-01 @ 09:34
Comment from: JoAnne Lusk [Visitor]
You are right--it is difficult to improve your game with a lesson. You are responsible for your game and your education. If you choose a pro by interviewing him/her, put yourself on a program which improves deficiencies and enhances strengths, and set long term goals golf instruction is good. Random lessons may provide a little help but takes time to sink in. A pro is only as good as the student allows them to be. No one can impose instruction on a student who is not willing to work with concepts and integrate them into their game. I have been teaching for over 30 years and have many long term successes and few one-lesson wonders. I hope people reading this article don't take the attitude of the author. Golf is a complex game and learning is gradual and not only physical but mental.

Lessons can make this tough game rewarding, for at the end of the hard work is the accomplishment of your golf goals.

Sincerely,

JoAnne Lusk
Teaching Professional PGA/LPGA
2004-11-01 @ 09:47
Comment from: Cody Barden [Visitor]
Tim,
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
2004-11-01 @ 10:49
Comment from: Patrick O'Leary [Visitor]
Personally I believe that all learning must include the goals, desires and hungers of the student. I also believe that golf professionals should aspire to a form of Hippocratic Oath to do no harm. During your lesson, the need for the grip change should have been adequately explained. If you did not understand and buy into that need, there was no reason to work on it. All you would lose is one lesson fee and, for that cost, you would have learned where not to go for your next lesson. If you did understand the need for the change, and desire it, it is then your duty to commit with more practice and lesson time. The golf teacher is there for many reasons, most often to watch the swing, to clarify the huge amount of mass-media instruction and eliminate the useless parts of it, and point a student in the right direction to practice. The student's communication is a large part of that.

Patrick O'Leary, Class A PGA Professional
2004-11-01 @ 11:11
Tim, Please do us all a favor and take "A" piano lesson. And when you are finished please let all of us know, especially those in the Music Industry just how it went and just how good you got for that single lesson. Elton John, Billy Joel and even 5 year old Julia had to hit a few bad notes on their way to perfecting the piano. Keith Johnson PGA Prfessional Lake Spanaway GC Tacoma WA
2004-11-01 @ 11:33
Comment from: Beverly Fergusson [Visitor]
Hogwash! There are good lessons and bad lessons...I'll agree! But let's look at why you went for a lesson in the first place. Improvement in scores require an open mind and doing the homework before you take the test! If you fail the test then maybe you should question if you are being a good student. Don't know if I would find hope for improvement in Casey Eberling's negative style for his classes....sorry. Thanks for stiring it up and making the student question....and for hearing our comments.

Beverly Fergusson, LPGA Member
2004-11-01 @ 11:57
Comment from: Brad Sponseller [Visitor]
I was in a Pro Shop one time in Florida and there was a sign behind his counter with lesson prices on it. It read, "Series of four lessons $100. One lesson $1,000,000 if you want a miracle you must pay for a miracle."
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
2004-11-01 @ 12:22
Comment from: Richard Brandolini, PGA [Visitor]
I have read you article and find it in my opinion to be incorect. I beleive that all golfer's can improve with the prorer lesson. Most golfer's are trying to find the quick fix
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.

Richard Brandolini,PGA
2004-11-01 @ 12:23
Comment from: Eva Sallgren [Visitor]
Tim,
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.

Sincerely,

Eva Sallgren Head Pro LPGA member/PGA Apprentice
2004-11-01 @ 13:17
Comment from: Dan Pasquariello [Visitor]
Tim,
Come see me and I'll maximize your assets and minimize your liabilities in the golf swing...guarenteed!!!
Dan Pasquariello
Director of Instruction
Pebble Beach Resorts
2004-11-01 @ 13:21
Comment from: Michael [Visitor]
I have never had a person that took a series of lessons that didn't lower their handicap. People that take one and quit have no right to say that lessons don't work. These are the same people that never get any better after their fourth of fifth year anyway, and then start finding other things to blame their game on....clubs, courses, weather...etc. To hell with lesson critics!!!
2004-11-01 @ 14:01
Comment from: Nicholas Mabry [Visitor]
The key to the golf lesson problem is that 95% of golfers are not willing to commit to any of the changes recommended by their golf professionals, that would in fact make them better players in the long run. If you want golf MIRACLES try playing golf on a video game. In your case you can count on playing bogey golf with your current grip, with TEMPORARY flashes of brilliance. Rest assured, the grip that you were told to LEARN to like (originated by Harry Vardon in the Early 1900,s), is the grip that nearly every tour player in the entire world is using. I wonder if that is a coincidence? These players experience long term brilliance with TEMPORARY flashes of mediocrity... Stop wasting your golf pro's time and be satisfied with your current level of golf. Please consult the history books for the number of tournaments Harry Vardon won before all of the other Professionals of his era decided to switch over to his style of grip.
2004-11-01 @ 14:20
Comment from: John Slater [Visitor]
I began playing golf like many people do: drinking beer with my buddies and ramming the cart into the greenside guard fence. I picked up a number of bad habits, and still managed to enjoy the game enough to want to play better. So I saw a pro, and I, too, believed my game was getting worse. In fact, I was starting from day 1, the way I should have started initially. 8 years later, (and probably thousands of dollars) I have a repeatable, reliable swing that garners compliments from complete strangers at the range. Was it worth it? I feel that it was, and have a few golf trophies to back it up.
2004-11-01 @ 14:33
Comment from: Robb Nunn [Visitor]
HI Tim;

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.

Sincerely
Robert L Nunn
PGA Professional
Navy Golf Course
Cypress, CA.
2004-11-01 @ 15:47
Comment from: John Platt [Visitor]
Timmy,
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.....

John Platt
PGA Professional
Dr. Jim Suttie Golf Academy
Green Garden Country Club
2004-11-01 @ 21:38
Comment from: Jim Williams-PGA [Visitor]
Today I saw 39 players with 39 different swings on the first tee. Everyone has a different approach to a golf shot. Right after a golf lesson, your focus is on golf mechanics. You are thinking about how you are holding the club, where you are swinging it, and not focusing on the target. You have to understand that after a lesson, there will be a short time period where your game may get worse before it gets better. A good golf instructor will help you develop a routine approach, focus on the target, and to relax when you swing the golf club. He or she will give you practice drills to help improve your skills, but you have to practice. It won't happen overnight. Most bad shots come from bad or negative thoughts. Don't beat yourself up on the course. Get positive and you will see positive shots. Besides, what is the worst thing that will happen to you if you hit a bad shot? You get to hit it again. Its not like someone is going to slit your wrist for hitting a bad shot. Take the negativity out of you game-you will be amazed.
2004-11-01 @ 22:41
Comment from: Tom Miller [Visitor]
Tim,
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!

Tom Miller
2004-11-02 @ 07:47
Comment from: Keith Applegate [Visitor]
I am a natural hack, but love to play just the same. I had become as good as I was going to by watching others and guessing what it would take to improve. Yes, I had a similar experience immediately following my first lesson. Worst round ever! But, I have improved since then and I have a better idea of how to correct mistakes on my own. Lessons are probably better for pros who need minor tweaks in their game or someone who has never swung a stick of any kind in their life, but they can benefit those of us who are somewhere in the middle.

Apples
2004-11-02 @ 13:47
Comment from: Michael Turnbull, PGA Professional [Visitor]
I think you've hit the nail on the head, Tim...why can't we find more teachers who can guide us to learn from our own experience? If your own frame of reference is your own experience then you become much more capable of knowing when you are on or off track. The goal of lessons should be to increase the student's independence from the teacher, to help them find their own way. Teaching should not be the primary focus of the teacher...the goal should be learning. And if the goal is learning you can trust that experience will teach.
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.
2004-11-02 @ 16:51
Comment from: John Yacobellis [Visitor]
Tim,

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.

John Yacobellis
2004-11-02 @ 18:30
Comment from: Curtis Jones [Visitor]
Tim,
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."
2004-11-04 @ 12:17
Comment from: Jim McLellan [Visitor]
Golf's Secret

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.

Sincerely,

Jim McLellan
McLellan School of Golf.
www.mcgolf.com
2004-11-17 @ 12:52
Comment from: Kevin Dahl [Visitor]
Maybe lessons don't help, maybe they do. All I know is that I've gone from about a 30 handicapp (barely break 100) down to a 3.2 in the last 6 years. I've been taking lessons from one and only one teaching pro at Golfsmith, Doug Nelle, but then he has taught me more about golf than just the golf swing.
2004-11-20 @ 22:02

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