Two years ago, Mary had a 28-something handicap and usually kept her ball in the fairway but was lucky to get 150 yards out of her driver. Now two years later, Mary and I are on the second tee. She winds up and nails a drive on a 327-yard, par-4 hole. The ball stops just short of the 150-yard marker.
"Super shot," I exclaimed. And she kept doing it. Bam, slam. Where did all this come from, I wonder?
"You're playing great," I told her. She grinned, all pumped up with her game.
"I found this teacher, Ted Britschgi," she said. "A lot of us girls have been taking lessons from him. Hell, I figured I would rather blow money on some golf lessons than spend it on a new outfit. I plan on playing for a long time; clothes go out-of-date."
I had heard Ted's name before. My son, a 2 handicapper who had taken lessons on and off since he was 8 from everyone from Jeff the pro to Art the expert, finally went to Ted. "Best teacher I've ever worked with," he said.
Who was this guy? Why was everyone going to him from New England and New York to Florida and Arizona? Even Tom Shaw, Rocco Mediate and several players on the LPGA Futures Tour, along with Tom Brokaw, Dr. Ken Blanchard ("One Minute Manager") Hall of Fame Miami Dolphins Coach Don Shula and Life Success Coach Anthony Robbins, were singing his praises.
Originally from Connecticut, Britschgi, just 40-something years old, has been in the game since he was a kid. Currently affiliated with the John Jacobs' Golf Schools, he has played on the PGA and Nike tours, has taught for more than 20 years and was a lead instructor for the Dave Pelz Short Game Golf School and the Jim Mclean Golf Academy.
A certified golf fitness instructor and master trainer, Britschgi was selected by Anthony Robbins to lead Mastery University Programs and is on Golf Digest's list of the top golf instructors in the country.
"We break all the paradigms," Britschgi said. "It's not about age and strength but about figuring out where possibility lies. I see their potential as unlimited as long as they get good information and are willing to participate in fitness programs to add flexibility.
"You have to change the root of your problem not beat out your brains on the practice range repeating old bad habits. You have to shift who you are in order to transform what you can accomplish. Our job is to show you what's possible. You can have a perfect-looking golf swing but not efficient motion."
Britschgi got into the golf game when he was a kid. His uncle, Ted Kroll, was a leading money winner on the PGA Tour in 1956. "Right before my uncle passed away, he told me, 'You have to look at things differently. Over the years, people can get engrossed in things, which contribute to frustration rather than accomplishment."
Britschgi understands. "These golfers come to me looking like deer in the headlights."
They look for a quick fix. If the blade is open, they're told to close it. If they're slicing, they're taught how to hook it. People spend so much money and time for this kind of instruction and still they're pissed off at their golf game.
"Some (of my students) are bottom liners, they want to achieve certain goals. They might like Paula Creamer's style, but it's not theirs. To achieve, golfers have to find their own style and go with it. Most try hard to play, but they're simply trying hard to hit shots," Britschgi said. "We're trying to change how golf is taught, show you how to have a blast at this game no matter what your age or limitations. I get great joy out of teaching people 75 to 95 years of age, showing them they can get better."
Tips and quick fixes are like Band-Aids: They come and go. This kind of instruction has dominated the golf world for more than 60 years and still golfers continue to struggle with the same problems.
Britschgi looks at things differently. He calls his program "The Golf Revolution." "We try to find the method that works best for you," he said. "Everyone is different, different body types, different limitations, different strengths. We take a look at the total picture from fitness and emotional controls to your ability to move, your bio-mechanics."
Loosely defined as understanding how the body works in motion, bio-mechanics is grounded in science and research. Using two- and three-dimensional video analysis, which he describes as an "MRI of your golf swing," Britschgi says these tools help you understand how to achieve a more efficient and repeatable swing technique.
"One of the toughest things for women to get is how to increase your distance," he said. "You know how to get the clubhead to the ball from the top of the swing, but this is not how you generate clubhead speed. It is quite the opposite for women. You truly have to learn to lag the clubhead down through impact almost to the point where you feel that the clubhead is so far behind the grip as you approach the ball that it feels impossible you can actually hit it.
"It feels like you are holding the club up for dear life, and it never releases at all. Trust me, it is just a feeling, and it does not happen that way: You will be able to contact the ball better than you can ever imagine. But it is a very different feel and requires a lot of trust."
Britschgi notes that studies show the more your practice, take lessons and keep your clubs updated, the better you will be.
"There was this lady who was pushed by friends to come to me for a lesson. On arrival, she said, 'I'm here for just one lesson. That's it. I don't plan on coming back.' Seven years later, she shows up telling me, 'I just wasted seven years of my life. My golf is no better. I'm signing up for a series (of lessons).'
"Life goes by. Just get it done," said Britschgi, who admits to a goal of his own. His wife, Roseann, a yoga and pilates instructor, is also getting into golf. She's a leftie so Britschgi said, "I am working on breaking 70. Left-handed." So far, he has broken 80.
As for Mary, she's Britschgi's best cheerleader. She's winning tournaments, having fun.
"Just find a teacher like Ted, who understands and believes you can get better, and stick with him or her," Roseann said.
"Who says you can't improve."
For more information see www.thegolfrevolution.com.
January 28, 2009
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