The golf instruction industry
as we know it is broken. Golf is not a game of analyzing swing positions with
the use of video. It’s not about using a launch monitor to determine the
horizontal launch angle, attack angle, or clubface impact angle. It’s not
even about trying to emulate the swing positions of the best players in the
world. It’s about the development and enhancement of SKILL. Skill is developed through practice
and under the same pressure situations that you will encounter on the golf
course. Have you ever have asked yourself why you hit the ball so well on the practice range and then completely
fall apart once you step on the golf course? I would say that 90% of all
average golfers have considered that very dilemma.
There is a process to learning and applying athletic skills which involves more than video analysis of the golf swing, a quick lesson on the range, and wishful thinking that it will make an immediate impact on the golf course. Other sports are not learned through magazines or by watching the tennis, soccer, or baseball channel. They are taught and learned on the court or field of play.
Skills are learned; they’re not just explained. There is a difference between teaching and coaching. Other sports have coaches, not technique gurus who analyze the mechanics of your motion, provide a tip, and then send you on your way to test it under game conditions. Having a technically sound swing is certainly important and not to be taken lightly, but only if it contributes to the player being more skillful, not more technically perfect. To get better the first thing you need is an accurate prioritization of the skills in your game that are costing you the most strokes. Not a side by side comparison of how your swing stacks up against some tour professional. There are THREE essential skills that will help you lower your scores.
1. Ball Control
2. Decision –Making
The first order of business is a skills assessment of your game. Depending on what time of year it is, this assessment is done with a 9 hole playing lesson or an evaluation of your current skills and level of play. Each part of the game from putting to driving is evaluated and given its own handicap relative to your overall handicap. Then each part of the game is prioritized based on each essential skill and then an action plan is developed. The focus will be to improve those skills that are above your overall handicap. Dr Rick Jensen wrote a book called Easier Said Than Done. In my opinion it's the first instructional text to outline HOW TO BE A STUDENT. It should be a required text for golfer wishing to improve their golf game. In his book he outlines and explains the process of lasting improvement with the Four Steps to Mastery.
The Four Steps to Mastery
Learning golf is a process. You have to walk an athletic skill up several steps before you can master it. In order to finally OWN a skill to a point that it will hold up under pressure, you must walk that skill up the FOUR STEPS TO MASTERY.
1. - Determine which skill is costing you the most strokes. Seek an understanding of what you’re doing wrong, and identify what you need to fix it.
2. Supervised Practice- This is what most golfers think of as a “golf lesson” Lot’s of repetition with feedback. Golf is a motor skill that requires repetition of that motion to the motor cortex of the brain to store that skill as a habit.
3. Transfer Training – It’s very common when a technique is exposed to various transfer conditions to revert back to prior tendencies ( the primacy effect). Many repetitions are needed to erase old habits and ingrain new ones to a point where it will reliably show up on the golf course.
4. The Final Step- This involves playing with that skill while keeping score. This can be done on and off the golf course. Skills contest can be conducted anywhere, anytime of year.
In golf, you must learn to apply your new skill under real playing conditions, not just in a controlled environment on the practice range.
A skill is not completely learned or owned until it can be drawn upon and successfully utilized on the course under competition.
Ask yourself these questions:
1. How many times last year did I simulate course conditions on the range for 18 holes? Example: Hit your Driver. Based on how well you hit that driver, hit the second shot. Based on the result of the second shot, what type of short game shot was required? Did you miss the green? Did you hit a good shot that likely hit the green. DId you go through the pre-shot routine?
2. How many times did I play the up and down game? This is where you drop a predetermined number of balls around a practice green and simulate getting up and down.
3. How many times did you practice reading putts?
Be honest. If you did not perform at least one if not all of these practice games then you are missing out on how to truly improve you game.
4. How many times did I practice my fairway bunker game, specialty greenside bunker shots, balls in divots, driver off the deck, knockdown 3 woods, and practice putting from well off the green?
If you didn’t perform these practice games or routines at least once a week, once a month, or even one time all summer then you have no idea just how much you can improve your game.
This is how you develop skill and lower your golf score. This is the reason that the average golfer has not lowered his handicap appreciably despite the advances in equipment and teaching technology in the last 30 years.
Before you call me to book an
evaluation, please take the time to score yourself in the following 9 areas of the
1 being the strongest and 9 being the lowest. Also, based on the GHIN handicap system, give yourself a handicap in each area as well.
Ball Striking _____ _____
Driving _____ _____
( Getting your tee shot in play on par 4’s and 5’s )
Putting _____ _____
Chipping _____ _____
Wedge Game under 70 yards _____ _____
Greenside Bunker Play _____ _____
Fairway woods and Hybrids _____ _____
Game/Course Management _____ _____
Specialty Shots/Scrambling _____ _____
( Fairway bunkers, knockdowns, approach shots from deep rough, putting from off the green, shots from trees, uneven lies, buried lies from greenside bunkers.)
Ask these questions before booking a lesson with me or any instructor:
Do you teach the golf swing or coach to people to play golf?
Have you conducted a playing lesson or have you played a round of golf with the majority of your students in the last year?
Will you develop a program that will allow me track and quantify my progress for a stipulated time frame?
For you to improve and be the best golfer you can be, these questions must be addressed.
Thank you for taking the time to read this and I look forward to having the opportunity to help you be the best golfer you can be.
PGA, G.S.E.B., TPI L1