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How does one become a student of the game?

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

This question was brought up by a member in another thread which I commented "many of the new modern players, miss the importance of becoming a student of the game"


This was in relation to the thread discussion concerning "The Average Golf Handicap Hasn't Improved for the Last 30 Years"


My comment was only one of my thoughts which may attribute to improvement for new and beginning golfers.

Hopefully this topic will generate some interesting comments which others may benefit and be a learning experience.


At some point in time, many have heard the expression "He's a Student of the Game"

Many of the great professionals have had Commentators remark about how a certain player is considered a Student of the Game.


These words are spoken as an achievement to a player who lives the game of golf in every aspect it offers.

It is the love of the game that one will ask and listen to others, and then experiment with these thoughts.


Through the game of golf, I have been very fortunate to make many friends and I have enjoyed many hours of listening and discussions of new and old clubs, playing different shots, playing the many courses and about the many different players I have golfed with.


I fiddle with my equipment, try different grips, re-shaft my clubs, grind the soles and bounce, play different brand equipment to feel and compare to what I play. I try to hit fades, then try to hit draws, then try to hit it straight and I do this with every club in my bag.


I talk with other players about their game and equipment and try to pick my Head Pro's brain when ever I get the chance.

Experience of others is a great teacher in it's self.


Then when I stand on the first tee with players, I wish them the best of luck and to play well.

When the round is over, we all shake hands and comment about what a remarkable day we shared golfing together.


My golf journey began many, many years ago and I hope it continues with Gods will that I have many, many more.


Club Rat

post #2 of 8
post #3 of 8

I think you've done a good job of answering your own question really.


I think anyone "commentators" discuss, meaning PGA pros mostly, are all "students of the game" by definition.  But your question is interesting from a philosophical perspective because, in my opinion, there are many golfers that are not students of the game, though they may love it in their own way.  I don't count myself as a student of the game, though I would like to be one some day and seem to think I know some at least of what it takes to achieve that status.


When we start playing golf we naturally focus on the physical aspects of the game.  It's not physical like boxing, or tennis.  As a matter of fact, the physical aspects of the game seem to lead to discussions about whether golfers are "athletes" or not.  (IMHO great golfers are, guys like me, not so much, even if we achieve student status.)  But swinging a club and making that stupidly small ball fly stupidly long distances in a controlled fashion takes a degree of physical prowess.  Certainly figuring out a good swing is the first step to student status, and that is as far as a lot of people seem to go.


But golf, in my always humble opinion, isn't really a physical game, though it has a physical aspect.  One only really begins their journey toward becoming a student of the game when they grasp that an awful lot of good golf happens between your ears.  Golf is a strategic game.  It is about choosing where you want to place your ball for the next shot, and then applying the physical aspects of the game to try to get it there.  That's why golf is so damned hard!  It is about hitting a bad shot and making a good decision about how to deal with the aftermath.  The real student of the game makes well informed decisions about their next shot based on knowledge of their own game and abilities and isn't afraid to just punch it out to an accessible spot in the fairway if that is their best alternative.


And golf is about coping with disappointment.  It is about going to the next tee after a double bogie and putting it aside, moving along and playing the way the student of the game knows he/she is capable of on that hole.


Being a student of the game of golf is a lot about accepting the challenges the game presents, but it is even more about getting to know yourself and coming to grips with your own inner demons.  Golf is hard for everyone.  Students of the game have learned to cope with it better than most.

post #4 of 8
Between you two there is nothing to be said.... Props
post #5 of 8
Who has risen to a high level yet doesn't appear to respect the inherent wonder, beauty and complexity of the game?

Anthony Kim?
Rich Beem?
Dustin Johnson?
Bruce Leitzke?
Walter Hagen?
John Daly?

Not saying I'm arguing for any of those players particularly, but I think arguments exist and it may be worth a discussion. And I think this thread could turn interesting...
post #6 of 8

To become a student of the game, it helps if you can see golf from different angles.


As the first serious golfer in my immediate family, I learned to play with a grab bag of clubs made between the 1930s and 1960s. I caddied from sixth grade onward in the 1960s. My brother worked on the greens crew at a nearby course - I caddied elsewhere - and I filled in for him on a few shifts during the summer.


In 1972, I got to be forecaddie for a National Golf Day match featuring Tony Jacklin and Jack Nicklaus at Old Warson Country Club. This was a prelude to Warson hosting the Ryder Cup later that year.


When I joined the Marine Corps, I got to play in California, Okinawa (Japan), and in Taiwan. Lots of interesting differences in course design from country to country. In Taipei City (Taiwan), I played a municipal course overlooking the ocean. When I pushed a drive into the rough on a long Par 4, I found my ball inside partially-underground cement building. I asked my caddie what it was, and he told me it was a military pillbox (gun emplacement). "If the Red Chinese come, we fight!" my caddie told me.


In 1974, I shot my first of two 77s, my career bests.


I got to play Pebble Beach and Torrey Pines in 1978 (did much better at the Pines).


When I came back out of the service, I tended bar at Columbia Country Club near the University of Missouri. I got to hear the members discuss finding another hundred acres so they could expand the club to 18 holes, and compete against newer "championship" courses in the area.


In the present I'm also getting older, and have an arthritic hip. So, I've switched from running to swimming to help with my conditioning.


In 2012, I attended the GolfWorks Club Fitting, Assembly and Repair school near Columbus, OH. I teach at a college business school, and the Golfworks experience helps me in International Management class: We have a recurring segment on the globalization of golf equipment manufacturing. Tennis players and bicyclists also bring their sports into the discussion.


So, I've been fortunate to see golf from many different angles. And I've met a lot of fun people along the way. One of them was Club Rat at the St.L golf expo.


Golf is a great sport, all of its facets.

post #7 of 8

Really, I think to be a student of the game you need to just live the golf life: play golf, watch golf on TV, read golf magazines, be knowledgable about current equipment, understand the mechanics of the golf swing and study the history of the game.

post #8 of 8

I think "Student of the game" is a worn out phrase used by golf commentators when they don't have anything else of importance to say, it's overused.  I think Hogan, Seve, Arnie, Jack, Nelson, Tiger, Phil, Penick, Faldo, Watson and a select few others are true students.  They are the ones that seem to really understand the golf swing, the rest of the guys today have swing coaches that are students of the game and the pro's are their coaches students.


Dufner has a beautiful swing as do many pro's but do they really understand the golf swing and mechanics or do they have coaches that just explain what they need to know?  As k-troop asks, is Kim, Daly or DJ really a student of the game?  I'd even question if Rory is at this point.

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