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Why, unlike other sports, does golf seemingly NEED instruction?

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 

Just opening a friendly discussion ... I've played tennis, basketball, baseball, football, and I never felt like I needed personalized instruction.    Sure there was limited coaching through scholastic programs, but nothing near the extent of what people expect when they take up golf.     I know people that are hesitant to even try golf because it's their impression that costly and time consuming lessons are a necessity when learning the game.     Always struck me as odd, this preconceived notion that many have that lessons are required to enjoy golf.     I guess it's partly the complexity of the golf swing & somewhat un-natural stationary posture during an otherwise athletic swing (meaning, can't step into a golf swing like you do in baseball or throwing a football or even jumping in basketball) ... or is it the inherent difficulty in hitting a quarter sized ball with a 3 ft stick as hard as you can to a spot guarded by hazards far longer than a football field away?     Discuss ?

post #2 of 20

You raise an interesting question.  Do we really NEED instruction? And why golf but not other sports.  A few thoughts:

 

1) Golf requires a substantial amount of money to start (equipment, greens fees, shoes, etc.)  So, by and large, the people who are interested in starting out have available income.  Thus, they might be inclined to spend some of that money toward getting lessons. Most don't, but I would guess more than in other sports. But this is also true of skiing, equestrian and a few other sports.

 

2) Face it, golf is hard. It's not a reactive sport.  It's all on you to initiate action. To be able to control that little ball requires a goodly amount of coordination and ability. Some people can do it without lessons, and they will get to a certain level of proficiency. Others just can't do it without someone showing them exactly how.

 

3) Golf is played over a lifetime.  Unlike football, people can play golf their entire life. So they might seek out instruction at some point.  And, if they improve, they are more apt to continue getting lessons.

 

4) There are other sports where instruction is very important for advancement. Think about gymnastics, swimming/diving, tennis, skating. Those who want to continue to excel seek out instruction.  And there certainly are instructional camps on basketball, football, soccer, hockey. But adults generally stop playing those sports at some point.

 

Good topic.

post #3 of 20

I disagree with the premise that many or most golfers feel they "need" instruction. 86% of golfers don't seek instruction. That's fine. I'm here to help the other 14%. :-)

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by inthehole View Post
 

I've played tennis, basketball, baseball, football, and I never felt like I needed personalized instruction.

 

Those sports have coaching at the higher levels. For a good many amateurs (most of whom continue to struggle to play as well as they could), they don't seek instruction.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by inthehole View Post
 

Sure there was limited coaching through scholastic programs, but nothing near the extent of what people expect when they take up golf.

 

Roughly 14% of golfers take lessons. I don't think "people expect" to take lessons when they take up golf.

 

FWIW, Tennis instruction is fairly popular. Coaching in other sports - team sports - usually occurs because players get into it at a young age. They're often coached then. For example, hockey is big in PA. Players are coached - if they play - from the age of five and up. Same for bowling (also big in Erie).

 

I've sought instruction for pool, bowling… even dog training (interestingly, my dog trainer was a Stanford multi-Ph.D. cancer researcher…). I've had instruction on proper rowing technique. When I lived in Florida I know the Bass Pro Shops superstore down there had classes on fly tying, casting, boat maintenance, and more. My wife takes painting instructional classes. Photography classes can be popular. Lots of people seek advice on dieting and exercise. Tennis instruction is popular in Erie, as well.

 

Skiing too (thanks @Harmonious - not a lot of equestrian stuff here, but in southern Florida and Wellington and stuff, that was big too).

 
Quote:
Originally Posted by inthehole View Post
 

I know people that are hesitant to even try golf because it's their impression that costly and time consuming lessons are a necessity when learning the game.

 

I don't think that's true.

 
Quote:
Originally Posted by inthehole View Post
 

I guess it's partly the complexity of the golf swing & somewhat un-natural stationary posture during an otherwise athletic swing (meaning, can't step into a golf swing like you do in baseball or throwing a football or even jumping in basketball) ... or is it the inherent difficulty in hitting a quarter sized ball with a 3 ft stick as hard as you can to a spot guarded by hazards far longer than a football field away? Discuss ?

 

  1. Golf is incredibly difficult, and complex, and at the same time, it drives people to want to improve.
  2. It's one of the few non-team sports people can play. Coaching doesn't occur unless someone seeks it out.
  3. People can play it for a long, long time. (People might not seek instruction for their weekly softball league games because they probably won't be playing for more than ten years. Golf they might see playing for almost the rest of their lives.

 

There are other factors, but again, 86% of people don't take instruction. 14% or so do.

 

I've long said that if golf instruction were good across the board, more people would take instruction. I believe that. I believe a rising tide raises all ships, and poor instruction actually hurts the instruction business. If your buddy takes a lesson from a hack pro who just spouts off random sayings, and doesn't improve, it's a waste of money and time.

 

But in the past week we've had two guys who, two years ago, were 25 and 27 handicaps, and who are now 4.9 and 5.8… then they're on to something, and they have gotten better, quickly.

 

And if someone's content to drink some beer or just enjoy the outdoors with their pals, and is content to win a few skins and shoot 97, then good for them.

post #4 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by iacas View Post
 

I disagree with the premise that many or most golfers feel they "need" instruction. 86% of golfers don't seek instruction. That's fine. I'm here to help the other 14%. :-)

 

 

 

^^^^^This^^^^^

 

I've known very few people who have actually taken lessons.  Even fewer that do so on a regular basis.

 

That's not to say there isn't a benefit to instruction, just that I disagree with the premise that most golfers feel that they need it to participate in the sport.

post #5 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by David in FL View Post
 

 

^^^^^This^^^^^

 

I've known very few people who have actually taken lessons.  Even fewer that do so on a regular basis.

 

That's not to say there isn't a benefit to instruction, just that I disagree with the premise that most golfers feel that they need it to participate in the sport.

^^^^This^^^^

 

I have very few golfing friends who have sought regular, semi-regular, or even infrequent instruction. Perhaps a few had 3-4 lessons at one time in their life, 20 years ago, and that was it.

post #6 of 20
Because some people dont like to feel that they suck at something.-Golf makes them feel that way-Time over time over time AGAIN.
post #7 of 20

I'd say that all organized sports have instruction, but it comes in the form of a Coach. All youth sports teams have a coach at a minimum and the qualifications of the coach is usually indicative of the level of performance that the team will achieve. Better coaches have better teams/results and therefore attract better players who want to learn from the coach and other players.

 

Golf is an individual sport, but the same dynamic exists. If you don't find a coach (instructor) you are likely to be mired in the recreational league. If you want to move up you need to find a coach.

 

My sons played soccer. My oldest was good, and played at a 3rd division level and we payed the coach at a 3rd division level, about $600 a year and we'd go to 4 tournaments.. My younger son was more talented and was invited onto a 1st division team (we're talking about an 11 year old here) and we payed $150 a month plus travel and hotels to 13 tournaments a year. Six years later my son tells me that the coach, as hard as he pushed them, really taught them the game and how to play it as a team.

 

All sports have coaches and in golf we call them a pro or an instructor. And they always cost money, and they are worth it if you wish to improve beyond a "rec league" mind set.

 

P.S. There is always an exception (Bubba),  but remember that exceptions prove the rule.

post #8 of 20

When I played football in high school, for about 4 months a year, over six years, I had practice 5 days a week for 3-5 hours a day. Coaches were there running the drills and teaching technique.  During the off-season we had supervised weight training.  So I don't think I agree that golf is any different.

post #9 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by 0ldblu3 View Post
 

 

P.S. There is always an exception (Bubba),  but remember that exceptions prove the rule.

Pretty sure that is more of a self generated myth than complete truth. I mean he did play on high school and college golf teams where I'm sure he was receiving some kind of instruction. 

post #10 of 20
I think the fact that golf is mostly played by adults is the biggest reason.

There are lessons for other sports. Baseball, basketball, soccer, etc., but adults don't play those sports in particularly large numbers. The sports that adults do play, including golf, tennis, skiing, and snowboarding, do see larger numbers of lesson-takers.

There's probably also a breakdown between team sports and individual sports. In basketball and soccer (which do have adults leagues), being good at those sports is much more about being athletic than golf is.
post #11 of 20

I've had coaches and instructors in every sport I've played. Even in school the PE teachers instructed us. That was decades ago. Now people that are serious about their sport are over-instructed if anything. My partners kid is into baseball. He sees a guy just for running correctly. He has a pitching coach, a different batting coach and he works with a strength trainer that specializes in baseball fitness. He probably does more than that.

post #12 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave2512 View Post
 

I've had coaches and instructors in every sport I've played. Even in school the PE teachers instructed us. That was decades ago. Now people that are serious about their sport are over-instructed if anything. My partners kid is into baseball. He sees a guy just for running correctly. He has a pitching coach, a different batting coach and he works with a strength trainer that specializes in baseball fitness. He probably does more than that.

 

Thats amazing and eye opening - baseball instruction sure has changed since I played in high school in the early 80's... we pretty much got our workout running to & from the school to the field (about 2 miles), fielded grounders, had batting practice, pitchers and catchers throwing off to the side, scrimmages sometimes, batting cage in the winter ... that was about it.

post #13 of 20

I think the basic movements in other sports are fairly natural and intuitive. With some athletic ability people can reach a good level without any instruction.

 

In contrast, golf is extremely counterintuitive. The movements that your brain and your body feel natural are usually wrong.

post #14 of 20

I agree that if you want to be better at something, you need to find the instruction to do so. However, I don't think that you NEED it in golf, not at most of our levels. My reasoning is simply justification. If I told my wife I want golf lessons (which I cant afford, lol) she would tell me im crazy. And shes fairly right. That would mean, paying someone money to hopefully teach me to be better at something I have to pay money to do to get nothing in return. When I was young, baseball camps and clinics helped me to a scholarship, so it was justifiable, I wasn't paid necessarily but if you added up the tuition I saved, I was compensated well for it, lol. I also think, that people who believe they need lessons to even think about playing were introduced to the game wrong. I think you should be picking up a club, hitting some balls and try having some fun before you think about dumping money into this game. Shame on anyone who has made someone think they cant have fun and enjoy this game without taking lessons.

post #15 of 20

I like the points @iacas made, I'll just add....

 

Because golf is friggin' hard!  

 

With any hobby/sport, if you want to get better at it, you can find instruction for it. I know a guy in San Diego that spends his weekends instructing high school quarterbacks on how to throw the football more effectively because according to him, there is a lot of misinformation out there about throwing a football. For baseball, I know there are plenty of pitching and hitting coaches that are pretty expensive if you want to send your kid to go see them. My younger son does archery and he has a one-on-one half hour lesson every week.

 

With golf I think there is this romanticized view that if you "swing your swing", avoid getting technical, you'll eventually "figure it out". It that were true then most golfers wouldn't suck.

post #16 of 20

Also agree with @iacas ' points here.  Golf itself does not "need" instruction ... those of us who want to be good at it "need" the instruction.  I played golf in some way, shape, or form for abour 26-28 years before I ever had a lesson, and I was perfectly content.  But something kicked in and gave me the drive to try and see how good I could get.

 

I have done the same thing with tennis and bowling.  I wanted to excel so I took some lessons.  Skiing, on the other hand, I figured out on my own.  It's only recreation for me and I'm not racing.  However, if I was ... I'd certainly get an instructor for that as well.

post #17 of 20

I gave hitting lessons (for baseball) in the batting cage in my yard for many years in addition to coaching in summer baseball leagues. I wouldn't say that a very high percentage of people can "hit a baseball" without instruction either.

 

Maybe against youth league level pitching they can get by with bad mechanics but almost all would struggle with top level high school pitching and have almost no chance against any higher level than that.

post #18 of 20

I agree with iacas's post. 

 

There's a couple of things with golf that don't gel with a lot of people/golfers and consequently they find it difficult.  I believe that one of the issues many novices face is the fact the ball is on the ground, your head (point of reference) is above the ball and then you're required to hit the ball in the air, it just doesn't make sense to people, so you always see beginners hitting off their back foot, trying to somehow get under the ball to get it in the air. Throw in a nice manicured lawn that the novice is scared of damaging and you have a pretty good recipe for a novice to miss the ball or top the ball at best. Hence, some people take lessons.

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