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Should a great instructor also be a great golfer?

Poll Results: Would you take lessons from an instructor that isn't a great golfer?

 
  • 65% (27)
    Yes
  • 34% (14)
    No
41 Total Votes  
post #1 of 63
Thread Starter 

Sean Foley is not known for his golf game but he's coaching some of the best players on Tour.  Would you be comfortable taking lessons from an instructor that isn't at least a low single digits or scratch golfer? 

post #2 of 63
Those who can do. Those who can't teach.
post #3 of 63

Define great.  Does he have to have been a PGA Pro?  I think they need to be very good, near scratch, but not necessarily great.

post #4 of 63

All that matters to me is that they know what I need to do to improve.

post #5 of 63

Rather an instructor played to a low hdcp or not is not important to me. A great instructor to me is some one who can add to all the good things the golfer already has, and make that golfer better. For amateurs,  an instructor who also knows how a golf club works would be good thing. A qualified swing guru, that's also club builder is a great combination.

 

Several years ago, my family, as a birthday present, gave me 5 lessons at Butch Harmon's School of Golf. His building was just down the street from our home and the gift also included a round of golf at Rio Secco, so it was a good deal. No, I never even saw Harmon, but the instructor assigned to me was pretty good. I told him I wanted all 5 lesson applied to my short game from 100 yards out. He agreed, and that's all we worked on. To me he was a good instructor for letting me pick the type of instruction I wanted. He told me he was new to golf instruction and was a 7 hdcp. More importantly he helped my short game score quite a bit.  

 

My long game improve after only one session with a $25 an hour, no name  range pro. He gave me just one swing thought that eventually saved me close to 5 strokes, on average, off the tee, and on my longer approach shots. I was the only one who showed up for a group instruction. I got the hour to myself. When it came time to settle up he only wanted the original $25 agreed on at sign up. He received much more.  Unfortunately, since business was not so good for him, he moved on to another course.  In his office was proof he had played in 4 US Opens, so he was obviously a low hdcp.  


Edited by Patch - 7/9/14 at 10:09am
post #6 of 63
I couldn't tell you as much in golf since I am a high handicapper and have not taken any lessons (yet), but as a music teacher I'll tell you that you need to be somewhat proficient with reasonable success at what you are teaching. The main reason is modeling. If you have piss poor technique, it is impossible to model correctly. Now you can use video of others, but barring any injury or disability you should be able to perform what you are asking your student to do. This will also hurt your credibility and harm your student's chances of performing properly. If they see their instructor struggling with a specific action, how can they expect themselves to be successful?

Again, I can't speak to this so much as far as golf but I feel like the same principles apply.
post #7 of 63

I wonder about this hypothetical/thought experiment...

 

Take two people, both very smart, academic/book smart and street/life/common sense/emotional intelligence smart. One is a 2.5 handicap, the other, not much of an athlete, but plays golf.

 

Both audit let's say 2,500 lessons given by a mix of say 5 different instructors who really know what they are doing. Both have read up in everything instruction wise - TGM, MORAD, SnT, 5SK, etc...

 

Having never instructed golf before, both give lessons to all sorts of players, let's say 500 lessons, under the tutelage of above instructors.

 

Conclusions?

post #8 of 63

I don't think someone has to be a great player to be a great instructor (and not all great players make good instructors), but, unless a guy has some physical limitations, I would be skeptical taking lessons from a bad golfer.

post #9 of 63
Thread Starter 

I prefer an instructor be a good golfer, scratch or better.  I don't know what Foley's handicap is but he might be the exception.

post #10 of 63

Meant to post this here first, but posted in the other thread.

 

I wonder about this hypothetical/thought experiment...

 

Take two people, both very smart, academic/book smart and street/life/common sense/emotional intelligence smart. One is a 2.5 handicap, the other, not much of an athlete, but plays golf.

 

Both audit let's say 2,500 lessons given by a mix of say 5 different instructors who really know what they are doing. Both have read up in everything instruction wise - TGM, MORAD, SnT, 5SK, etc...

 

Having never instructed golf before, both give lessons to all sorts of players, let's say 500 lessons, under the tutelage of above instructors.

 

Conclusions?

post #11 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by nevets88 View Post
 

Meant to post this here first, but posted in the other thread.

 

I wonder about this hypothetical/thought experiment...

 

Take two people, both very smart, academic/book smart and street/life/common sense/emotional intelligence smart. One is a 2.5 handicap, the other, not much of an athlete, but plays golf.

 

Both audit let's say 2,500 lessons given by a mix of say 5 different instructors who really know what they are doing. Both have read up in everything instruction wise - TGM, MORAD, SnT, 5SK, etc...

 

Having never instructed golf before, both give lessons to all sorts of players, let's say 500 lessons, under the tutelage of above instructors.

 

Conclusions?

Most guys who are a 2.5 index have played a lot of golf, been exposed to golf instruction and many would have informally coached friends on the range even if they are not professional instructors.  Auditing 2,500 lessons- I doubt many guys have done that.  

 

Even if you had two guys do exactly as you propose, it would still be anecdotal as there would be too many individual factors that might make one a good teacher over the other.  

post #12 of 63

Great player....not necessarily.  Good player, absolutely.  An instructor needs to have a certain degree of credibility, and "do as I say, even though I can't do it myself", just isn't going to get it.  He needs to at least be a solid ball-striker himself.  That means somewhere sub-3 at least.  Anything higher is just too inconsistent......

 

.....ask me how I know.   :8)

post #13 of 63
I wonder what fraction of his career Harvey Penick could break 80. I bet there was some overlap in the time where he couldn't but still taught Tom Kite.
post #14 of 63

Here's the deal, if they can spot the swing flaws and give the correct fixes and adjustments what does their handicap have to do with anything? I don't expect that the instructor/pro hit balls for me to see, I expect that person to get me to hit the ball better. If I'm hitting the ball better at the end of the day that's all that matters.

post #15 of 63

OK, let's say for my 2,500K hypothetical, you take 2 guys who haven't played a lick of golf. They audit and teach, but one is a <5 handicap and the other can't break 80.

post #16 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shindig View Post

I wonder what fraction of his career Harvey Penick could break 80. I bet there was some overlap in the time where he couldn't but still taught Tom Kite.

 

Completely different when someone's playing ability has eroded simply because of age, as opposed to the guy who wants to teach others but can't break 80 himself.

 

I believe it was Lee Trevino that said that he'd never take a lesson from someone who couldn't beat him.  I think that's extreme when applied to a highly skilled tour pro, but I'd absolutely apply it myself.....  I know how poorly I strike the ball!  I want someone that I know can strike it consistently better than me.

post #17 of 63
A good golfer may be a lousy teacher due to verbal skills etc. But I think a good teacher should be a good golfer (or at least should have been in the past, such as Harvey Pennick). If they are a good teacher, they should be able to translate that into a good game for themselves.

Many years ago I went to a golf instructor for lessons. He had his own show on local TV. I thought I would get him (the head honcho). I guess he had a staff of minions. I got a kid that was going to give the lessons. The first question I asked the kid was "what do you normally shoot?" He said, "about 85." I said "thanks, but no thanks." I consistently shot in the 70's. Why would I take the chance of getting lessons from someone I was better than? He may have helped me with some mechanics etc, but for my money I wanted an expert.

The kid who shot 85 would be better suited for cutting his teeth with a bunch of noobs.

Tiger Woods and others use Shawn Foley as their intructor. I always wondered how good he is. He looks more like a Biology teacher. :)

https://sp1.yimg.com/ib/th?id=HN.608056005118723229&pid=15.1&P=0
post #18 of 63
I voted no. I care more about my instructor's ability to teach than his or her ability to play. They should be good enough to demonstrate what they are teaching, but being able to play at a tour level is unnecessary.
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