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It's a Gift

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JonMA1

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Went to the range yesterday to work out a couple craptacular issues I saw on recent video. Armed with a phone for video and a game plan of slow, specific, short and success practice, I was prepared to make some real progresss. While paying for the two baskets of balls, the pro asked me how my game was. I told him I needed a better shoulder turn and proper weight shift. He suggested a drill for the weight shift and then offered to come out to the range to observe my swing. I told him I didn’t want free advice and would rather wait until I could afford to pay him. But he told me he didn’t care about the money and just wanted to help.

Believe it or not, this was an awkward predicament to be in. Anyone whose has ever really struggled with improvement understands the near desperation we can experience to move the needle. So a PGA pro offering advice should have been a blessing, right?

Trouble is, I don’t like mooching. It’s no different than on the many occasions when Erik or Mike have offered advice. There's a certain feeling of good fortune combined with a little guilt that these guys make a living from this. They’ll both tell you that they wouldn’t offer it if they didn’t want to. But from my perspective, it’s too easy to become “that guy” who takes a gift like that for granted. This may sound weird, but I’d rather suck at golf than ask for free advice from a pro (not talking about the discussions we have here at TST, even though there's a ton of useful information there as well).

Anyway, that was just one of the issues going through my mind. I’m also trying not to jump around from one method of learning to another. I almost never look up advice on youtube and rarely, if ever, watch the instructional content on the golf channel. Even if progress has been slower than molasses running uphill on a cold day, going from one fix to another will do little in the way of accelerating that progress.

Despite these thoughts, I accepted his offer (would have been rude not to).  

Once on the range, I worked on the weight forward drill until he joined me a few minutes later. He watched me take a few swings and then went to work modifying my take-away, club position at the top, then having me make a full speed swing and full finish. He spent an hour of his own time out there trying to help me improve. In the back of my mind, I know sustained improvement isn’t likely to happen because the way I am, but the fact that he was willing to do that was impressive. The best I could do in return was offer, free of charge, some custom printing for his course. He said he would take me up on the offer.

At the risk of sounding unappreciative - which is not at all the case - his time would have been better spent with a kid or newbie who might actually benefit from it. I often lack the ability to get what is being taught and can’t help but wonder if those who’ve offered me help in the past are thinking “that asshole’s not even trying to apply what I told him”. I almost always get something out of a lesson or advice, but there’s always much more I don’t. And even when I fully understand a concept, properly applying it to my swing is another story. On the rare occasions when I understand the concept AND can apply it to the swing, the chances of retaining if from one season to the next are slim. 

I gave his advice a great deal of effort today, as in several hours. Since he took the time to help, it's only fair I try and apply it. Even if that means finding a way to integrate it into the keys I’m working on and at a slower pace of practice than he suggested.

I guess what all this rambling comes down to is this… we should be grateful when we’re given the gift of free advice from someone whose livelihood normally depends on payment for that advice.

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I work in finance and over the years have become pretty good at some skills others can use Tomane their lives easier. I get paid for it, take example my Excel skills. I like building things inExcel and making stuff better. There are times when I have offered (and been taken up on) helping someone with a problem or creating a report or tool that they can use. It's fun, it's satisfying, I know it's not going to cut into my ability to make a living. It's nice and satisfying to help someone out without anything in return.

Friday night I was waiting at a bar in a restaurant at the mall for my family to arrive, and ordered a Scotch and soda. Up plopped some young lady who ordered a beer and pulled out a notebook and pencil. She had a grid and you could see was a schedule for her employees. She was back and forth, erase, write down, erase, move, etc. Eventually I asked her if she ever thought about doing it in Excel? And then pointed out some things she could do to make it easier and also help her track her employees schedules.  We talked about ideas for about 5 minutes and hopefully she uses them to make her scheduling easier.  I like to help when and where I can it's fun. Certainly not the magnitude of what you are talking about but I have built tools for people for free because I wanted too.

As the old saying goes: "never look a gift horse in the mouth". You're no mooch for accepting someone's generosity.  He/she got something out of it too. Hope the advice he gave was correct and that it sticks!

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9 hours ago, Gator Hazard said:

I like to help when and where I can it's fun. Certainly not the magnitude of what you are talking about but I have built tools for people for free because I wanted too.

It's exactly the same magnitude IMO. And I hope they understood and appreciated what they'd received.

I used to do a bit of freelance design and illustration work. But when we'd go into OT at my real job, I wouldn't have enough time to provide what I thought was an adequate service to my two or three customers. So at some point I let them know I could no longer charge them, but I'd be happy to work on a logo or image here or there as long as it wasn't terribly time consuming. (I was always horrible at billing anyway.)

What I discovered was that it was far more enjoyable to do it for free. That, and I could call the shots on the design decisions since I wasn't charging them. I'll even do things for my employer on my own time as they've always treated me well. Of course, it has to be my idea.

Anyway @Gator Hazard, I agree. There is a certain satisfaction in helping other folks and I think by nature, most people have that in them.

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I have found with most teachers, there is nothing more gratifying than seeing the "light come on" with someone. We would be much better as a society if we helped each other without expectation of payment or reciprocation. It was awesome of that guy to offer help for free. Perhaps he does that in hopes that seeing a small improvement or benefit will bring you back to pay for lessons, but it was a nice gesture. 

With that being said, it almost sounds like you have a mental block where you are telling yourself that you can learn or improve. Perhaps you should try again and tell yourself, "I will get this." It certainly won't be instantaneous, but hard work and determination always pays off. I hear people all the time claim that they just will never be able to use a computer, but once they get out of that frame of mind and actually try, they begin to learn. 

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On 8/12/2016 at 2:07 PM, CarlSpackler said:

Perhaps he does that in hopes that seeing a small improvement or benefit will bring you back to pay for lessons, but it was a nice gesture.

I'm not so naive and trusting that these things didn't cross my mind, but there was absolutely nothing mentioned about another lesson or further instruction. He's managing a golf course and his plate is pretty full right now.

I go to his range once a week or so and on this particular evening, I picked up two buckets of balls. I think he just saw someone who was serious about improving and he happened to be in a generous mood.

On 8/12/2016 at 2:07 PM, CarlSpackler said:

With that being said, it almost sounds like you have a mental block where you are telling yourself that you can learn or improve.

There's some truth to this. As you mentioned, there are lots of people who give up before they start because giving up is easier than trying and failing. 

I've said this many times, I will never blame an instructor or the golf instruction profession for my lack of progress. I have yet to find the discipline needed to practice correctly for more than a couple of weeks. If I was born 20 years later, I'd probably have been diagnosed with ADHD or some other disorder.

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I don't know how many pros you've seen but maybe you should shop around.  Long story short . .I sucked at golf horribly for 20+ years.  I never once practiced correctly or even tried to.  I took a series of lessons with a local pro - I did not understand what he was teaching, I didn't practice much and I didn't improve.

Then I signed up for a dirt-cheap "get into golf" class - a series of 6 weekly group lessons where you get a clinic and then maybe 10-15 minutes of one-on-one time with the pro.  I didn't understand what he was telling me and I didn't practice much (and not at all correctly) . .but doing the things he said . .I actually saw a glimpse of improvement.  It wasn't much - but it was real. 

That changed everything - all of a sudden I felt some hope.  Somehow this guy knew how to look at the 100, 000 things wrong with my swing and tell me one thing that I could actually do that would make a small difference.  I signed up for some more lessons with him . .and then some more.  

For around 20 years I hit a big booming slice and couldn't break 100 to save my life.  If there was anybody who "could never improve" - that would've been me.  Once I started to see some actual improvement, I wanted more - so I changed my practice habits, got more serious about golf, etc.  I broke 100.  Broke 90.  Broke 85.   These days I'm shooting in the 80's regularly although I'm practicing 10x more than playing.  I think I have a legitimate chance to break 80 at some point . .and my goal is to get to low single digits.    And if I never happened to take that class . . probably never would've happened and I'd be posting "I know, me too" instead of "stick with it and maybe try a new pro if you're really not getting anywhere". 

 

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