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.