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An Apple A Day

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I had wasted an entire golf season taking lessons from Bill and was pretty discouraged overall with the progress I was making.  I spent the winter reading books such as Hogan's Five Lessons, The Stack and Tilt Swing, The Only Golf Lesson You'll Ever need and a bunch of others plus all the golf magazines.  If you want to drive someone crazy, set them loose on Amazon Book store and tell them to read a bunch of golf books and magazines.  Every author had a conflicting approach from the others, how could there be so many different ways to swing a golf club?

The Winter had finally started to give way to Spring and I decided to go to the local range to practice.  The range is part of a fun park so there is always a wide range of golfers there, a few low handicappers but most are kids and hacks.  While I was practicing I noticed this older, somewhat disheveled guy walking around talking to some of the golfers there.  Upon looking closer I noticed it was the local instructor, Dr. Don.   Don walked up and down the range trying to impress potential customers with his golf knowledge and instruction skills.  His pitch was more used car salesman than golf instructor and he'd push for a sale to the point where it became uncomfortable.

I'd gone to the range a few times that Spring and had managed to elude the Dr. Don sales pitch but it was only a matter of time before he'd make his move.  One morning in April, no one was at the range and I was just hitting balls trying to follow what I'd read from Hogan's Five Lessons.  Don showed up and put his golf bag down 2 stalls away from me.  I could feel his eyes on me as he waited for an opening to make his pitch.  He walked over to my stall and asked how long I had been playing.  He complimented me on having a decent swing but that with some work he could really have me hitting the ball well.  I tried to fend him off but eventually he wore me down and next thing I know he's standing across from me telling me how to grip the club.  As he's instructing me, I'm getting his life story, how he's a former golf coach for a major university in NY, he's searching for Hogan's secret and thinks he found it and that if Tiger Woods knew what he did about the golf swing he'd be winning more tournaments.

He finally gets me set up how he wants and has me hit some balls.  After each swing he'd tell me to make some adjustments and try again until I finally hit a decent shot at which point he exclaimed, "Thank you very much, that's how easy it is".  He was ready to sign me up for six 1/2 hour lessons for only $250 right there but after my experience with Bill I decided to hold off.  I went home to do some research and check out his story, amazingly, most of it checked out.

The next day I went to the range and Dr. Don ran over to see if I'd decided to move forward.  I told him that I'd do one lesson at a time and if I got to the sixth lesson I'd expect it for free.  Don agreed and he pulled me aside to start the first lesson.  Looking back on those lessons, I wish I'd ate an apple that day.

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It was not a bad reference, took me a minute to figure it out too but was good.  I am "happy" with my golf instructor now but I think I want to talk with him on working on my golf swing more, spending more time hitting balls one after the other with him watching and instructing.  I feel we have not done enough of that yet.  I start out doing chips at the practice green and then we go to a few holes (he has an arrangement with the golf course that they allow him to do that and most of the people know him), typically two par 3s and one par 4 so far and play them out.  Not sure that is the best use of our time yet as I would like to dedicate more of it to swing mechanics so I may bring that up and see what he says.

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Looking back on my golf experience I realized that I was so lost as a golf student that I didn't take control over the instruction I was getting.  As golf students we extend trust to our instructors based on the assumption that they've successfully trained hundreds if not thousands of people on how to swing a golf club and that if we follow their instruction our golf swing will improve.

What I've learned the hard (and expensive) way is that like medical patients, we have to be our own advocates and take more control over the instruction we receive.  The relationship I have with my current instructor is much more of a partnership compared to the teacher / student I had with past instructors.  He's earned my trust so I follow his instruction, but I have much more input and control over what the lessons cover.

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On ‎11‎/‎13‎/‎2015‎ ‎10‎:‎59‎:‎35‎, newtogolf said:

"What I've learned the hard (and expensive) way is that like medical patients, we have to be our own advocates and take more control over the instruction we receive.

Great point. I found this to be the case with my club fitting experience this time. I was more involved, which resulted in a better fitting session than my previous experience of just waiting to be told what to do next.

I even sought feedback about my ball flight that led to a few important observations I hadn't noticed in my swing. Those observations led me to work on a few address issues I had (alignment and distance to ball). Both easy fixes that I never noticed myself.

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