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luchnia

The Chaos of Learning Golf

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I still remember myself struggling to hit the ball at the beginning. It was confusing and frustrating. I had an instructor (a PGA pro) but it wasn’t working. Someone told me I had no hope and that was enough to keep me from giving up, maybe I should thank that person now.

I did not read any book, watch any instructional videos, nor fantasize about hitting like the pros. I just trusted that my instructor would be able to help me learn the game. Looking back, it was harder to find the right instructor than to find the right swing. I have had 4 instructors, all PGA pros and all had great reputation, but they are not all created equal. First instructor did not work out. He let me borrow clubs from him, said there was no point getting my own until I knew golf was for me. Made sense. For months, he’d only teach me with with a 9i. He wouldn’t move on to other clubs until I could make contact, which never happened, so I was stuck on the 9i. I took weekly lessons and practiced daily and it still wasn’t happening, so I quit after 6 months of frustration. 

My husband really wanted to play golf together during retirement, so he found me another instructor to try one more time. The 2nd instructor told me at our initial meeting that he’d “fire” me if I don’t practice and his lesson package came with unlimited range balls, so why not. He also wanted me to have my own clubs, and he actually taught with all the clubs. I was able to make contact with my short irons and that got me interested. I took weekly lessons and practiced every day, hitting 300+ balls daily for a year. I guess that’s how my swing was developed. This instructor finally told me I had to start playing golf instead of hitting balls, and that’s how I started playing and got hooked.

I found my 3rd instructor because she has a great reputation and has weekly group clinics. She is a great golfer and probably a great instructor because her lessons are always fully booked. But I didn’t enjoy her teaching style so I only spent a month with her. She did get me fitted for new clubs and this was when I realized why my experience with the first instructor failed. I ended up with clubs that are 1” short and 3 degrees flat, and the 9i that the first instructor used was mens standard. I started hitting quite solidly with these new clubs so I guess she did help with improving my game. 

My 4th is my current instructor and he got me to the next level (single handicap) within months. The first thing he told me was everyone has a different swing and unless my swing is way off/causing issues, he will only modify what I already have. He only made minor adjustments to my swing and set up and my driver gained 40 yds and irons 20yds. Since I see him weekly, he only gives me one thing to work on each time. I think I have finally found someone who can help me maintain/improve my game. I play a few times a week and practice on days that I am not playing. I no longer hit 300+ balls a session but I do hit 100 drives every day as a routine. What my current instructor has taught me is that everyone is different - there is not one swing that will work for everybody and you practice what works for you. Don’t over analyze, use instructional videos with caution, and don’t try to swing like someone else. 

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6 minutes ago, FlyingAce said:

Looking back, it was harder to find the right instructor than to find the right swing

This is what brought me to this site.

8 hours ago, Buckeyebowman said:

I can fully understand what you, and @iacas are saying. But how is a true beginner to differentiate a good instructor from a bad one? There are a lot of goofs out there with weird ideas. I've been playing 50+ years, and when I was getting started I had my Uncle, who was a PGA pro before WWII. and the instructional articles in Golf Digest. 

Yet, even at a tender age, I seemed to have developed a healthy level of skepticism. Some "tips" I'd read I'd discard immediately. They made no sense on their face. Others i'd try out, only to discard them when I found that they didn't work. I was able to keep my focus pretty narrow. I was able to confine things to what worked for me. 

And I think that's an important idea. I don't know of too many instructors trying to teach people how to swing like Bryson, or Bubba. Or Rahm or Dustin.  

Totally agree. And a beginner has no idea what a good instructor is. I had a friend who had a hack instructor that set him back a lot 

Best bet is to come to a place like this and ask folks their experiences and get recommendations for people in their area or via the web.

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13 minutes ago, FlyingAce said:

What my current instructor has taught me is that everyone is different - there is not one swing that will work for everybody and you practice what works for you. Don’t over analyze, use instructional videos with caution, and don’t try to swing like someone else. 

Thank you for sharing your story. You had quite the journey with instructors. What you have shared is excellent advice.

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14 minutes ago, boogielicious said:

This is what brought me to this site.

Totally agree. And a beginner has no idea what a good instructor is. I had a friend who had a hack instructor that set him back a lot 

Best bet is to come to a place like this and ask folks their experiences and get recommendations for people in their area or via the web.

I think it is more trial and error for beginners. And for those who plays already, you need to know specifically what you want to work on and find someone accordingly.

I referred a friend to my instructor but because of scheduling, he picked a different instructor at the same place. He’s been playing for 20+ years and was a decent weekend golfer. His goal was just to play better and for some reason, his instructor decided to have him work on a completely new swing. My friend has been struggling since.  

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9 hours ago, luchnia said:

Well put and you state what is most important in "I was able to confine things to what worked for me." But what if you had not been knowledgeable enough to do that?

Virtually nobody does. I was just talking about a good player in my area who is going down the wrong path because he thinks he knows more about the golf swing than he does. Even Tour players occasionally fall into this trap.

9 hours ago, luchnia said:

I asked him how he learned golf and mentioned the name of the instructor that taught him. I was familiar with the instructor's name and knew he was a constant 1rst place winner of tournaments at a nearby course.

Ability to play != ability to teach.

9 hours ago, luchnia said:

I asked him if he minded sharing what type of things his instructor taught him and he said he basically told him to do what feels right and don't entertain all the swing thoughts and technique stuff you hear others teach. I think this young man fully believed what his instructor told him to do. Whether good or bad that was what he was told to do and what stuck with him.

And that's why. That instructor is likely only teaching what he feels like he does.

9 hours ago, luchnia said:

This does not to imply instructors are bad, it is simply another example of how instructors are as different as night and day and the person being taught doesn't always know what will work for them.

I'm still waiting for you to summarize - even in a single paragraph of three or four sentences - what this topic is about.

Please… do so.

9 hours ago, FlyingAce said:

His goal was just to play better and for some reason, his instructor decided to have him work on a completely new swing. My friend has been struggling since.  

It's a big red flashing warning sign that you're with a bad instructor if he or she says any of the following:

  • Let's tear it down and rebuild.
  • Let's start from the ground up.
  • You're going to get a lot worse before you get better.

ALL swings have bits that work and are fine. NEVER "rebuild" your swing. It's completely unnecessary and, frankly, regular golfers don't have the time or ability (given their time) to do it.

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40 minutes ago, iacas said:

 

It's a big red flashing warning sign that you're with a bad instructor if he or she says any of the following:

  • Let's tear it down and rebuild.
  • Let's start from the ground up.
  • You're going to get a lot worse before you get better.

ALL swings have bits that work and are fine. NEVER "rebuild" your swing. It's completely unnecessary and, frankly, regular golfers don't have the time or ability (given their time) to do it.

I agree. I don’t get why my friend would agree to give up what he already had (and was working) for something so drastic and unnecessary. I almost feel guilty for sending him there, but then he picked a different instructor. I told him I like my instructor because he didn’t try to change anything about my swing. 

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13 hours ago, luchnia said:

Well put and you state what is most important in "I was able to confine things to what worked for me." But what if you had not been knowledgeable enough to do that? You would be like the thousands out there that cannot narrow it down to what works for them as most beginners simply won't know what the right things are. Your healthy level of skepticism may have saved you a lot of problems over the years. I know several golfers that are not so fortunate.

Your post brought to mind this story. This past summer a young guy saw me walking the course on the first hole and drove his cart over to ask me if I would like to play with him. I told him I was not a great golfer and usually shot around 100 on this particular course and he said no problem at all. So I folded my cart up and joined him.

As we were playing I realized that I could hold my own with him and may even pull out a win, which I did wind up winning by a good number of strokes. The young man had a very nice long drive yet struggled some to control it. He had several OOB hits that really hurt his game.

I asked him how he learned golf and mentioned the name of the instructor that taught him. I was familiar with the instructor's name and knew he was a constant 1rst place winner of tournaments at a nearby course.

I asked him if he minded sharing what type of things his instructor taught him and he said he basically told him to do what feels right and don't entertain all the swing thoughts and technique stuff you hear others teach. I think this young man fully believed what his instructor told him to do. Whether good or bad that was what he was told to do and what stuck with him.

This does not to imply instructors are bad, it is simply another example of how instructors are as different as night and day and the person being taught doesn't always know what will work for them.

 

Here are some of my reactions to your post. This guys offers to play with you, and after you tell him you shoot around 100 he says "No problem"! What does this tell you? He shoots around 100 too, or he's looking for an easy mark to make a bet with. 

As for his instructor, he might have been a good player, but he wasn't all that as a teacher! "Do what feels right" might work for him, but it obviously didn't work for his student if the dude is whacking drives OB all the time! In fact, it sounds kind of lazy! "I'm not going to teach you proper grip, stance, alignment, swing plane, weight shift, or anything else. Just do what feels right!" 

These dudes should be put in stocks and whipped daily for theft! 

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