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My One Regret About Lessons


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For most of my life my golf game relied on my natural athleticism. Unfortunately, there are a lot of technical aspects to the golf swing and like many untrained golfers, I would go to a more and more open stance to correct for my slice...unknowingly causing a bigger slice. But a few years ago I got a job where I wanted to become a respectable golfer so I started taking lessons, got fitted for clubs. 

 

There is no question the lessons were very valuable. When I started I was worse than max handicap. I had no qualms about taking mulligans or anything along that line and breaking a hundred was a major achievement and extremely rare. After one season of lessons I seldom broke 100 the wrong way and that was following the rules to the best of my ability, no mulligans, no gimme putts, etc. Furthermore, I became confident enough at my ability to make reasonable contact with the ball that I started being willing to be matched up with random people and would even golf when I traveled. 

 

Took two years of lessons, definitely improved, got to where I was hovering around a 17 or 18 handicap. I would occasionally break 80 and actually had a couple 83s on my resume Started playing in tournaments. Took lessons for roughly 3 years, about 60 total I think? Learned a ton. Not overly bothered by bunkers, I know how to get out of them. There was a point my wedges were dialed...I felt like from 75, 95, 110, 125, 136 yards I was going to be on the green. 

 

So clearly the lessons were of tremendous value. There is no part of my game that is not vastly improved. Last year I briefly got to a 12.8 handicap, my personal best. Broke 80 for the first time ever just a week after setting my new personal best of an 82. There was some regression at the end of the season. This year there has been more regression...my wedges are a dumpster fire, I am more likely to chunk them a third or half the distance I intend to hit. My driver has deserted me so badly that, despite being a big fan of things like LST and Every Shot Counts, knowing the math, I tee off many rounds with a 6i because the driver will be OB so often it is not worth playing. And is shorter than my 6i...

 

So my cap has skyrocketed to a 14.8 and we have only been in handicap season for 19 days.

 

And therein lies the one and only issue I have with the lessons. They taught me the swing that would work when I was constantly being reminded. But like my wedge swing for example...I don't know what I changed and it could be a lot of things...ball position, weight location, weight shift, swing plane, alignment, how much the foot flared...

 

What it didn't teach me was how to fix swing flaws that would develop. It is hard to keep a swing in good shape when you go from August until February. On the bright side, I learned either there or through individual study things like ball flight laws, I know the difference and inside out swing path makes, etc. But I don't really know how to adjust my swing.

 

I spent quite a while at the range last night trying to apply the principles in the excellent "Simple, Specific, Slow, Short and Success" thread.  A group next to me hit two buckets apiece in the time it took me to work through a half bucket. I was taking quarter swings, half swings, 3/4 swings, slow motion, just really working to ingrain the path...and then it occurred to me...the path I am trying to ingrain may not be the correct path. It may not even be swing path that is the problem. The problem might be something like the ball position, where i have my weight, etc.

 

That is perhaps the missing piece to the lessons...knowing how to identify the problem so I can work on that. 

 

I do not regret the lessons. They indisputably improved my skills. I just wish they had taught me not just how to swing...but how to know how to swing...

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most of them were the first year (there was a lot to unpack). In retrospect, I should have gone slower. I would take the lesson and hit the range like...every day. People I work with include a guy who has played in the national tournaments (and his wife made the LPGA then promptly got injured), a co0uple sub-10s...I didn't want to be the guy hitting the ball sideways lol

 

the next two years were more "I lost my swing, can you show me what I changed?"

 

The original package was 45 lessons and a couple times we ran into each other on the course and he showed me some stuff. 

 

I like your ideas and will definitely look into them. I have learned to love traveling...and golfing in those places. Palm Springs in a couple months...so it is nice to have a respectable game (where respectable is 85-95)

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I started off with a lesson every 2 weeks. That was too much. I backed off to every 2 months, and eventually settled into 1 per month. For me that frequency gives me a good balance of having enough practice time to achieve the goal, but still feel like there is a progression.

I feel like because of lessons I have learned a lot about my golf swing, and the golf swing, and am able to diagnose and correct simple faults. I'm still not great a self correcting, and rely on the teacher for most of that, but my toolbox has gotten bigger, so to speak.

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42 minutes ago, darthweasel said:

The original package was 45 lessons and a couple times we ran into each other on the course and he showed me some stuff. 

 

WOW, and I thought my "Buy 4 get 1 Free" was a good package.  I could not imagine signing up for a package of 45.

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4 hours ago, darthweasel said:

And therein lies the one and only issue I have with the lessons. They taught me the swing that would work when I was constantly being reminded. But like my wedge swing for example...I don't know what I changed and it could be a lot of things...ball position, weight location, weight shift, swing plane, alignment, how much the foot flared...

What it didn't teach me was how to fix swing flaws that would develop. It is hard to keep a swing in good shape when you go from August until February.

The problem you're experiencing is one reason I did not pursue traditional lessons any further.  (Well, that and $120 an hour.)  Instead I signed up for off-season training via an on-line company.  What they do is teach the building blocks of a good swing, and stack new building blocks atop building blocks already learned.

By learned, I mean learned.  E.g.: Right now, after six weeks (nine weeks with three one-week interruptions--one due to injury), I'm just getting to takeaway drills.  I have to do a minimum of 1500 reps, of just takeaway, over five days, and submit video of my progress before being allowed to move to the next segment.

The cool thing about this is I can remember what I was taught, and the sequence in which it was taught, and repeat it next off season to stay in tune.  If my swing should ever go all wahoonie-shaped, I should be able to figure out why--by videoing myself or checking myself in the mirror, and go back to the drills necessary to re-ingrain the designed motion/movement.

That's the theory, anyway ;)

I've also spent more than a little time reading various articles and discussions regarding the biomechanics of the golf swing, so I can understand from a more "technical" perspective what's in play and how things work when they're working.

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I probably send in on average one video a month to Evolvr. There is back and forth conversation and follow up drill videos, but it really is about once a month. 

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I think the way to go with lessons nowadays with easy video texting and is actually what is happening is if you have a good relationship with your pro, you'll get a lesson, and PM him a video of your swing once in a while, I dunno (I personally do it when I think I've changed the picture, swing looks like what pro liked during the lesson), enough times to make sure the wheels don't come off the track. Some pros will even insist on this. I'm not giving you another lesson until I see on video you've really learned what I last taught you.

I think this combo of in person and online is very effective, you don't have to be going to the lesson tee all the time. It also frees you up to work on short game, putting. It's a win-win for the pro and you. There are still not a few pros who want to lock you into a package deal. I'm not crazy about Golftec in this sense.

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I had a lot of lessons back in the day some 30 years ago, you guys need to watch the PGA and LPGA tours and you will see as many different swings as there are people playing. Buy there's one thing they all do well, the back of the leading hand is square to the target line. And even when the tour player lays a great swing on it they miss the green, so I try to get my leading hand square to the target line and if I do that a hit the ball where I want. Not often enough but 2-3 holes in a round I hit driver and either 8 or wedge inside 3 feet, my problem through lack of play is feel that's inside 50 meters and poor putting.

 

My complaints about lessons is no course mgmt, so it's very difficult to hit anything shorter than driver off the tee on par 4-5s. Plus the pro's support that because they hit into trouble with shorter clubs, besides it's what you want to do at that moment and for me I like to hit one club less because I can't see the ball 30-40 metres in flight...

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we did cover course management. I think in retrospect, I thought I was understanding some stuff I wasn't. And when he thought I got it we moved on to the next thing, we covered a ton of ground. Unquestionably it worked at the time and even long term I am indisputably a better golfer...but when I lose something, it is hard to pinpoint what I changed.

 

I did spend quite a bit of time refining chipping, wedges before the tournament I played this past saturday. I went in feeling good. Hole 2 I chunked an 8i. Hole 5 chunked a 9. Hole 6 chunked a chip. Just everything fat. I bet on the day I hit ten shots fat between chips, wedges, and a very unfortunate 6i that led to an 8 on a sub 300 yard par 4 without losing a ball...

On the course, I have zero chance to figure out what I am doing wrong but today will be back to working on experimenting with ball position, weight shift.

 

Hilariously, shot my second best score of the year despite the chunks. I think a lot of people were chunking based on the rain spurts. 

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On 3/19/2021 at 4:17 PM, StuM said:

WOW, and I thought my "Buy 4 get 1 Free" was a good package.  I could not imagine signing up for a package of 45.

I had the same "buy 4..." package. Wife got it for $99. Seemed like a good deal, but had to be used with in the year.

I used 2 in the beginning of the season.  The teacher was nice and tried to teach me the "Steve Stricker" swing, along the way teaching me mechanics, balance, hand position, rotating wrists,  etc...
When I went back in the summer, the teacher was not there, so I had to take a lesson with the new teacher. He just stood behind me chewing gum and extolling virtue of the weigh shift and repeating the phrase "nice and easy".  He changed my stance and a few mechanics (take away) just enough that any work I had done previously was now a mess.
Did not use the other 2 lessons.
Moral of the story, sometimes less is more.
Then again, a good teacher, and never let them leave!

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38 minutes ago, Elmer said:

I had the same "buy 4..." package. Wife got it for $99. Seemed like a good deal, but had to be used with in the year.

I used 2 in the beginning of the season.  The teacher was nice and tried to teach me the "Steve Stricker" swing, along the way teaching me mechanics, balance, hand position, rotating wrists,  etc...
When I went back in the summer, the teacher was not there, so I had to take a lesson with the new teacher. He just stood behind me chewing gum and extolling virtue of the weigh shift and repeating the phrase "nice and easy".  He changed my stance and a few mechanics (take away) just enough that any work I had done previously was now a mess.
Did not use the other 2 lessons.
Moral of the story, sometimes less is more.
Then again, a good teacher, and never let them leave!

Sounds unfortunate for you, my lessons cost more than $99 but I am getting a lot of personal attention and what I feel is good advice.

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(edited)

I posted my swing here a few years ago and after reviewing the comments decided to take lessons at a nearby Golf Tec. (Well not so near).  I took 40 lessons did not improve so much , but hey, I figured it takes time.  Took another 10.  Getting a little better. Still inconsistent though. Not breaking 100.  Signed up for another 10 getting frustrated after about 3 of those. Determined to move on to another place/instructor.  My instructor calls me, he is leaving Golf Tec and turns me over to one of the guys who was very, very good.  Guess what he has a lesson plan and we start at square one. I have progressed faster in 5 lessons than the previous 50. 

Lesson learned.  He won't teach me anything new until I can perform the previous task with some fair amount of skill.  

So basically what I was getting from the first guy what iacas mentioned.  Lesson after lesson of grab bag information without a plan.  

Edited by SemperFi
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On 3/21/2021 at 8:04 PM, Colins69 said:

Buy there's one thing they all do well, the back of the leading hand is square to the target line.

They do not, no. Depends on grip strength and other factors.

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20 hours ago, StuM said:

Sounds unfortunate for you, my lessons cost more than $99 but I am getting a lot of personal attention and what I feel is good advice.

Guess that just shows the benefit of the right teacher.
Some of the people giving lessons just because they know how to swing, does mean they know how to communicate and teach!

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