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deronsizemore

Overhearing a lesson never ceases to amaze me

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Was at the range today and a lesson begins next to me and I just can't help but overhear some of the garbage being taught.

The lesson starts off with the teacher asking how long the golfer has been playing and talking about getting the fundamentals down like grip, alignment, etc.

I only heard about 10 minutes of the lesson, but here was basically the gist of what I heard:

Quote:
You have to rotate your shoulders more level... blah blah blah... maintain your spine angle through the whole swing... blah blah blah... keep the flex in your knees through the whole swing and don't lose it until well after impact... blah blah blah...

This guy charges $80 per hour.

I mean, really?

The sad part is that most people don't know any better and just hang on every word because the guy is a "pro" after all. Hell, I used to do the same thing when I've taken a few lessons here and there. Knowing what I know now, there's only one guy that I trust to watch me swing around here.

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Yeah I notice this too quite a lot and I don't really trust any pros anymore. I think that even the pros that spout bullshit can get a very bad player to be able to play somewhat decent though none the less, and really how good are most of those players ever going to want to get.

I was practicing putting the other day and someone had drawn out 20 feet of the zero line on one of the cups, I want to find this guy as that is more effort than i've ever seen a pro go through. I guess it might not even have been a pro.

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Originally Posted by deronsizemore

I'm not quite sure what you're referring to here?



The zero line of the putt. Where all putts aimed straight at the hole will go in. He drew like 20 feet or more of it and it was even slightly curved. I think it was one particular pro here who seems to be smarter than the others.

Really I had just assumed that someone was using aimpoint, which was surprising to me as I live far away from any certified instructors.

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I think most of these teachers know how to golf well and know what they are talking about but they just don't know how to teach it.  Regardless of how good you are, if you can't communicate it and teach it properly, the student won't learn it.  That's the problem.

I took some lessons a couple years ago and the instructor had me doing different drills and told me to do certain things during my swing.  He never really told me why I was doing these things and what it was fixing or why it was better.  I had to extract all this from him.  I found myself coming to conclusions in my head during the lesson and then asking him if I was correct about why he was having me do a certain drill.

Everything he had me do makes sense to me now and it was all good advice but I had to figure it out on my own.  He was teaching me the correct fundamentals but wasn't communicating it very well.

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I know its hard not to hear, but can't you tune it out? Maybe throw on your iPod for a bit when there is too much background noise at the range? The instructions dealt are for that particular student, not you anyway. I'm sure the student is as uncomfortable knowing that people can hear the instructions as well. And as cliche as all they sound, most people who are taking lessons are starting from the beginning and/or need fundamental improvement.

BrushCaddy, I like what you say about wanting more in-depth explanation. I think an instructor will sometimes lose sight of a individual's knowledge of the swing. Consequently, can assume a student will understand. Like you mentioned, good instruction has a lot to do with solid communication and delivery of information.

Teaching the golf swing can be just as trying as learning the golf swing. It is so intricate. So many moving parts, so many angles, so much to manage.

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I like my golf instructor, he uses a camera, and he works on balance, getting the ball to start on the right direction of the clubface. He doesn't advocate any of the above, or told me any of that. Its mostly just banging balls, looking at the video camera and trying to get things starting the right way.

Yea, you can get that, even my first instructor worked on grip and posture first, but then it was mostly taking small swings, and getting the club on plane. Nothing about keeping knee's flexed, or maintaining my spine tilt. I must be lucky.

Well, i would say, thats 80 bucks down the drain, time to search for a new instructor.

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I won't send my daughter (14) to another pro again.  She has been in golf camps since the age of 7, and all of them told me she had a very natural swing and all she needed to do was keep playing and practice.  I had it out with a young pro (all of 23) who "Specialized in Youth Development".  Well after watching him trying to tell her to play all of her full wedge shots off her back foot, then she went from drawing the ball to having a slice... I pulled the plug.  I gave it 2 lessons a week/2 hours a week, for almost 5 weeks, before he and I parted ways.  He proceeded to tell me she would not be ready for a golf course for a long time, due to all of the significant issues she had.  Since that time we went back to basics in trying to enhance the natural swing that she originally had just keep building on solid ball striking.  We worked thru a few things when she gets a little loopy and continued focus on basics, but overall she is where she needs to be playing golf, and not just practicing full shots on the range day after day.  She started playing Junior 9 Hole tournaments this summer and racked up two first, and a second.

I think all of this Swing Coach mess has made people think golf is harder than what it is.  When you read and hear all of the interviews with the older players, they all indicate they got good by playing golf, and not worrying about to many swing mechanics, etc.  I think once you have a basic pretty decent repeatable swing, it is then time to start playing golf and putting the shots you need in your bag.  I see so many kids at that age that all they can do is swing the club and look good doing it, but know nothing about playing golf, what shot to hit, etc.

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Teaching is a special talent. Everyone has had both good and bad teachers in school. If you can find so many poor teachers in schools it is not suprising that many of the teaching pros are poor teachers. My experiences have convinced me that I want to know a pro and have seen them actively teaching before I trust my limited talent game to one. Someone who is both experinced, keeps up with current ideas, has some flexibility in their methods, can communicate their concepts is not all that common. Unfortunately for new golfers good instructors who are available and affordable are few. One on one instruction is inherently expensive, think of a pro as a golf tutor, factor in the seasonal and weather factors and it becomes clear that making a living as a teaching pro means rates are never going to be low. I suspect that means a fair number of the pros who would be the best teachers have chosen to work outside of golf or in non teaching areas in order to make a living.

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Im very dubious about pros but only because of the things ive picked up on which are mirrored hear and its msotly the knowledge aspect of things

I had a lesson a few weeks back to fix my iron shanks, and the instructor said "ball position is wrong, move it back" i asked why and he said "because its wrong".......I knew on my irons it was flat out my swing plane, which i asked about and he sait it was fine,

I eventually had it recorded and it was flatter than a witches flat thing,.....so it wasnt okay, and he was in my opinion just looking for a quick fix to my shanks to warrant the £30 i just paid him.....

I steepened my swing and boom, shanks 99% gone from my irons, and my driver is hitting farther and straighter as are my woods and hybrids,.....still naffed on the wedges though :(

I think money is a big issue nowadays, get em in, get em out philosophy

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Obviously there are some bad instructors out there.  I think some of you might have forgotten how little a beginner knows in order to determine the quality of an instructor.  As someone who's played for less than a year, knowing the difference between a good instructor and a bad one is difficult.  I liked my first instructor, he was a great guy, and I seemed to make some initial progress.  When my buddies kept telling me that my swing still looked very bad after 6 lessons I realized that despite his credentials, he might not be that good.

My current instructor is a bit of a blow hard, and rough around the edges, but he's transformed by golf swing tremendously.  If he didn't come recommended I probably wouldn't have selected him due to his personality, but I'm glad I did.

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Originally Posted by Ben

I know its hard not to hear, but can't you tune it out? Maybe throw on your iPod for a bit when there is too much background noise at the range? The instructions dealt are for that particular student, not you anyway. I'm sure the student is as uncomfortable knowing that people can hear the instructions as well. And as cliche as all they sound, most people who are taking lessons are starting from the beginning and/or need fundamental improvement.



I can definitely tune him out, that's not a problem at all. I just thought I'd comment on the garbage I was hearing. It wasn't like I was listening because I was trying to learn something. For what it's worth, before they guy started teaching, the student said he's been playing for 30 years.

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I am a guy who likes to go at it alone, even if that means not necessarily reaching my potential...so, I haven't taken a lesson in ages.  That said, I took a lesson from a good college friend who became a teaching pro and he watched me take about 5 swings and said "c'mon, I am going to show you something out on the course"

So, we walk out to the course and he points at a tree about 30 or 40 yards away -- he says, I want you to line up as if you are going to hit a ball at that tree, and then take a full swing and then let of the club go so it flies directly at that tree.  I said, "OK, that will be easy"...........I did as he asked and when I let go of the club it flew 30 yards left of the target tree....WTF was my only response......he said, "see, that is what is wrong with your swing....you need to be 'thowing' the club toward your target through impact"

Absolutely the best advice/lesson I could have ever received at that point in time......it was pure genius because he showed me what I was doing wrong through my own actions, not simply saying that I am swinging out to in......

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Good practice drill.  First time I read about it was in the book "The Secret to Hogans Swing", John Schlee had the author try the drill and had the same reaction as you did.

Originally Posted by BallStriker

I am a guy who likes to go at it alone, even if that means not necessarily reaching my potential...so, I haven't taken a lesson in ages.  That said, I took a lesson from a good college friend who became a teaching pro and he watched me take about 5 swings and said "c'mon, I am going to show you something out on the course"

So, we walk out to the course and he points at a tree about 30 or 40 yards away -- he says, I want you to line up as if you are going to hit a ball at that tree, and then take a full swing and then let of the club go so it flies directly at that tree.  I said, "OK, that will be easy"...........I did as he asked and when I let go of the club it flew 30 yards left of the target tree....WTF was my only response......he said, "see, that is what is wrong with your swing....you need to be 'thowing' the club toward your target through impact"

Absolutely the best advice/lesson I could have ever received at that point in time......it was pure genius because he showed me what I was doing wrong through my own actions, not simply saying that I am swinging out to in......



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Originally Posted by deronsizemore

I can definitely tune him out, that's not a problem at all. I just thought I'd comment on the garbage I was hearing. It wasn't like I was listening because I was trying to learn something. For what it's worth, before they guy started teaching, the student said he's been playing for 30 years.


Because the pro was making comments that you personally disagree with doesn't necessarily make him a bad teacher.  You must have read and/or heard a lot of golf discussions over the years, and know that there are many different ways to successfully hit the ball, and to successfully get those points across.

Because you overheard something that you thought was wrong does not make it wrong for that student.  Was the student swinging stiff-legged, which prompted the "flexed" comment?  Was the student swinging way too upright, prompting the "flatter shoulders" comment? Was the student lifting out of their spine angle too much, prompting the "stay in your spine angle" comment? Without knowing the scenario, it's impossible to make any judgement about the pro, IMO.

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I am a retired wood shop and metal shop teacher.

A couple of things I believe for you to think about.

1.  Give me an instructor who had to work long and hard to become good at the skill.  Stay away from the instructors who were able to be good the first day they tried golf.  They don't understand how or why anyone has to work long and hard, to be good at golf or any skill.

2.  Most golf teaching pros are good for advanced quick learners but are not good for beginners who have to work hard to become good. They tend to look for quick fixes.

3.  Most golf teaching pros cannot give you the names of even one person who was struggling at a high score level like 145, and is now scoring in the high 70's to low 80's thanks to their instruction.

4.  Gifted learners who became teachers, in any area of education usually have trouble teaching average and below average students.

5.  Most golf teaching pros start their students with a quick lesson on all the fundamentals then drive their students crazy expecting them to be able to pick up and apply correct advanced techniques in the blink of an eye.

6.  If I taught advanced wood working techniques on a table saw before the students understood and could apply the fundamentals correctly every time, the students would be injuring themselves regularily.

7.  It is like your young son walks into first grade and the teacher starts math by reviewing all the basics from addition to trigonometry,  the first day then on the second day starts with advanced calculus from then on for the rest of the year.

8.  Insummary a golf pro has to start where the student is, instead of  where the pro would like to teach.  A teacher has to respect the individual and help the student recognize what he/she knows that is correct, recognize what he or she neads to learn and determine the easiest and quickest way to learn and retain it.

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I think one of the simplest tests of a teacher is to have them show you that they can do it themselves.  If they can't hit 5 perfect tee shots in a row, right before your very eyes, on demand, they shouldn't be charging money to teach you how to miss the driver like they do.  An exception to this would be an old teacher who carries "good credentials", like a state amateur championship or time on tour, but whose game has been stolen by infirmity, Harvey Penick for example.  There's also entirely too much time watching the student hit full shots and not nearly enough time having the student hit half shots to ingrain good balance, proper hand action, footwork, connectivity, shoulder turn, steady head, etc.  It's a lot easier for a beginning player to learn to hit half shots properly than full shots and then full shots become just a larger version of what they learned in miniature.

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I'd like to add that paying for lessons is often no better than asking a friend with a low handicap to spend half an hour with you for free or for a beer or two afterward to talk about it.  Most of the better players I've known have been quite generous in this respect and frequently far more knowledgeable about swing mechanics than the "teaching pro".  Many people know somebody who knows somebody, as it were.

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