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Hacker James

Teaching Pro vs Touring Player

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Gotta be careful here and tread lightly...

First and foremost I have nothing but the highest regard for the PGA (and others) Professionals who "teach"  but wonder how they would fare on the tour. Granted, it seems as though it would be difficult to do both given the time and focus necessary to succeed at either.  It takes a rare quality to be able to impart information to somebody in a way that they understand and are able to execute what is taught them. Skill and patience with heavy emphasis on the latter.  But why do some teach instead of play?

It has been said (NOT BY ME),  that "If you can't play. then teach".  I would guess that there are any number of reasons ranging from time, finances, family commitments, preferences, or even physical imitations.  Indeed, some of the best players on tour have some very unorthodox swings and characteristics but they probably also have a great many things in common and the majority have undergone some sort of coaching under the guidance of a "professional instructor". There are exceptions of course, and if I heard correctly people like Bubba Watson have never taken a lesson.

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Let's take another sport for comparison. Remember Sparky Anderson, coach of the Cincinnati Reds and Detroit Tigers? Arguably one of the top three coaches in baseball. He was a poor minor league player. Ben Hogan even said he couldn't play and coach (teach). A lot of gifted athletes can't explain what makes them good in terms easy enough for the average athlete.
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Originally Posted by Hacker James

First and foremost I have nothing but the highest regard for the PGA (and others) Professionals who "teach"  but wonder how they would fare on the tour.

On average, they'd finish DFL every week.

Originally Posted by Hacker James

But why do some teach instead of play?

You'd have to ask them. Every individual.

I "play" but obviously not on the PGA Tour. Section events, the occasional round, rounds with some friends, etc. I teach because I'm good at it and it's one small way in which I can make someone's life better.


Originally Posted by Hacker James

It has been said (NOT BY ME),  that "If you can't play. then teach".

Stupid saying, really. Some of the best instructors haven't even been on the PGA Tour as a player.

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Almost any teaching pro would get annihilated. To pass the PAT, you "only" need to shoot about 80 two consecutive rounds under observation from the middle tees with relatively easy pins, and the courses that offer the test are generally not restricted to the toughest. This said, only about 20% of attempts pass. Making the minimum requirements to stay on the PGA tour is another matter entirely.

Even the lower level tours chew up and spit out golfers much better than the average teaching pro for a variety of reasons. They often don't have the time to keep their own games sharp as they might like, and they need to make a living doing something other than competing. Plus many are actively dedicated to teaching, as strange as that may sound.

A teaching pro who competes in lower level tournaments would stand a better chance of making a good showing, because staying in competition at any level can make a big difference. You don't become a teaching pro to play competitively though; you do it because you want to teach. Many pros aren't even the best golfer at their club, though I wouldn't play for money on their home turf.

My dad's uncle has been a pro for a long time. He is simply a great teacher and has won a lot more awards for teaching than competition, especially with juniors.

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My personal goal is to take and pass the PAT next year. A friend asked me why when I told him that was my goal. He told me I won't get to play as much as I do now. I'll inevitably be stuck teaching some poor chap who wants to hit it like Tiger and doesn't understand he physically can't do it. I responded by saying that my love for golf goes deeper than just playing. And I believe I would thoroughly enjoy helping others play better. And in order for that to happen, I also thoroughly believe I have the ability and knowledge to help others improve.

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Originally Posted by Hacker James

... It has been said (NOT BY ME),  that "If you can't play. then teach".  ...

Your quote line is a variation on the ageless snarky platitude, "Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach." Not sure if it was intended to degrade academics, or what. It's value is questionable, given that some people work in a profession for awhile, and then become trainers or teachers.

I've talked to former athletes, and they say the best coaches often were average as players, but had managed to get playing time because they found ways to overcome personal limitations.

Quote:

Originally Posted by LuciusWooding

... My dad's uncle has been a pro for a long time. He is simply a great teacher and has won a lot more awards for teaching than competition, especially with juniors.

Teaching pros deal with a variety of clients. Some seek a super swing leading to college, competitive amateur events or pro tour. Others want the basics so they can have a reliable swing and break 90 on occasion. Still others just want a bandaid fix for some ailing part of their swing. Some pros work better with one type of student than another.

Two excellent teaching pros in our area are former high school coaches (golf and other sports). They earned their PGA cards during their teaching careers, and made a nice transition to golf. Both have a reputation for being able to "bring out" the swing that's inside each golfer, work with the golfers physical assets and limitations.

A third area pro has a mild neurological disorder which gives him tremors. He has learned biofeedback methods to calm himself right before he hits a shot. In college, he was the conference low-putt leader because of his prowess on short game. He's very popular with people overcoming injuries - or with disabilities - who need unique swing adjustments.

In the big picture, everyone's babbling about how we need to grow the game . Good and approachable teaching pros are key to this growth.

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