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Golfingdad

Teaching a Total Beginner

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As a follow-up to my earlier thread about clubs for a total beginner, now I'm curious what you guys all think about trying to get them started.

Picture an adult (if it matters, we're talking about women here) who has never had any interest in golf before, and they pick up a club for what I can only assume is probably the first time.  You are the only person that they know that is a golfer, so they immediately look at you and say "What do I do?"  You have them hold the club with a grip that feels comfortable, then tell them to put their hands together, and then have them hit the ball.  (I should've foreseen this and taken a video)  Posture is all out of whack, legs nearly locked, bent over at the waist, then the club is basically picked straight up, left arm bent to 100*, and then club hits top of ball, misses ball, hits ground 4 inches behind ball, etc, etc.  I think you've all seen it before.

I don't want to try and build them into a scratch golfer or anything, but I just want them to be able to make decent enough contact most of the time such that they enjoy themselves.  So what advice do you give?  Where do you start?

Thanks a bunch!!

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Great topic. I have nothing in the way of advice, but I want to get my wife into golf so I will be following this thread.
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I'm in the same boat. My wife has also expressed interest and has asked me to take her to the range. He'll no. I'm having her take a few lessons from a great female instructor near by. I think the frustration on both our parts would just result in a bad situation and tarnish her desire to play. Harvey Penick has a great chapter in his Little Red Book about avoiding teaching a spouse how to golf.
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As a follow-up to my earlier thread about clubs for a total beginner, now I'm curious what you guys all think about trying to get them started.

Picture an adult (if it matters, we're talking about women here) who has never had any interest in golf before, and they pick up a club for what I can only assume is probably the first time.  You are the only person that they know that is a golfer, so they immediately look at you and say "What do I do?"  You have them hold the club with a grip that feels comfortable, then tell them to put their hands together, and then have them hit the ball.  (I should've foreseen this and taken a video)  Posture is all out of whack, legs nearly locked, bent over at the waist, then the club is basically picked straight up, left arm bent to 100*, and then club hits top of ball, misses ball, hits ground 4 inches behind ball, etc, etc.  I think you've all seen it before.

I don't want to try and build them into a scratch golfer or anything, but I just want them to be able to make decent enough contact most of the time such that they enjoy themselves.  So what advice do you give?  Where do you start?

Thanks a bunch!!

Remember your training Grasshopper.

I am working with my godson and daughter.   Start with grip and set up then film them.  Show what a good female player's swing looks like and then show them theirs.  Briefly talk about the 5 Keys, but focus on 1 and 2.  I'm sure @iacas and @mvmac can offer good tips as well.

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As a follow-up to my earlier thread about clubs for a total beginner, now I'm curious what you guys all think about trying to get them started.

Picture an adult (if it matters, we're talking about women here) who has never had any interest in golf before, and they pick up a club for what I can only assume is probably the first time.  You are the only person that they know that is a golfer, so they immediately look at you and say "What do I do?"  You have them hold the club with a grip that feels comfortable, then tell them to put their hands together, and then have them hit the ball.  (I should've foreseen this and taken a video)  Posture is all out of whack, legs nearly locked, bent over at the waist, then the club is basically picked straight up, left arm bent to 100*, and then club hits top of ball, misses ball, hits ground 4 inches behind ball, etc, etc.  I think you've all seen it before.

I don't want to try and build them into a scratch golfer or anything, but I just want them to be able to make decent enough contact most of the time such that they enjoy themselves.  So what advice do you give?  Where do you start?

Thanks a bunch!!

I hope this is your girlfriend and not your wife. Well, in either case, I hope you have a good D attorney. ;-)

That (comfortable grip) could be bad advice I think. If the grip fees comfortable or natural, it is most likely not good. I think a good place to start is having them hit 1/4 shots towards a target checking the grip and posture. I would also make sure their shoulders and hips are rotating. It sounds like, and most first timers do, use primarily the hinging of their arms at the elbows to move the club. I still fight that with my boy. I have him hold the club up against his shoulders and rotate. JMHO

Or you could show them this. . Just kidding!!! I was hoping that thread was deleted.

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I'm interested to know myself... I'm going through the same thing with my 14 yo son.

I started him off with a sand wedge... showed him how to grip it, and had him make 1/2 swings... back swing to knee height, follow through to knee height... he had a good time chasing a golf ball or 2 around the front yard and wants to do it some more. I'm using it as a reward for good behavior and as soon as he's been good for long enough, I'll get him out and hit some more balls in the yard.

Once he's got a 1/2 swing down, then it'll be a 9 iron or so and just practing swinging in the yard... then the driving range to see how well he does... then hopefully the course with him playing from the forward tees.

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I'm not a golf professional, nor do I play one on TV (nor at my local driving range)......

......I help them find a good pro.  I don't teach this game, even to beginners.  As Dirty Harry famously said, a good man knows his limitations! ;-)

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Remember your training Grasshopper.

I am working with my godson and daughter.   Start with grip and set up then film them.  Show what a good female player's swing looks like and then show them theirs.  Briefly talk about the 5 Keys, but focus on 1 and 2.  I'm sure @iacas and @mvmac can offer good tips as well.

Good ideas.  Thing is, I'm talking about somebody who isn't exactly super enthusiastic (yes, at least) about golf.  I don't want to jump right in with theory or technical stuff.  I'm looking for the quickest and easist way to get them to be able to make decent contact.  But, that probably doesn't exist.  I think next time I may try to just go over a little bit of key 1. :)

Thanks!

I hope this is your girlfriend and not your wife. Well, in either case, I hope you have a good D attorney.

That (comfortable grip) could be bad advice I think. If the grip fees comfortable or natural, it is most likely not good. I think a good place to start is having them hit 1/4 shots towards a target checking the grip and posture. I would also make sure their shoulders and hips are rotating. It sounds like, and most first timers do, use primarily the hinging of their arms at the elbows to move the club. I still fight that with my boy. I have him hold the club up against his shoulders and rotate. JMHO

Or you could show them this. ​. Just kidding!!! I was hoping that thread was deleted.

LOL, no, actually my wife's friend.  At this point though, it's kinda of just a hypothetical because they don't live terribly close and she's already said that she is going to get lessons.  But last Friday when we went to this outing is when I thought of this question.  When somebody grabs a club, looks at you and says "Now what??"  I'd like to be able to say or show SOMETHING that could help them make contact more than 25% of the time.

With my wife, who doesn't play that often and is therefore always shaking rust off, I'm usually suggesting that she swing with hips cheated forward.  She tends to sway back on the backswing and her low point is all over the place, so I basically try to get her swinging while doing the preset drill.  (I guess you could also call it a little bit stacky and tilty ;))  It seems to help her make decent contact somewhat.

When she's ready to play more often, and I've already told her this, I'm going to become hands-off and get her a few lessons with @mvmac . :beer:

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Teaching any beginner takes a ton of patience.

Teaching a spouse or friends takes 2 tons.

On a serious note, it takes dedication to teach a spouse.

I'll offer a few suggestions.

First write down a progressive plan and discuss a time frame to set a level of achievement.

Avoid hot weather, start in either the spring or fall.

The first few lessons should be (putting and hitting pitch shots off a tee) along with basic grip and posture.

Have the student make small pendulum motions (4 o'clock to 8 o'clock) maintaining a smooth temple.

Progression would be lowering the tee height along with a small arc rotation.

Try not to accelerate progress too quickly.

Create a variety of situations (tee it up in light rough, on the up slope of a small berm) use your imagination and keep it fun and simple.

Allow her to practice on her own for short period of times (start the session with her and take a break)

If she has good skills and it is a natural progression, then accelerate to 3/4 swings.(still work off a tee)

After two or three sessions, and progress looks good, now find a good practice area or a par 3 course and work in these areas for several sessions.

Keep it fun and simple an only have her hit pitch shots off of tees still.

Other practices can be at home using only a club at her discretion.

Preach "arc and temple" and always give praise and encouragement.

After two months she should be ready for involvement with a "ladies only" beginner group lesson.

They are available at many clubs, courses, driving ranges and schools.

Now she should ready to spend time, a few holes, maybe even nine holes in the later evening, playing around the green, then play from 50 yards, 75 yards.

Progress in other aspects as she improves.

Create a variety of situations she will encounter on a course and continue with short practice sessions.

From this point on, watch for improvement and possible frustrating situations.

Learning the proper basics for anyone learning golf is a key to their enjoyment as they learn.

At this point improvement is now on the shoulders of the student's dedication and willingness to improve.

Club Rat

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Good luck if it's your wife lol. It's hard to teach beginners especially females who aren't kids. Might sound sexist but most women just aren't as coordinated as most men. Then add in the wife factor and oh boy. I speak from experience I play with my wife sometimes. After a year of saying "stop bending your left arm" over and over and over and over and over and over and over she's gotten slightly better and can hit a decent drive. A pro I went to let her sit in on my lesson so she grips properly. However she chunks up almost every first attempt at approach shot. She won't let me record her but she is getting tired of not scoring well so I told her we gotta work on weight shift. First lesson was inside the house and she couldn't figure out how to start with a weight shift and had the clubhead moving first so I say "ok let's put the club down and get used to just the motion of the weight forward". Her response without even trying "I can't do anything without the club so you need to figure out how I can do this with the club". Ahhh the joys of marriage. As for starting out I think it should be the same with everybody. The basics. Grip, setup and posture first. Left arm not breaking down because if my wife is an example that will be a problem.
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I hope this isn't too far off topic but I played with a couple last week and neither or them were very good (at least they knew to play fast). They weren't brand new to the game but really needed help. The wife even said to me she wished someone would give them some advice.

Anyway, I didn't offer any partly because I can do more damage than good and partly because it just didn't seem appropriate at that moment. I did suggest lessons from a pro and mentioned that there are a lot of good deals out there.

I started watching what they were doing and noticed one obvious problem. Still I kept my mouth shut on the advice. After playing a few holes the wife finally hit a pretty nice shot. She looked at me and said "why can't I do that every time". I told her that it was the first shot where she did everything the same when swinging at the ball as she did on her practice swings. Mainly she brought her weight forward and kept her head still and over the ball until well after contact. She did a little bit better after that but I still think I should have kept my mouth shut.

I'm in the same boat. My wife has also expressed interest and has asked me to take her to the range. He'll no. I'm having her take a few lessons from a great female instructor near by. I think the frustration on both our parts would just result in a bad situation and tarnish her desire to play. Harvey Penick has a great chapter in his Little Red Book about avoiding teaching a spouse how to golf.

As far as the OP, I think this is best answer (and probably the funniest) anyone has given. Not to sound sexist, but I wonder if a female instructor may have more experience dealing with women students and if a woman student may connect better with a female instructor????

For the record, I'm a bit envious of the husbands and wives who can play this game without killing one another. I'd prefer my wife's company over most of the ass-clowns I've played with so far. She played once last year but just wasn't into it.

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1. Weight forward.

2. Handle forward.

3. Long arms.

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I'd start near a chipping green, best if empty of others. Ball on nice grass. Grip will be totally un-natural for a long time so be patient. Keep distance from nose to ball constant.  Arms always at full stretch. Rotate shoulders and hips slightly back then return with hips first.  Obey nose and arms rules. Let student hit 10 balls without comment, except to mention given rules. Never say 'wrong,  bad shot', or  any negative word.  Keep far away from judgement.

You collect balls. Repeat rules and drill.

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Keep it fun.

Don't make them feel like they are facing an un-climbable mountain.

Play a lot of match play so they can pick up on their disaster holes and maybe even beat you on their good (or lucky) holes.

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1. Weight forward.

2. Handle forward.

3. Long arms.

I appreciate all of the advice from everyone!!  But this is kind of what I was looking for.  For the long term, she'll get lessons form somebody who knows what they're doing, but for the very short term, this kind of thing will at least help me help them not whiff. :)

Oh, and Erik didn't mention it, but I think I may also add

4.  Don't be afraid to swing hard.

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I appreciate all of the advice from everyone!!  But this is kind of what I was looking for.  For the long term, she'll get lessons form somebody who knows what they're doing, but for the very short term, this kind of thing will at least help me help them not whiff. :)

Oh, and Erik didn't mention it, but I think I may also add

4.  Don't be afraid to swing hard.


From my experience on the range yesterday, I would also add.

5. - Go to the farthest position left on the range if you are wearing a skirt. :bugout:

Edit: Unless she is single and looking for a man. ;-)

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From my experience on the range yesterday, I would also add.

5. - Go to the farthest position left on the range if you are wearing a skirt.

Edit: Unless she is single and looking for a man.

LOL.  That is actually a good piece of advice for anybody who is a beginner and/or a little self-conscious or intimidated by other golfers.  Once they get comfortable and realize that 95% of the other golfers all suck giant balls ( no offense anybody ) they'll start to gain a little more confidence and can then hit from anywhere. :)

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