In the last of this series of three, I’m going to share with you the experience of one of the best golf lessons I’ve ever had. In the previous articles – “The Ugly” and “The Bad”- I explained how one pro did not seem to know the difference between a strong and a weak grip, and how another focused on trying to get me to play golf that I was incapable of playing because of my physical limitations. I also suggested a way of finding the grip that is best for you.
We all have our own ideas about what contributes to a successful golf lesson but, in the final analysis, it’s one in which we learn to hit the ball consistently better. Notice the word “consistently”; it’s one thing for the pro to give us a quick fix which lasts for the duration of the lesson, but quite another to give us that one little “nugget” that stands the test of time.
Again, I must point out that I am not using this series of golf advice articles to put forward a general criticism of teaching pros, most of whom do a fine job. Its purpose is to highlight the importance of taking care in choosing whom we entrust our golf game to, and to suggest one or two tips that may help with your golf.
So let us take a look at what was, for me, not only a superb lesson, but actually had a life-changing effect. Over-dramatic? Not at all because, as a direct consequence of that lesson, I changed my career!
3. The Good
If you read my “Bad” lesson experience, you may recall that one of its legacies was a pulled muscle in my left arm that kept me out of the game for two weeks. After I recovered, I went to another guy (who not only looked far too young to be doing what he was doing but also, if I’m honest, came across as a bit surly), with my new irons and a slice.
Now, I’m going to give you a potted version of this lesson just so I can make the point I need to make. The pro went through a number of other things, so in case you think he may have missed out something crucial, it’s because I haven’t covered it all here.
Anyway, after hitting a few balls – most of which went right again – I was, of course, expecting him to suggest some miracle cure, but my first reaction to what he actually said was to think, “Oh no, here we go again”, because his response surprised me.
“You haven’t got a slice” and without another word took the club from me, put some masking tape on the sole, laid a plastic mat down and told me to hit the ball off it.
After another ball to the right, he took the club from me again and showed me the sole. A sliver of tape had disappeared towards the toe.
“Fundamentally”, he went on, “there’s not too much wrong with your swing; a couple of issues but when I change them they’re not going to affect how the club lies at impact. The fact is, the club is too flat; the toe digs in, opens the clubface and sends the ball right; and in your case, it’s not a slice”.
With my club still in hand, this guy excused himself, disappeared for a couple of minutes before returning and, after putting on some new tape, got me to hit another shot off his plastic mat. The ball went dead straight and when I looked at the sole, the sliver had gone from its center.
He repeated the exercise with the rest of my irons, charged me $30 over and above the cost of the lesson for altering the lie angles, and said something that actually changed my life because it was then that my fascination with club technology was born.
“I can’t understand how pros can teach effectively without knowing about the clubs their pupils are using. Technique and the golf clubs go hand in hand and a good pro will know how one affects the other and tailor his lessons accordingly”.
I left that lesson with a spring in my step because as golf advice goes, it was about as good as I’ve ever had before or since and until then, I had never really considered the importance of having my golf clubs set up for me.
In summary, if a pro makes little or no reference to your clubs during a lesson, it could be that you need to find another teacher.
So there you have it. “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly Of Golf Advice”.