This blog was originally published last July but received such good feedback that we thought it could be helpful to those who may have missed it or use it as a guide for anyone seeking golf instruction this spring.
Just like every other profession, sport, or activity there are good and bad instructors. In golf there are world renowned swing coaches that are household names who win all the awards and accolades. There are also some great ones that you have never heard of. And as far as the pretty crappy ones, unfortunately you don’t really know who they are until it’s too late and you have had a lesson with them. For success there needs to be a good rapport and a sense of comfort between coach and student. You are spending 45 intimate minutes with this person and being on the same level of understanding is something I feel is crucial. Whether you take one lesson, a package of sessions, or see someone once a week, the student must meet the instructor halfway in order to see improvement and make the duo a success. A swing coach is only as good as the players they teach and their performance on the course. Here are 5 ways you can become a better student, get more out of your sessions together, and in-turn see better results.
Let the instructor, instruct Whatever the reason may be, you are paying this golf professional or instructor your hard earned money, and more importantly your precious time, for their knowledge and expertise. You may have read 47 issues of Golf Digest and watched The Golf Channel till your eye balls jumped out of your head and bounce down the hall, but chances are you don’t know more than the teacher. Don’t tell them what you “think” you’re doing wrong. Let them observe and tell you. Hold off on repeating what you saw on that swing lesson show, unless it totally contradicts what you coach is telling you and now you’re thoroughly confused. Guys like Michael Breed and Martin Hull are among the best golf instructors in the world, but they are speaking to a very broad audience of millions of people. During your lesson it you and only you the coach is worried about. That is your time.
Trust the process, and commit If it doesn’t feel awkward or downright horrible, you haven’t changed anything. The most uncomfortable change for a player is the grip. You’ve been gripping the club the same way for 10 years only to find out its wrong and that’s why you’ve been slicing your driver. Coach changes your grip and, I know I know…..it feels terrible. But the worst thing you can do is change it back the next time you play or hit balls. You have to commit to the change and battle through it. The more you do it, the easier it will become and the more normal it will eventually feel. Same thing with a new stance, ball position, or swing thought. You played tens of thousands of holes of golf a certain way. Don’t expect to do a total 180° in 45 minutes.
Practice The absolute worst thing you can do to your pro is not play or practice between lessons. When I ask a student if they worked on the drills I gave them or how many times they played and practiced since I last saw them, and they say “none” or “I went out once”…I want to strike them in the ankle bone with their putter. And we have all done that at least once so you know how bad that hurts. I understand that the one thing we all lack these days is time. But I love to give my students drills they can do in their yard without even hitting a ball. So there’s no excuse there. Not working at it on your own personal time is one step forward and two steps back.
Show up early We are all guilty of getting out of the car and heading to the first tee. Sometimes that’s just the way it is and you are lucky to be on the golf course as it is. But try not to do that for your lesson. Show up 15 minutes early and get warmed up and get your blood pumping. Otherwise the first 15 minutes of your 45 minute session is you stretching or hitting balls. That leaves less time for instruction and progress.
Attitude is everything At the end of the day golf is a game and is supposed to be fun. I love a fiery competitor but I have no patience or tolerance for tantrums or meltdowns on the practice tee. Relax and try to enjoy the experience. If something doesn’t seem right or make sense, ask questions. My lessons are very dialogue driven. Communication is the key to everything; especially when trying to get better at this beautifully brutal game.
Bonus tip: This extra tip…is to tip. Don’t be afraid to tip your pro after a good lesson or after you shoot a good round while working with them. Especially if they work at a club where the facility may take a portion of their lesson income. And I’m not just saying this because I’m a pro. It is a wonderful gesture and will go a long way. The norm is $10-$20 if the lessons are under $100 each. That buys them lunch and may just make their day.
New Year, New Gear
One of the most fun parts of being back on the retail/fitting side of golf is having my finger on the pulse of all things equipment related. Even though we are technically in the middle of the wrap-around 2020/2021 season, we are at the beginning of a new calendar year. And that means the expiration and new signings of club endorsement deals among the pros. Here is a list of some of them with their former brand in parenthesis.
Adam Schenk (Mizuno)
Luke List (free agent)
Hudson Swafford (free agent)
Danny Lee (TaylorMade)
Sung Kang (Titleist)
Jim Herman (TaylorMade)
Kyle Stanley (free agent)
Henrik Norlander (TaylorMade)
Matt Neismith (Callaway)
K.J. Choi (Ping)
Joseph Bramlett (ball to full bag)
Fabian Gomez (ball to full bag)
Nelson Ledesma (ball to full bag)
Troy Merritt (ball to full bag)
Sam Saunders (Callaway)
Jon Rahm (TaylorMade)
Tyler McCumber (free agent)
Tommy Fleetwood (Free Agent)
Newly Free Agent
Jason Day (TaylorMade)
Ryan Moore (PXG)
Chris Kirk (Mizuno)
Lucas Glover (Mizuno)
Fantasy picks Webb Simpson continued his fabulous play at the Sony Open finishing in the top-5 for what seems like the 5th year in a row. Michael Thompson snagged me a top-25 and Harris English shot back-to-back 67’s on the weekend to finish 32nd. We’re back on the mainland this week for the former Bob Hope, now The American Express. There will be no amateur teammates this week thanks to Covid. Winner Patrick Reed Starting to be among the favorites every time he tees it up. Won here in 2014. Will contend Peter Malnati Led last week in putts per GIR and birdies. Finished t-18 here in 2019. Sleeper Adam Schenk Finished 14th last year and his best club is the driver. Let it fly on the resort courses.
Enjoy the game and each other,
Seth Zipay – Head Golf Professional