As a PGA Golf Professional, I’ve had the privilege of giving thousands of lessons to golfers from the ages of 5 to 85. Most players, like myself, are golfers for life who have a true love for the game. I’m proud to say this select group even includes my wife!
Adult students often come from corporate backgrounds and want to learn the game as an additional tool for their business resumes. They come from diverse professions including law, medicine, education, professional sports, politics, and the arts.
For the past nine years, I have also trained hundreds of fellow golf professionals, including PGA and LPGA members. My junior students have played for twenty different high schools in New York City and Westchester County. They have won multiple tournaments on the U.S. Kids, MET PGA, AJGA, IJGA and Hurricane golf tours. My college players have played for Division 1, 2, and 3 schools.
As I celebrate my twentieth year as a professional golf instructor and coach, I take a humerus look at the varied types of people who have become my students throughout the years.
A parent will often call me and say something along the lines of this: “Hi Coach, my child is 4 years old and swings it like Tiger!” A classic case of the child golf-prodigy. If your child swings like Tiger Woods already, why are you asking me for lessons?!
This junior golfer wants to hit the ball a mile and putt lights out (yikes!). After a lesson like this, I often see the parent reversing everything that was worked on during the practice. This kind of parent also tends to change coaches as often as their socks– so I don’t get too much time to work with these students.
The Quick Fixer
This golfer wants their lesson immediately and will call around until they find someone available. Since they’re just looking for a Band-Aid to get through their next round, I generally never end up seeing them more than once. Glad to help, anyway!
The Do It Your Self-er
This golfer has everything: every book, magazine, video and training aid ever created. They bring a variety of gadgets to the range with them, and the set-up often takes longer than the actual practice time. After analyzing and re-analyzing slo-mo videos from practice, they soon realize that they might not know too much about what they’re actually doing after all. That’s when I get the call.
This golfer wants to spend a full hour (or more) hitting driver shots– just drivers and only drivers. They are convinced (usually by a friend) that fixing the tee shot will instantly enable them to shoot lower scores. We know very well from previous blog posts that there are plenty of other factors to shooting low scores, but there is usually no changing their minds. Driver it is, I suppose– even though I know well and good that it won’t help all that much.
“Hi coach, my name is Susan and I’d like to get my boyfriend some lessons for his birthday. He’s been playing a long time and is really good.” I happily and promptly email the gift certificate, but I never hear back from anyone. Five months later, a call comes from the boyfriend (around the end of November) wanting to book his lesson. Fortunately for me but unfortunately for them, I’ve already left for Florida.
The Husband and Wife
After many failed attempts to teach their spouse the game (and the ensuing endless arguments and fights), the wife decides she wants lessons from a professional. When I receive the call, it’s usually from the husband saying it’s his idea for the spouse to take professional instruction. Hopefully they can play together peacefully once both spouses have learned the proper technique!
The Corporate Beginner
This person works in an office where everyone plays golf. They are seeking one lesson to master the game before the big company outing so they don’t “embarrass themselves.” While I understand the attempt, please keep in mind that I’m no magician! It takes a lot of time, patience, practice, and dedication to master your golf craft confidently.
Perhaps you’ve heard this story before: after 30 years of sitting behind a desk, it’s time to retire to Florida, join a country club, and take up golf! Most of these retirees are not in the best shape and have no idea of how many muscles are used in the golf swing (I’m sure lots of people don’t realize how much the body is actually engaged!). Sadly, after the first month and several unfortunate back spasms, the clubs are usually put in the garage never to be seen again.
The Perfect Swinger
This golfer has spent years on the driving range in search of the perfect golf swing. Having never practiced the short game, they’re mystified as to why they can’t break 90. Similar to the driver, this golfer doesn’t realize how many balanced skills are involved in the game! It’s okay to hone in on skills that you would particularly like to master, but don’t ignore everything else.
Here’s to another year of teaching, meeting new golfers, and encountering surprising challenges at the training center and on the course each day.
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