On Golf Instruction, Part 1

Jerry and I both take a pretty dim view of the quality of golf instruction we see around. One recent example: we were at the range and watched an instructor give a "junior clinic." Mostly he seemed to be doing little more than providing the kids with balls. One little girl of about eleven was swinging entirely from her arms, no shoulder turn at all, and so unsurprisingly was hitting without any power and without any accuracy. She clearly wasn't having any fun. If the point of the exercise was simply to make contact with the ball, it's really no harder to swing from core than than it is with the arms, but he didn't offer her one word of explanation. From what we could see, all she learned that was that she has no power and that golf isn't fun. Not only could we not see how this "clinic" was serving her, we thought it was likely to her detriment.

More broadly, if golf instruction were better, wouldn't more people be better at golf? I came through this winter of teaching skiing with many criticisms of the way skiing is taught, but I'll say this: with a little application, a novice skier can learn to ski well enough to actually have fun in just a few days.

Now it's not unreasonable to say that golf is a harder sport than skiing, but I still think it's an indictment of the way golf is taught that so many of us don't get anywhere with our games, and, for as obsessed as we get, so few of us really have fun at the sport.

I'm not suggesting that instruction isn't important. I came out of a winter of teaching skiing more impressed than ever at the value of good instruction. It's worthwhile to take advantage of the knowledge of those who've come before you.

Nevertheless, neither Jerry nor I have taken a golf lesson since starting TTW. We're applying our knowledge of energy dynamics and proper body function. We're experimenting. And we're definitely seeing improvement.

Still, it's worth asking: could we speed up that process with some good instruction?

By definition, the answer is yes: good instruction helps you learn more quickly. But the sticking point--and what I intend to discuss over the next few weeks--is that it depends very much on what you mean by good.

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