Knowing when to hold back - Evolving as a golf coach October 09 2015

There was a time when my lessons were too detailed, too complex and too hard to absorb. It’s not an easy thing to admit to but it’s true. It’s the danger of learning too much too fast without proper time for practical application during that learning process. But when you learn good things your appetite for learning tends to grow, you have enough but you want more, it’s our nature as human beings.

These days I give far better lessons. It’s not that I’ve stopped learning, I never intend to but I have a much better appreciation for doing what is necessary and nothing more. It’s easy to forget that you can only deal with what is in front of you, what’s happening in the now. Thats not to say it’s not a good idea to have a plan or a blueprint so to speak, it’s just that you don’t have to share it.

This morning I gave a great golf lesson, I’m not being facetious, it was difficult to have done a better job and you know what? It was easy.

So I’m going to share it with you. There are three key features I’d like you to take into consideration for your future lessons, these are:

  1. Give the player a basic understanding of one key point.
  2. You need a player to set up to match their intent
  3. Changes usually come in pairs

Here are the players initial 7 irons from the Trackman Combine we began the session with, as you can see he hit push cuts on all the shots.

During discussion with the player I asked what he would like to do with regards to shot shape, he was somewhere in-between wanting to draw the ball or hit it straight. For me the average player seeking straight is a mistake, I’d rather see a curve one way or the other, it doesn’t bother me which as long as it’s within the players capability. So we settled on a draw.

The player had a combination of a path a little too straight into the ball and occasionally out to in and a face significantly open to that path. THIS IS HIS KEY POINT. Everything else aside if he gets the face closed to any path the ball will curve right to left. We also had an issue with consistency of path, one three ball sequence went -1º, +0.5º and +7º, that’s making life difficult by anyones standards.

So in my mind he need his face closed to path and that path to be more consistent and somewhere out to the right. We set to work on his set up, pictures and notes are below.

His right hand was a problem, it led to issues with the right arm and shoulder alignment, open face and more bias towards out to in were the result. During his swing he would tend to come out of his posture on the way down, this typically means more in to out. Remember that changes usually come in pairs?

Every ball began to draw, sometimes across the target line, sometimes not all the way back to it but they were drawing. Making his set up more appropriate suddenly had his path much further to the right, as much as 9º but as I explained to him this means he has a pretty big window to align the face in and have the ball draw without hooking. At this point he is functional, we work on it for a while. Toying around with ball positions and face angles at address to either reduce or increase the amount of draw, enabling him to adjust both in play and unsupervised practice.

This is the point at which I would in the past have done much more, I’ve literally given him NO in swing instruction, no thoughts and with 15 minutes to go I’m not about to now. The problem is the path is too far right a lot of the time and it won’t be long before the curve becomes too great, here comes the second change to complete the pair.

The loss of posture on the downswing needed addressing, for me it was the cause of the path inconsistency but we’re going along beautifully, how do I add it in?

Some explanation and a dry drill rather than a swing thought was my solution, a nice simple exercise to develop a feel for a more stable motion, nothing more. We discovered a little issue with mobility when performing this drill so I recommended he seek out a physio who will know a lot better than I as to what to do. A few reps of this followed by a practice swing and some shots saw the path come down to around 4º in to out, all the while keeping the face slightly closed to it for some rewarding baby draws. 

A set up change and a dry drill to provide a feel, a pair of solutions. Simplicity for the player and results to put a smile on both of our faces. Tough to think how hard we can and do make it sometimes.