Todays Lesson How to Take a Lesson

By Adam BarrJuly 7, 2003, 4:00 pm
WhatA new low: I took a golf lesson from a clown.
A new low for the clown, that is.
I kid. I kid because I love. Seriously, though ' we enlisted the help of Divot the Clown (a.k.a. PGA professional Kevin Compare) for the latest edition of Whats In The Bag? to illustrate a point, which is this: Unless you apply a couple of simple principles to the act of receiving golf instruction, you may just be clowning around.
We all know the golf swing is a complicated (some would even say unnatural) athletic movement. Its not something we see little kids just doing without encouragement, the way they run or tumble. So it has to be taught. Add to that the fact that we seldom seem to have enough time to give to our golf games, and you see the potential for wasted effort and hours, unless you know how to get and take instruction correctly. (About that time thing: As soon as Im Emperor of the World, enough practice and playing time for all will be a requirement. Dry cleaners, banks, and everyone else will only be open at night, when we need them and cant see the ball anyway. Ill get back to you on that one.)
But for now, lets review some of the ways we can get the best out of our golf instruction.
It sounds obvious. But some people come to a lesson so overwhelmed by their golf goals or problems, or intimidated by a teachers expertise (or both), that they fail to understand what theyre hearing. My advice: Squawk. Politely, of course. Its your game (and youre paying good money for the lesson), so dont be afraid to speak up. Ask questions, object politely if you think a concept isnt right for you, demand clarity in explanations. But
Dont object so much that you close your mind to things that could help you. A new grip, a shorter backswing, a new foot position ' they may feel odd at first, but give them a chance. The good teacher has your best golf interests in mind. Whatever the flow is, try to go with it, at least for awhile.
What do you want to accomplish in this lesson? New grip? Smoother tempo? Even if its just one goal, know it going in. The teacher may suggest something else ' after all, you may have misdiagnosed yourself ' but either way, a concrete goal will help both of you stay focused. And when you make a breakthrough youve been aiming at, the feeling is very sweet indeed.
Thats the practice part. Improvement doesnt come without it. Nuff said.
What task isnt easier when fun is added? I believe everyone gets a charge out of learning, no matter what they might tell the world. Get involved in your lesson, maintain a positive attitude, and youll be surprised how pleasing the results can be.
Just my personal take here, but very little beyond minor repairs can be accomplished in one lesson. Find a teacher you like and sign up for a series of lessons.
This has been invaluable for me. No matter how well or poorly you think youre playing, see your teacher every three months (climate permitting) for a look-over. From practice range to putting green to the kitty litter, let the teacher see what youre doing. Perhaps he or she will have some suggestions, or perhaps theyll sign off on your form as it is, or something in between. Whatever the result, youll come away knowing more about your game, and feeling a lot more confident.
Whether your instruction is going well or youre waiting for the improvement to come, remember my favorite golf quotation, attributed to Bing Crosby: My golf is woeful, but I will never surrender.
Thanks for joining us. Well stand aside for the Open Championship, and then be back July 23 for our next show. See you then.
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