Your First Golf Lesson ...
Overview of Fundamentals and the Learning Process
Learning is a systematic process. None of the fundamentals you MUST master are difficult in and by themselves. Even putting pieces of the puzzle together is relatively easy ... IF YOU KNOW HOW TO GO ABOUT YOUR LEARNING IN A SYSTEMATIC MANNER. There are a couple of serious problems with learning. Both have to do with the learner and not the learning process. The first problem is most golfers refuse to practice in an organized, progressive way. The second problem is there is far, far too much emphasis on the adaptation of required fundamentals to individual needs. There is such a thing as a standard biomechanical model for maximum efficiency. Too many golfers, with the ignorant permission of their pros, do not make the effort to comply with the demands of the standard model. The fact that a blind hog finds an occasional acorn does not change the fact that most blind hogs are skinny! Golfers can hit a great shot with bad fundamentals, but they can never achieve the consistency of a well founded, bio-mechanically simple swing motion.
How to Fix a Slice in Five Swings
One picture is worth a thousand words. Words take time to speak and time is money to both a learner and an instructor. The next three illustrations represent a summary of the most important things you MUST know and be able to do in order to hit a golf ball high, far and straight. All three pictures show the club in motion. In truth, all three pictures actually show the RESULTS of a lot of preparatory work which sets in motion a predictable result.
Memorize this concept ... Point your nose at where the ball WAS and let your arms "fly" through your nose! This is the "natural" golf swing motion already built into your body. Your task is to ALLOW the motion through pre-swing fundamentals and controlling the critical parts of your body! A few simple checkpoints of correct performance can be matched with what you see the ball doing in the air to self correct your mistakes!
A few master "keys" are your ticket to taming the dreaded slice in five minutes and less than five swings!
It takes longer to read the following instructions than it takes to fix your slice ... a slice is the basic, initial shot making error for almost all golfers ... fixing a slice is the starting point for skill improvement ... you may choose to play a fade or a draw, but getting control of your swing motion is step one!
To fix a slice, use the Hooker/Release Drill
Club ... use a mid-iron (6, 7 or 8 iron)
Stance ... "Close" your stance so the toe of your back foot is even with the heel of your target side foot; narrow your stance to less than shoulder width; toes point straight ahead;
Grip ... "Spread" your hands so the top hand is in a normal position and the bottom hand is positioned at the end of the grip (your bottom thumb touches the metal/graphite of the shaft); rotate the top hand into a "weak" position (thumb 10-11 o'clock for right handed golfers); rotate the bottom hand into a "strong" position (1-2 o'clock position) to help control your elbow position on both sides of the swing
Posture ... chest down, chin up to promote an easy shoulder turn
Tee the ball high
Backswing ... limit the backswing to about a 3/4, mid-chest high length; your front/target side shoulder must move behind the ball, your backside elbow must be folded and pointing down to the ground and your weight must move onto your back foot
Transition ... come to a slight, deliberate pause before initiating the forward swing; check your nose, shoulder, elbow and left to right foot balance
Nose ... point your nose at the tee AND leave it there; when you swing, don't look up AT ALL (in the beginning), count to five before you look up; feel the ball hooking ... after some practice, you can let your nose come up as a result of your shoulder catching your chin
Swing ... with your nose pointed at the ball, "sling" the handle of the club past your nose to a 3/4 finish position; deliberately "turn the club over" so that your thumbs and the toe of the club are on the left side (9 o'clock position) of the shaft at the finish
Watch and Feel ... WATCH the ball violently hook low and left (for right handed golfers); FEEL an "overblown" but generally mirror image position of your backswing (back shoulder "catches" your chin as it passes your nose, target side elbow folds, backside arm "reaches" for your target and weight transfers to the outside of your target foot
Try, try again ... if the ball does not hook, make another swing with an even greater effort to "look at where the ball was and to "roll them thumb bones"; if your nose or elbows come up, then force them to stay down
This drill has NEVER failed to eliminate a slice for thousands of clients; you might completely whiff the first couple of shots, but the ball will hook if you have followed these instructions ... hooking/drawing the ball is an indicator that you are doing more things in a fundamentally sound manner than if you slice
Modifying the Hooker/Release Drill into a Real Golf Swing
You cannot play with a hook any more than you can play with a slice. The purpose of this drill is to teach you that you can take command and control of your swing motion in order to control the ball and to teach you the feel for a solid golf swing motion. To turn a hook into a normal shot, systematically, "by-the-numbers", reduce each pre-swing "trick", one mini adjustment at a time; take your time, hit 3-5 balls before each change. While you will be quickly hooking the ball, working through this drill should constitute the majority of a complete practice session (30+ minutes).
First ... gradually widen your stance while maintaining the toe to heel stagger and split hands grip; after your feet have returned to normal, shoulder width, begin to reduce
Second ... begin to reduce the stagger between your heel and toe following the same slow pattern
Third, begin to close your hands; when your hands are together, assume a fully normal grip strength position
Fourth ... cease "rolling your hands", simply look at the ball and allow your arms to "fly" through your nose; be very conscious of your shoulder "catching your chin" and your lead elbow folding ... if your are doing things right, then your weight will continue to shift to the outside of your lead foot
Fifth ... gradually tee the ball lower and lower as your confidence rises
Sixth ... gradually lengthen you backswing insuring your shoulder gets behind the ball, your elbow points down and your thumbs are "under" the shaft at the top of the backswing
Here's some more valuable info about how to get your money's worth from a lesson!
Most golfers hate the “F” word … fundamentals. This is often a point of conflict between a teacher and a client. Learners want to hit lots of balls and teachers want learners to understand critical concepts and to develop skills in a systematic manner. Professionalism requires a teacher to be both technically and tactically competent. There’s a third “T” involved … tactfully. The highest form of respect is shown for a client when a skilled teacher takes command and control of the learning environment while respecting the client’s needs and person. Said another way, there’s typically two people on the lesson tee. One is an accomplished doctor, lawyer, businessman, welder or Indian chief (accomplished is defined as someone who can afford to spend discretionary income for golf instruction). The other should be a skilled teacher.
Learning a sports skill is not like buying a toaster a Wal-Mart. When you buy a toaster, you have the right to expect it to make toast. Only a few things can go wrong. If things go wrong, then you have the right to take the toaster back for a refund. Golf lessons do not work the same way. Learning to hit a golf ball is a TEAM SPORT. There are no final guarantees and there are lots of things that can go wrong. Getting value for your hard earned money is a two-part process. First, you must find a skilled, professional teacher. This task is not nearly as easy as my might think. Second, YOU must be willing to do your part. Patience is required because there are LAWS of learning that WILL be obeyed or there will be NEGATIVE consequences. Putting in the between lesson practice effort and showing both patience and cooperation during the lesson are the characteristics of a good learner. This is the best way to get value for a big investment … time, money, effort and emotion.
Teaching is a logical step-wise problem solving process similar to many other situations. Business people who jump into quick solutions often live to regret it. Most of you already know the problem solving drill … analyze the problem, collect information, develop solutions, choose the best solution, implement the solution, monitor the progress and make changes to the plan as needed. A golf lesson follows a similar plan. Golfers who resort to quick fix band-aids and gimmicks fall into the same trap. Sorry, there is no substitute for being fundamentally sound! Golfers hate the “F” word because the “F’s” are the un-sexy part of any lesson. Learning the “F’s” requires patience and discipline on the part of both the teacher and the client. Sound “F’s” create the foundation for consistent success. Done properly, this part of the learning process can go both smoothly and quickly. The cruel reality is about 90% of golf instruction involves what you do before you make a forward swing! Here’s the bottom line … unless you are willing to make a disciplined learning effort, then you should probably save your money for some cold beer after another challenging round.
As dismal as all this sounds, learning does not have to be a torture test. Learning can be both fun and productive! Done properly, you can expect to advance towards your learning goals. The idea is to connect the dots between the required dog work needed to master the “F’s” and the fun part of seeing a planned shot fly to the target. Connecting the dots can be done by pairing one pre-swing fundamental with one in-swing fundamental. It's not a terrible idea to start with the biggest in-swing fundamental error first, pairing it with the most important pre-swing fundamental ... correct posture. Often, this will lead to nearly instantaneous, positive results. Using drills associated with the particular fundamental also speeds your progress while deepening the learning.
A reasonable goal is for you to learn how to teach yourself and to become independent of most golf instruction. Here’s some more good news … I expect you to learn and perform. This expectation is not based on my skill as a teacher or your great athletic ability! Fundamental relationships are both easy to understand and believe it or not, relatively easy to execute. Pre-swing fundamentals require zero athletic ability, you have 100% control how they are executed and 80% of all swing errors are DIRECTLY related to pre-swing fundamentals. Further, the whole swing motion involves only four critical body parts. While mastering the game is impossible, the development of a productive, basic whole swing motion (the pictures) can be accomplished in one lesson.
P.S. Here’s an addition to your first lesson, look at where the ball WAS! Scientific studies indicate there’s a high correlation between looking at the ball and actually hitting it … in Texan speek, you can’t hit what you can’t see and you can’t see what you’re not looking at!