Thoughts on Traditional Golf Instruction

Teaching the game of golf is certainly an interesting paradox.

There was a teacher in Fresno where attended university who was very popular and well known. He was not TGM and I would classify him as one the “smoke and mirror” guys. Nonetheless, a really interesting and nice man. I used to practice over at his range on occasion and he loved to ask me questions about this very unorthodox method I was using and having success with.

He was an elder who came across as the “old man of life’s wisdom’s”

I remember him telling me as if it was yesterday,
“John, if you ever end up teaching this game, remember one thing, a golf lesson only takes 5 minutes, and you’ll spend the other 25 minutes so your student will think their getting their moneys worth”.

What he was saying is that you can only tell a person one swing thought per week, and that’s all their brain can really handle.

Then he went on to say,
“John, if you want to make a good living as a teacher, the student will always come back to you if they are hitting the ball better at the end of the lesson than they were at the beginning of the lesson”.
“The great thing about teaching is, they’ll be hitting it better by just warming up through the bucket!”

He had people lined up all day long… he really knew how to make a living as a teacher. Very complimentary, “your doing just great!”
He’d teach things like, “Just try to feel a little more relaxed or just stay with the shot a bit longer”.

The real kicker was when he told me “you just can’t tell them the truth if you want them coming back, and if you mess them up at all, there going to spend their money somewhere else!”

I remember fearing he was speaking a horrific human truth!
Maybe people really don’t want the truth! or can’t handle the truth!

Kinda like “The Matrix”, take the blue pill and see the truth or take the red pill and stay in this reality bubble…

We know that if people put in the time, and dedication, and apply TGM their game will improve dramatically, but how do you spot the golfer looking for the quick fix? and how do you deal with that?
Do you ever just band aid them?

Very interesting subject. Although I haven’t been golfing very long, I have met, and been taught by some highly regarded instructors.

One thing I remember hearing from one of the top guys in the country was something to the effect of: “I tell students not to read any of those magazine tips, but inevitably they do, and it’s great for business because a magazine tip always breaks a long term goal, and they come back to me to undo it.”

One of my ‘biggest’ instructors did indeed have people lined up all day. It was ridiculous. Literally 14 hour days, where he would just eat a handfull of nuts for lunch. I really liked this guy and he was genuine with me. He used to tell me his least favorite student type was the ones where you would spend quality time with them, and they just didn’t practice at all… they’d come back next week and you’d just be repeating yourself to them. I never wanted to be ‘that guy’.

The one thing I truly admired about that instructor was I could be seeing him at the end of the day, or the beginning of the day. His enthusiasm and personal investment in my improvement (no matter how busy he was) left a long lasting impression on me.

Yes as you say Prot, interesting and familiar stuff. I think I mentioned to before to Lag that I never had a lesson until my early 30’s. Prior to that I had “just played” and got by on feel, trial and error and so forth. It was only when I decided that I felt that I had bounced around for a couple of years at a mid to high single figure handicap and wanted to take the next step forward that I went for lessons. Crucially I think it was seeing myself on video that really made me go. Up until that point in my minds eye I swung the club like Ben Hogan but to my horror on video it looked more like Benny Hill!

Anyway like Prot I worked my way through a few minor “names” in the area. I never found any of them to be anything anything less than sincere in their desire to help or in their conviction that they could or would help. I tried to stay committed and to work hard with each one but I think everyone has a limit when they think its irrational to carry on with something. For me it was a combination of no real improvement and often deteriation in my ball striking coupled with instances when a teacher would fail to explain something in a way that satisfied my curiosity or desire to understand what was happening. With one guy I had over 10 lessons over a 6 month period and we never got past the backswing as he said there was no point in going further until I had mastered a shorter on plane backswing.

I hold no resentment at all towards these teachers. I liked them all as individuals and without them probably wouldn’t have found my way here. In a positive sense I just see it as crossing off potential blind alleys in the labyrinth. I know now that I have access to the right information and guidance. What happens from here will largely be governed by my application to that information and guidance, but at least thats more under my control. But just understanding whats really going on in the guts of the golf swing has been an enormously satisfying.



Most of the TGM guys I know are not particularly good players or even accurate strikers… some can bomb it …but all over the lot.

Good golf is played from the fairways and greens. We have a short game to save us on our bad days… not to rely upon to save us every round.

There is no reason, as some of you have seen, that you can’t just go out, play once a week and hit it where you are aiming. A proper golf swing that is both controlled and driven by the pivot, with a set of hands that know what to do is all it takes.

Ben Hogan said it best, if you want to learn to swing the club correctly, forget everything you have learned in the past!

Geometry must be created by real time forces acting within our body against the weight of the club and the ground. All the angles and positions everyone is obsessed with and dwelling upon must be created by dynamic motion, and proper conscious manipulation. There is a proper order to things. But observation based instruction will always fail, because observations are just that. The truth lies behind the veil. Better than proper geometry is proper intentions… that will create the proper geometry.

Once a player realizes they can’t work on a position, they are on their way to understanding the golf swing.

I watched some an L. Blake video a student sent, and again… it’s a lot of talk about angles, flying wedges and positions. Never once did I hear him mention the root or true causes of these conditions. Maybe it’s in the next series? Mac does a lot of talking about angles and stagnant positions too.

A starting point and a finishing point, moving in full speed in real time. This is how to train the muscles. You just can’t stop in the middle of the swing.

I have been reading George Knudson’s wonderful book and he talks a lot about how important it is that you view the swing as a motion… from a starting position to a finished and balance position. He talks over and over about swinging through to the target. I don’t think I am going out on a limb in transposing that to mean at least to P4 or beyond. The ball is nothing but in the way of the club. You don’t hit at the ball.

I’ll have my dissertation done hopefully in the next couple of months that will take a very deep and insightful look at George’s Natural Golf Swing.

Do you have a copy of Knudson’s DVD? It is the best 22 minutes of instruction that I have ever watched.

there is a quick video about Knudson here with a few swings that may be good to look at