My approach to teaching is to deal with each golfer as an individual. Differences in physical characteristics, abilities, disabilities, dedication to practicing and playing will all affect the potential of a golfer. I like to start each lesson by interacting with my students to make them feel comfortable while learning about their personality and learning style. I want to find out my student’s current level of play and goals to determine what type of lesson schedule should be followed. I will do my part in identifying problems, providing solutions and giving feedback; as the student you must do your part by putting in the time and effort to make the corrections.
I believe a proper set-up (grip, aim and posture) will give the student the best opportunity to properly swing the golf club. Once the set-up is achieved, I like to watch the ball flight of several shots. As I watch the flight of the ball I determine what is causing the ball to do what it is doing. Once I identify the problem, I like to explain to the student why it is happening and provide a solution using drills, video and teaching aids to make the changes. I believe drills should provide feedback, video should show problems and changes, and teaching aids should assist the student so they understand the changes taking place.
The main difference between the best amateurs and those playing on the PGA Tour is the short game. The short game can add up to 50% of your strokes. If you want to lower your scores you must reduce this percentage. I believe the short game (pitching, chipping, bunker game and putting) is all about confidence. With chipping, pitching and the bunker game having the proper set up and few moving parts is the key to consistency. Once you become consistent with the set up and motion of this part of the short game you can start experimenting with different clubs, different lies and different shots. Playing games with friends or creating challenges with yourself is so important with all aspects of the short game. This will give you confidence and keep you calm in pressure situations. You may also realize that instead of trying to get the ball just close to the hole you will now be thinking about making the shot.
Putting is the other part of the short game that can make or break your round. If you look back at your best rounds, the one thing you will recognize is that you made a lot of putts. Again, confidence is so important. I feel you should think about making all your putt. We know from statistics that the percentages decrease as we get farther from the hole but we want to have the confidence that we can make every putt. Again, playing games with friends, creating challenges and different drills will all help in giving you the confidence to become a better putter.
Developing a pre-shot routine will allow you to focus on the shot you are hitting. If you watch golf on TV you will notice each golfer has some type of routine before he or she hits a shot. I believe a pre-shot routine should include these 5 elements:Evaluate the shot.
When evaluating the shot you want to determine the distance, elevation, wind, pin position and any other factors that you cannot control.
Selecting a club.
You want to select a club that fits the type of shot you want to hit based on your evaluation of the shot. Be confident in your selection.
Visualize the shot.
Once you’re confident with your club selection, visualize yourself hitting the ball to your target.
When you take your practice swings you should be feeling the type of shot you want to hit, not working on mechanics of the swing.
Setting up to the ball should be natural. I like to pick a target a few feet in front of me that is in line with my main target.
You should use some type of pre-shot routine before every shot from the tee to the putting surface. You want to be consistent with your routine and you should practice your routine. When developing a pre-shot routine you want to keep these 5 elements in mind and make sure your routine is not too short or too long.
When I give a playing lesson I talk a lot about course management. I’ve helped a lot of people lower their handicaps just by having them look at their options and choosing the one that gives them the best opportunity to save strokes. Course management is really knowing what you can do with the capabilities that you possess. Knowing how to swing the club is very important but by knowing how to play your way around the course you will be able to shave strokes off your score. All levels of golfers can benefit from proper course management.