Golf Instruction Used To Be Simple

In the battle of simplicity vs. complexity, simplicity wins, every time. We gravitate toward products and services that eliminate complexity from our lives, and we rail against the things that complicate matters and make us feel stupid.

Back in the days of the three-martini lunch, golf instruction was simple and appealing. As a country club member you had a pro at your disposal. He’d work with you on the driving range, play with you, coach you to get better, and monitor your progress.

It was a personalized, one-on-one experience.

No two lessons were the same. He worked with the swing you had, and helped you build the skills you needed to score well on the golf course.

Accountability was built in… You’d practice because you knew the pro was keeping an eye on your progress.

But those days are gone.

Sam Adams Golf Instruction Used to Be Simple

Sam Adams Golf Instruction Used to Be Simple

Today, less than 5% of all golfers have a relationship with a golf pro. According to the NGF, less than half of all golfers have ever taken a lesson, and when they do they are often disappointed. There are 27 million golfers, but less than 4 million lessons in any given year. Maybe we should think about why that is…

Because most lessons are totally intimidating, especially for women. Because most instructors make them way too complex!  And most of all, because they frequently don’t work.

It is a rare instructor who sends the student off with fewer than five or six “things to work on.”  According to Phil Mickelson, even the tour gurus are often guilty of over-instruction. “Can’t you just give me one thing to work on?”

Often it’s a checklist of a dozen mechanical issues that the average guy can’t possibly grasp, much less incorporate into his game. The more technical the lesson is, the worse it gets.

Group lessons and most golf schools are especially ineffective. Common complaints include: “I came back worse than when I started.” “It was just way too technical.” “He didn’t give me anything positive, it was all about what I was doing wrong.”

Video analysis only helps the most analytical, visual learners; Maybe one half of one percent of the golfing population. And yet, instructors routinely use stop motion video to analyze every position and point out every flaw.

More often than not, it’s just confusing and demoralizing for the student.

In an issue of Golf Digest, Jim Flick, one of the top five teachers of all time, wrote an article that sums up the problem with modern golf instruction:

“A lot of today’s teachers are enamored with what works for the tour pros, and they give the same information to their higher-handicap students… In general, trying to swing like most of today’s tour pros will make the average golfer – say a 5 handicap or higher, – only worse.”

Rather than working with the student’s natural swing, today’s teachers tell everyone to emulate Tiger or some other tour player.

They bottom line is that if the golf industry is going to turn things around, the methods of instruction HAVE to change.  We’ve got to make it simple, enjoyable and fun.

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Sam Adams

I have spent most of my childhood and adult life in golf and I developed a love and respect for the game at a very early age.I was extremely fortunate to have wonderful teachers work with me throughout my career and never charged me a dime.In return for that I have probably given away more lessons than I have ever charged for.I just love helping people enjoy golf more.


Life Member PGA of America

Member PGA Quarter Century Club

Member PGA President’s Council on Growing the Game
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