GOLF HURTS. BUT IT DOESN’T HAVE TO…
Have you ever been on the golf course, about the 12th hole and said to yourself “THIS SUCKS! I’d much rather be at home with my family” or “I HATE GOLF! Why didn’t I just go to the bar with my friends to watch the game?!”
Well, I have probably more than most golfers in this world simply because I used to play it for a living. Now as a coach, I have found a formula to help all golfers play their best consistently!
Why doe’s it hurt so much? Because of bad coaching, swing tips, methods and the weekend golfer self proclaimed “expert coach” I first started teaching golf lessons in 2010 at the age of 25, I thought I knew it all! Fresh out of the University of Oklahoma where I had played on a full golf scholarship and was ranked in top 75 world amateur golf rankings. That was until the day I received my first “golf instructor” job and was blessed to be around a handful of coaches that had 20+ years more experience than I did, from the beginner golf coaching to playing and coaching on the PGA Tour. The first day at work, I realized I had a lot to learn. 8 years later, I am still learning and have a ways to go before I would consider myself one of the best golf coaches in the world.
Swing Tips And The Weekend “Golf Expert”
“Amateurs Teach Amateurs To Play Like Amateurs” – Wise Golf Expert
I believe people are inherently good. Example… You’re not feeling well so your mother tries to help, becoming the “doctor” and tells you to take this emergenc-e tablet, eat chicken noodle soup and everything will be better. After a couple days with no improvement you decide to take them to the nearest urgent care and they prescribe you a z-pack steroid to get rid of that annoying cold. It helps a little in the next day or so but then that damn cold is back, eyes itchy, coughing in everyones face (or backswing on the course). You’ve tried all the basics and you still don’t feel well…. You don’t have good insurance so you really don’t want to go to the doctor. It’s going to be $300 before you pay for the appointment and the meds he prescribes, but… you just can’t wait any longer, this is miserable! So you bite the bullet, google the best doctor in town and schedule the appointment. It’s going to be $250 just for the doctor to take a look. You schedule it, hang up the phone and ask yourself “is this really worth it, the urgent care was $150 and it really didn’t help me that much.” After canceling, rescheduling a few times, start feeling worse and worse each day, you decide to keep the appointment and go in to get to the root of the problem so you can finally feel better! At the appointment, this doctor has all the tools to run every possible test to get to the bottom of it. After a series of tests, they decide you have allergies, you are allergic to everything in the state of Texas! (this was actually my life)
In your first consultation (that cost you $250) you spent hours there just running tests, but weren’t feeling better! After you get the test results back, the doctor goes through the test to explain why you feel so bad, how you can feel better, and the process you will follow daily to ensure you are healthy and feel good every day! So they prescribe you some medical grade allergy meds and tell you to take claritan every day….so you do and you feel great!
How This Allergy Story Applies To Golf
You’re out playing with some friends or at the company golf outing, playing miserably… you can’t stop topping or hitting a foot behind the ball and it goes 5 feet. You then connect! Hit it solid, yet the ball slices off to the right and you never find it. Another $4 lost in the bushes and embarrassing shot. Your friend (cares about you and your golf, tries to play the role of the golf doctor) comes over and says “keep your head down”, you think “well my friend is really good – he can shoot in the 70’s so I should listen to him because he’s nearly an expert”. You start to hit more solid shots, but then start chunking more often and the occassional top.
This is still very frustrating, when you get home you google “cheap golf lessons Houston” a groupon pops up for the local pro down the street, or maybe a special deal at GolfTec (urgent care). “Perfect! This “golf pro” is going to fix my swing and i’ll be good enough to go to the next golf outing”. You take the lesson, he puts you on video, changes your grip and tells you to quit taking it so far inside. You hit it a little better but the pro says “give it time, with practice you will start hitting it solid with no slice!” So you go to the driving range next to your house, hit balls after work but its still not like you want. You start watching YouTube golf videos about how to hit it farther! You think by adding in this secret tip and practice you will become better than your friends! You go to the range again, after a few balls with the new YouTube golf video tip you can’t remember what your “golf pro” said nor what your friends said… So now you’re hitting, trying to get your practice in and you start shanking it in addition to your top, chunk, and slice!
That’s Where The Doctor Comes In
You schedule a lesson with this place called “Golf Performance Group”, they claim to take a different approach to golf lessons, but what possibly could be different? You decide to pay for the first lesson, which is nearly double the groupon local pro or GolfTec price and can’t quite justify it. Eventually you show up and the coach has you hit shots with a few different clubs in your bag on the Trackman Launch Monitor, not saying a word. You’re wondering “did I really just pay this much money to hit on a launch monitor that I have no clue what it means?!”
After 20 min or so, the coach explains which way your ball tends to fly (right or left), what causes it to do that (with proof from the $25,000 Trackman dopler radar used by nearly all PGA Tour pro’s and coaches) and how you can improve it to play your best golf consistently. The coach gives you step 1, “how to hit the ball solid.” Included is information you can take home with you of all the aspects that you can train at home or the golf course. He/she then lays out a roadmap of the process to get you to where you want to go. Step 2 “developing a consistent shot direction”, based on the trackman test results of what you naturally do.
You then go to the driving range the following day, look at your roadmap and start with step one. You only do step 1 and notice you are hitting the ball perfectly solid 4 out of 10 balls. You don’t know if this is good or not, because you’ve never had a way to measure your progression. The next day you go back and its 5 out of 10 balls, next week its 7 of 10 balls. You are now ready for step 2 (while maintaining step 1).
You schedule your schedule your second lesson and he explains why you either hit it 60 yards left (dead pull) or a 40 yard slice to the right, how could the same swing on video cause a 2-way miss with 100 dispersion?! The coach provides you with a couple drills to improve your direction, to include with your previous drills from lesson 1. Your main priority now that you can hit it consistently solid is developing a consistent shot direction on full swing. Coach informs you to pick the drill you liked best for lesson 1 for solid contact so you can maintain those improvements while you work on step 2…. This is what we call the process to game improvement.
I (JJ Wood) am not a “swing tip” or method golf coach. I prefer not to teach somebody one golf lesson or just a quick 30 minute session. My goal is to help all golfers become their “own best coach” and to “own their game”. We are all shaped and molded by our experiences. I worked tirelessly from the age of 10 to 24 trying to perfect this game, beating range balls, sitting for hours on the putting green, going months without a day off from the golf course. Never made it into a PGA Tour event. Why? I believe it is because I never had a clear vision on how to develop my game, understand it and be able to make adjustments when necessary. This is what Cameron McCormick and Jordan Speith have done so well and why Jordan is consistently at the top of the leaderboard. The same can be said for other top players like Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas, Jason Day and recent masters champion Patrick Reed. They realized early on there is no “secret” to playing this game well, but there is a formula for success. All golfers can guarantee improvements and success by finding a coach that knows the formula (roadmap), willing to invest in you as a player and apply it to your life schedule and natural golf swing/game. The player then needs to believe in their coach and formula 100% and follow the formula (process) consistently as described by their coach. If a coach is scared or not willing to explain the process, chances are they don’t believe they have enough knowledge to keep you as a student long term or don’t have a clue of what the process is.
JJ Wood, PGA
Director of Instruction
If you would like more articles like this and other game improvement advice please join my free online golf community below