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How To Become A Better Golfer

Becoming a better golfer is a three-part process.

  • Play more
  • Practice
  • Take lessons

I have listed them in order of importance.  This may seem strange coming from someone who makes their living teaching golf, but taking lessons is least important in learning how to play golf.  However, you will go further, faster if you take lessons.  Practice as well is less important to learning to play than playing is itself.

Look at it this way.  If someone had never seen a golf club, much less a golf course, they would have no idea about how to play golf.  Give them some lessons and they will know something of the proper mechanics of a golf swing but still have no idea how to play.  Take them to a driving range for some practice, and maybe they will get some sense of how to hit a ball but still no concept of what it is actually like to play.

Take them to a golf course and they are on their way to learning to play golf.  Mind you, they will not be very good at it, but they will at least have some idea how to play.  The more you play, the better you will get at playing.  You will be limited by your skills and that is where practice comes in.  The point of playing is to get the sense of the game.  It is to get knowledge on procedure and etiquette.

To play better you must learn to hit the ball better.  To learn to hit the ball better you must…hit balls.  Take a lesson and this may get a little easier, but by gaining a little knowledge, you will not necessarily hit the ball better.  After all, how did you learn to walk?  Did your Mom and Dad take you to a pro for lessons?  No, you just walked.  You have been practicing everyday since you first tried.  Imagine if you spent as much time hitting golf balls as you have walking.  My guess is you would be pretty good at it, unless of course walking is giving you some difficulty.  Then perhaps you would not be reading this in the first place.

Finally, take some lessons.  Understand that all the lessons in the world won’t make you a better golfer.  They will just give you the knowledge and the tools to become better.  You must then apply this knowledge to your practice and then on the golf course.

How to take a golf lesson is an extremely important issue.  Most golf instruction is process based.  That is you are taught by the professional a step-by-step, part-by-part process of how to operate your body and thus the proper mechanics of a golf swing.  This seems sensible enough and is actually rather desirable in that it makes the golf professional the keeper of the great secret of how to make your golf swing better.  This relieves you of responsibility for making your golf swing better.  It’s up to the pro.  In this kind of teaching all you must do is follow directions.  You should be much more involved in the process than this.  You should be providing the instructor with information about what you are feeling and how you think you and your body are responding to the information you are being given.

In my teaching, I use an approach that encourages your participation and I am sorry to have to tell you, but it is up to you to make yourself better.  I can help you, but just like all of the things you have ever learned it is up to you to take the responsibility for making yourself better.  I will help you and guide you.  I will keep steering you onto the right path.  It will however, remain up to you to learn what you are doing.

In my teaching, I do more asking of questions, than answering them.  The purpose is twofold.  First, I am looking for feedback from you, the student.  This is to get you to understand what you are doing.  Right or wrong is not the issue, but what sense do you have for what you are doing.  How is your body responding and are you getting a feel for the motions you are trying to create.  Secondly, I am mostly asking you the questions you should be asking yourself as you practice on your own.  After all, what good is practice if you don’t know what it is you should be practicing?

An important issue in taking a lesson is to keep in mind that the last piece of information that led to you hitting the ball better is not what made you hit the ball better.  All of us are looking for the magic bullet.  We are looking for that piece of information or the process that will have us hitting the ball straighter and farther all of the time.  It doesn’t exist.   If it did everyone would instantly become a better golfer and golf would therefore no longer exist.

Becoming a better golfer is like all things a matter of time and effort.  Most people learning to play golf have achieved success in their own chosen field.  You must learn to use the knowledge gained from your own success and apply them to your golf game.  Your success in your field was part knowledge but more importantly the time and effort spent in pursuit of the goals you set for yourself.  Knowledge is important, but understanding the time and effort and the application of what you have learned will make you the golfer you want to be.


 

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Almost all of the books mentioned on this site are available from:

Tips, Articles and More

How to Become a Better Golfer

Getting the Most Out of Your Practice

A Beginners Primer

My Favorite Golf Books

Brian's thoughts on golf...and other things

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