In a recent lesson, my student stated that he wanted to just work on the driver. To his dismay, I refused to do this, stating that the driver requires his best swing and we needed to develop the swing first before trying the big club.
He replied that he could hit his short clubs all right, but the driver was the big problem. I had him hit several shots with his short clubs. He was all over the place, missing the target by a large margin.
His assessment of his golf swing was flawed and not realistic, which is a common trait among recreational golfers.
The driver, being the longest club with the least amount of loft, will expose any flaws you may have and magnify them. My philosophy about learning is pretty simple in that, as a baby, you first crawl before you walk, walk before you run and then run.
Crawling in golf is hitting the short chips and pitch shots, walking is hitting the short and middle clubs and finally running is hitting the long clubs, including the driver. This method of training isn't very popular, but necessary to any long time improvement.
A great teacher once remarked that if you want to become a good long hitter, you first have to learn how to become a great short hitter. He liked to say hitting the driver was nothing more than a 300-yard chip shot. What he meant was, some swings are bigger than others, but the swing remains the same.
When I meet a new student, I ask to see how he or she hits short 20- or 30-yard pitches. This gives me a good idea of how the long swings are going to be and what I'll need to do to provide permanent successful results.
Everyone wants a quick fix, and I say that this is the quickest fix to better your game.
Instead of repairing faults all the time, I want to build a solid foundation that will need a light touch up from time to time.
Practice doesn't make perfect. Practice makes permanent. Don't become good at doing it wrong. Learn the correct fundamentals and become great at doing it right.
The people who keep golf statistics claim that in the last 20 years, the average handicap has changed very little. That's a slap at golf instruction in general, but I see it as a challenge to a golf student to take a different approach to the learning experience.
If you want a band-aid for your golf ailment, don't ask for my help. Band-aids dry up and your golf "injury" will return (any competent instructor will take the same tack to assist you in long term game improvement).
If you want to get better at golf, or any endeavor for that matter, get on the learning curve and enjoy the ride. You'll be glad you did.
Yours for better golf.
Del Starks is a PGA teaching professional at Abacoa Golf Club in Jupiter. Contact him at (561) 262-0708, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.delstarks.com.