Guru Workshop Presentation(Guru) – 2016 Blending Old School Ideas with New School Technology

Here is my presentation from last years “Guru Workshop” that I hosted at Carmel CC. I hope you enjoy it and feel free to share. You never know, you might be asked to speak at the next one




“Guru’s Teaching and Coaching Workshop” on March 31st (Details Inside)

I am excited to announce that for the 3rd year, I will be hosting my teaching workshop at DSC_0340Carmel CC on Monday, March 31st. I started this workshop 3 years ago where I presented by myself. Year 2 I started to add top teachers like John Graham to come and present which brought it to whole other level. This year I am proud to be joined by Andrew Rice, Director of Instruction at Berkeley Hall in Hilton Head, SC. This will make for an exciting, interactive learning experience for all involved. The cost is 200.00 per person which includes lunch and (8) MSR Credits. The Theme of this year is: “Using todays technology and research with yesterdays language to help your students improve”

I have already had quite a response from pros from different states but I hope that the pros in the Carolinas take advantage of this outstanding educational opportunity. Here is more about your speakers and what will be covered:

Jason Sutton, Jason is the Director of Instruction at Carmel CC in Charlotte, NC and is the 2013 Carolinas PGA Section Teacher of the Year, will be hosting a workshop designed to take your teaching and coaching skills to the next level. Jason will share the knowledge acquired from over 23 years of teaching experience and thousands of hours on the lesson tee which will include his framework for teaching full swing and putting, keys to success through personal development and will also unveil his putting research using the SAM Putt Lab data and how to use it to help your students improve their putting. Jason utilizes technology such as TrackMan and SAMPuttLab to help his students improve at an accelerated rate.

John Graham. John is the Director of Instruction at Webster Golf Club in Rochester New York, Ranked #21 in New York by Golf Digest, A DSC_0288Senior AimPoint green reading Instructor that specializes in teaching putting. John will discuss the common myths in putting and green reading and share how to properly assess your students in a putting lesson coupled with SAMPuttLab data research on real life situations.  He is also expert in social media and will share his story of how social media has helped him grow his business and how it can help you and your facility.

Andrew Rice , Andrew is the Director of Instruction at Berkeley Hall where his students learn to understand, and better control, the factors that influence the flight of their golf ball. He has been teaching golf for almost 25 years and uses current teaching technology such as TrackMan and Swing Catalyst to help golfers of all abilities improve. He is one of nine TrackMan Partners and is also a SwingCatalyst Ambassador.

Originally from South Africa, Andrew Rice has been involved with the game of golf for more than 35 years. Andrew will share his experience with teaching with TrackMan and Swing Catalyst to help his students improve.Guru and Brandon Roby

What Will Be Covered

This will be an interactive day of mentoring, sharing and improving you’re teaching skills. Here are topics that will be discussed:

  • The 5 Mastermind Skills that every teacher should know – The CGA Framework
  • The art of moving and manipulation the student to create pattern changes
  • How to use technology such as Trackman, Swing Catalyst and SAMPuttLab to speed up the learning processcropped-trackman.jpg
  • Understanding Ground Forces and how to teach it to your studenturl
  • Teaching Putting at the Next Level – Learn the 5 Most Important Aspects of Putting  and how to teach them
  • S.A.M. Putt Lab Data and research will be revealed that will dispel the “most common myth in putting”will collins acceleration profiles
  • How to use social media to drive business, create brand awareness and improve your teaching skills
  • An Introduction to AimPoint Green Reading and the most common myths that you must know as an instructorcropped-cropped-makeeverythinglogo.jpg
  • How to set up a coaching programs to increase your bottom line and add value to your students

To sign up: Emal Me at

Hope to see you at the 2014 PGA Merchandise Show!


Stop Talking! I’m Trying To Learn

One of my favorite things to do in this business is to help young teachers perfect their craft. At the Carmel Golf Academy part of my training regimen is to observe my teachers and to video tape their lessons and watch them back with them. This is not an exercise to put them down or make them feel bad but to give them constructive criticism to help them improve. One of the biggest things that I had to learn as a new teacher was not to try to tell the student everything that I knew, which at the time wasn’t much! This is something that I preach to my staff constantly is knowing what to say, the language you use to say it and making sure you are 100% engaging the student and allowing  them give you feedback. Most teachers talk to much in order to boost their ego and show the student that they know stuff which is not productive and definitely not a great way to gain the trust of the student. To gain the trust of the student you must LISTEN to them, carefully describe what you want them to learn and be open to positive or negative feedback in order to tailor the learning to the student. Results have to be a mutual decision or you may believe that they got better but if they don’t believe it then you’ve lost them. Check you EGO at the door coaches. So this article has nothing about the who has the best philosophy, or the certifications that you have acquired or who can read the trackman numbers the fastest…..This is about how do you deliver the most understandable message with the least amount of babble to get the quickest results from the lesson. That to me is what the great teachers do for the students I am sure you will agree from your lesson experience.

I was teaching a beginning women’s clinic the other day and invited one of my teachers to assist me. After the clinic was over, I asked him to evaluate me. He said,”I am always amazed about how little you give them but always make them improve and excited.” He said that before he thought he was cheating the student if he didn’t tell them or work on more stuff. I can see his point but the goal of the lesson is to improve and not to overload them with information. They will ask enough questions to keep you busy and even then you have to keep from self overload.

I googled “Teachers talking too much” and this is what I found: a part of the article –

It gets better–research has shown that students taught by active learning, on average, score a grade and a half higher than those who learn in traditional (boring) ways.

But, most teachers do not do use active learning.  Why?  I wish I knew.

Perhaps it is as Geoff Petty said so eloquently in his short explanation on active learning(doc file):

  • We tend to teach the way we were taught ourselves, rather than in the way that works best.
  • We know too much, and rather enjoy explaining.  

Interesting… as this pertains to the classroom teachers but how can we apply this to teaching golf.

So we start with understanding how people learn the fastest. 1)Doing – feel 2)seeing – visual 3)hearing – auditory

So if the this is the priority of how people learn, why do we do #3 the most? hmmm. Because it is easy to tell someone but maybe more difficult to give them the other two which are more important. So here are some ideas on how to “Talk Less and Guide Learning Faster”  and students pay attention because your coach needs you to give great feedback as well.

1. Interview well – Ask open-ended questions and be observant. I have a big list of questions that I ask a student in the interview but the big 3 are as follows 1)What is your main goal and what does it look like (specific) What is your big ball flight miss (shot that they can’t survive) and 3) What are you trying to do” (their model)  close 4th is physical limitations of course. As they answer your questions (don’t interrupt or try to help them) observe where their eyes go and how they stand. kinesthetic players look down and visual players look up. Auditory players may go all over the place. Are they favoring one side and what are they wearing? (more on that later)  This observation continues throughout the lesson as you explain, model or manipulate….notice where they are looking and continue to ask questions. Do they close their eyes or keep them open as you move them?

2) Watch Your Language – Every lesson is a presentation. After I video tape their motion and we are going through the swing, CHOOSE your language carefully and MEET them where they are. By now you should know the students background, who they have had lessons from (which is why you should study all methods), occupation and sports history so this should help you in explaining what exactly what you want them to see. (key) Don’t point out every fault or strange movement in their motion but only the things that you want them to see and that you want to focus on in that lesson. Especially people who this is their first time that they have seen their swing, it can be overwhelming so be careful. Depending on their lesson experience and background you will know the words you can use or can’t use. The average golfer isn’t going to know what the 3rd accumulator, p4 or spin loft means so you are constantly checking for understanding. “Do you understand what this plane line is for?” Use language that they can relate to without the ums, uhs and kind of’s so it is clear and concise. I highly recommend that you listen to your video analysis emails that you send to your students for evaluation to help you improve your presentation.  So meet them where they are.

3) Learn To Model and Manipulate Properly – Once I have explained what we are going to work on, I either Model (visual) or Manipulate (kinesthetic). Neither of these exercises require a ton of verbage which is nice. In my opinion, manipulating or moving a student into the correct positions is a lost art. If you are standing behind the trackman or the video and telling the player to move a certain way and getting in there and moving the student around then you are doing them a disservice. I teach this to my staff. Where to stand and proper hand placement. When to exaggerate and when to be perfect.  It is hard to explain without video or actually doing it but there is what I call shaft control and body control and they must be done correctly or the student will get poor feedback. Doing this in a mirror helps as well.  I also recommend (PNF)  which is moving the student in opposite direction of the error and having them to resist. This gives them the feedback that they need to move in a positive direction which ingrains the change much quicker. Moving them allows for the student to give you feedback on how it feels to them and that is invaluable. I don’t care what they say or how they explain it, that is the language that I use in the lesson because that it how they relate to it which is most important. (Less Talking More Listening)….starting to make sense. Modeling is simply demonstrating by hitting a shot or doing it slowly (my recommendation). Can be helpful for the student to see it in action.

I know this is more for the coaches but it is important for students to give great feedback and let your coach know what you want, how you learn the best and when you don’t understand something. A great teacher can use all that information by explaining it a different way so that you can understand it. Because you, the student are the most important part of this equation and if you feel you are getting left out you need to speak up.

Coaches: make it a point to tape yourself giving some lessons this off-season and make it a learning tool because I will be doing the same in order to improve. If we don’t get better, the game doesn’t grow.

Thanks for reading and feel free to share with your friends by using one of the buttons below

  • To improve your word usage, sign up for twitter and try to explain something in 140 characters or less. ….. Choose your words wisely 🙂



#Mentor: A Twitter Question : Advice For New Coaches



1.a wise and trusted counselor or teacher. influential senior sponsor or supporter
I spoke to the large group of insurance business people the other day on the  topic of  personal development. My speech closed with a quote from one of my favorite people, Mr. Zig Ziglar.It states “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want. Today, I was talking to a hungry, young driven golf professional that was seeking my advice on how to become a great teacher. First off I was flattered, second of all I was mindful to give him advice that I wish I would have gotten when I was new in the business. Gathering and sharing information and experience is something that i have enjoyed doing when I felt like I had something to offer someone who could improve their knowledge or outlook on the coaching business.  So before I tell you what I told the young man, I posed this question on twitter. The pool of outstanding coaches that I have on my twitter feed is something that I can’t put a price on and will never take for granted. Tonight I was the student and they were the mentors and just set back let the magic of social media run its course. My friends did not disappoint as they never do. The question was,” In 140 characters or less, what advise would you give a young coach?”  So here is a culmination of the answers that they came up with. So new coaches, take note and pay attention: I will use their twitter handles so you can follow.
JohnGrahamGolfJohn Graham
@golfgurutv I would tell them to get on twitter. Follow everyone you know and start a new topic conversation everyday by @ing #mentor
AMGolfMindCoachAndy Morrison
@golfgurutv ‘Be ready to meet the PERSON in front of you at their model of the world and shape your knowledge so it fits for them’ #mentor 
ParkytheProMartin Park
@Sara_PGA @golfgurutv “Those of us who dare to teach must never cease to learn”…there you go – less than 140! #JustforSara 
IanPeekGolfIan Peek
@golfgurutv understand impact,gather info from as many varied coaches as possible,test what youve heard,always ask customer what he wants

Sara_PGASara Dickson, PGA
@JohnGrahamGolf @golfgurutv #truth Twitter & it’s links to other resources has been the most help by far
benclaytongolf1ben clayton

@golfgurutv: Coaches. If you had to give a new, young teacher on piece of advice, what would it be. Learn not from a book #mentor
DonalScottDonal Scott
@golfgurutv #mentor I’m still young;) so I can only speak from my experience so far. Lust for new info & be genuinely interested in people!!
alasdairwattalasdair watt

@golfgurutv Read everything,watch everything,Watch @ range @PGA events. Visit the best instructors. Then formulate what is best. #mentor
IanPeekGolfIan Peek

@golfgurutv #mentor part II ;look at the traits of successful people,gather info from the coaching world o/side golf,write down what u learn
BrentDavisGolfBrent Davis

@golfgurutv watch, study, read about & talk to as many different coaches as possible. Take what works and develop your own ideas #mentor
rcampbellgolfRobert Campbell

@golfgurutv Go see as many top teachers as u can, take lesson or observe them teaching for a day. #mentor 
TimCookeGolfTim Cooke

@golfgurutv read, watch, find people to teach! Must help people to develop coaching skill (not just talk about it!) #mentor
dancarrahergolfDaniel Carraher
@golfgurutv keep asking why #mentor
CMcCormickGolfCameron McCormick
@golfgurutv great question. Aspiring coaches must pursue knowledge outside of conventional sources/subjects. Gr8 coaching requires cont…
CMcCormickGolfCameron McCormick
@golfgurutv …knowledge in all facets that influence performance. Seek knowledge to differentiate from the masses. #mentor
jgpaUSAA. S. Graham III
@golfgurutv My advice: Don’t latch onto others 2 reach your goals. It’s not who U know, its the hard work U do that creates success
In my opinion, the great coaches always have a student mentality and are willing to share with others their experiences and knowledge because they understand the big picture. The problem with the golf business is that we don’t want to share best practices because we are afraid or insecure in our future. We think that if we assist others that they will take our piece of the pie. Let me give you a secret, the pie is very big and we havent even bitten off a nibble. There are so many golfers who are afraid of taking lessons because of all of the bad golf lesson experiences that continue to be given  because of coaches who aren’t prepared to guide the student in the right direction. IT IS NOT THEIR FAULT. It is us, the ones who are the caretakers of the game who need to make it our mission to reach out and share in order to improve the over all quality of the golf instruction business. Okay, Okay, I will get off of my soapbox and get to what my advice was to a young up and coming coach. It has all been said but this is what i think:
1. Find an experienced coach to guide you in the right direction (mentor)
2. Learn why the ball does what it does (D Plane)
3. develop your people skills first and then learn to teach. I see so many that have the info but cant communicate it to the average golfer
4. develop a servant attitude toward your students and learn to build relationships
5. If your student doesn’t get better, it should bother you. Figure it out! Ask for help and don’t be too proud
6.Teach as much as you can (even if it for free) to sharpen your eye. Nothing can replace experience on the lesson tee.
7. Learn all the different theories, your research and develop your way
8. Get around as many great teachers as possible and don’t be afraid to ask why?
9. get out of the box and learn from coaches in other sports and how they apply to golf
10. Stay humble and stay Nervous!
BTW: Twitter was on fire today. If you are not using twitter, then what are you waiting for…..the info is there!
Please share with any of the buttons at the bottom and your comments are always welcome!
See you on the lesson tee at Carmel,

Michael Breed Teaching Presentation – Carolinas PGA Teaching Summit Review

Michael Breed "The Fix"

Recently I attended our Carolinas section Teaching Summit at Myrtle Beach. Our feature spreaker was Michael Breed. You might have seen him of the Golf Channels “golf fix”. You know….”The let’s do this” guy. I was interested to see him because you never know how people are in real life as opposed to a television show. I have to tell you that I was presently surprised at some of the things that he shared in his talk. I am always resectful to the guys that are up on stage because I would love to be that guy someday sharing information to other professionals and giving back to the section. So as long as I am in the audience, I try to approach with an opn mind for learning. There are different ways that teachers can do a presentation (teaching theory or motivational). Michael was definitley leaning towards the motivational side of things. So here is how it went.

He opened up his talk by showing a video of himself with people that he had met through his career in golf while he blasted a country song called “I’m a lucky man” which I thought was interesting. He started out with a quote by Chuck Swindoll that states:

      “The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, the education, the money, than circumstances, than failure, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company… a church… a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past… we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. And so it is with you… we are in charge of our Attitudes.” – Chuck Swindoll

  • Be thankful when a student comes out for a lesson because”they chose you” and we shouldn’t take that for granted.
  • Big on technology and the use of video. He thinks that the future lies in phone applications. He is creating some of his own
  • He said he tries to communicate to his students and on the tv show on a “3rd grade level”. Made me think of a statement that I heard Martin Hall make which is : Understand it like Homer (Kelly) but communicate it like Harvey (Penick).
  • Book Recommendations : The Talent Code (which I have read which made me feel good) and several books from John Maxwell (which is one of my favorite authors as well)
  • He said “If you credit other people for your information, you appear smarter. Great point as information is passed down from coach to coach, be sure to tell them where you got it.
  • He said that he a socratic teacher. So I looked up the definition and this is what I found:

Be a Socratic Teacher: definition of “the Socratic Method of Teaching : His most important contribution to Western thought is his dialogical method of enquiry, known as the Socratic method or method of elenchos, which he largely applied to the examination of key moral concepts and was first described by Plato in the Socratic Dialogues. For this, Socrates is customarily regarded as the father and fountainhead for ethics or moral philosophy, and of philosophy in general.

The Socratic method is a negative method of hypotheses elimination, in that better hypotheses are found by steadily identifying and eliminating those which lead to contradictions. The method of Socrates is a search for the underlying hypotheses, assumptions, or axioms, which may unconsciously shape one’s opinion, and to make them the subject of scrutiny, to determine their consistency with other beliefs. The basic form is a series of questions formulated as tests of logic and fact intended to help a person or group discover their beliefs about some topic, exploring the definitions or logoi (singular logos), seeking to characterise the general characteristics shared by various particular instances. To the extent to which this method is designed to bring out definitions implicit in the interlocutors’ beliefs, or to help them further their understanding, it was called the method of maieutics. Aristotle attributed to Socrates the discovery of the method of definition and induction, which he regarded as the essence of the scientific method. Oddly, however, Aristotle also claimed that this method is not suitable for ethics.

A skillful teacher can actually teach students to think for themselves using this method. This is the only classic method of teaching that is known to create genuinely autonomous thinkers. There are some crucial principles to this form of teaching:

  The teacher and student must agree on the topic of instruction.

  The student must agree to attempt to answer questions from the teacher.

  The teacher and student must be willing to accept any correctly-reasoned answer. That is, the reasoning process must be considered more important than facts.

  The teacher’s questions must expose errors in the students’ reasoning or beliefs. That is, the teacher must reason more quickly and correctly than the student, and discover errors in the students’ reasoning, and then formulate a question which the students cannot answer except by a correct reasoning process. To perform this service, the teacher must be very quick-thinking about the classic errors in reasoning.

  If the teacher makes an error of logic or fact, it is acceptable for a student to correct the teacher.

****I think all great teachers are a form of this. Ask better questions and get better answers.

He then talked about the importance of playing lessons and helping golfers get from the range to the golf course. Here are some mental ideas that might help coaches and players alike:

1. The Law of possibility – He makes the student aware of all of the possible outcomes of each shot and then gets them to focus on the desirable one. ex. it could go left , it could go right but it could also fly at the target

2. If Don’t / Then Don’t – very simple strategy that I teach as well. If you find yourself thinking ” don’t do something”, then don’t hit the shot. start your routine over.

3. What you tell yourself doesn’t have to be true, As long as you believe it. (anyone think of Seinfeld here?). ex. I am the greatest athlete in the world.

4. Try to put the student in pressure situations: ex. crowded first tee or the last hole of a good round. Then you have a chance to help them

5. Watch your language: Do not say if, only say when!

I didn’t realize that his teaching specialty was putting. He considers himself a putting teacher and the tour players that he has worked with come to him for putting info. Likes the old school putting books by Horton Smith (which I own and highly recommend), Willy Park, Bobby Lock. Horton Smith was the first one to discuss hooding or delofting the putter. We know this as a forward press. Michael did a series of tests with different lofted putters and measured the distance. The less loft, the greater the distance the ball rolled because of the contact point on the ball. The more forward the shaft leans, the higher the contact point and better the roll. He recommends 3 degrees of forward shaft lean at impact. He likes the shoulders slightly open to help see the line and the eyes just inside the ball. He doesn’t believe in an arc or plane in putting either. So to conclude, he shared his story of how he got to be where he was.

The Whole Story

15 years ago he visited the local newspaper and they let him start to write some golf tips. He then visited a local radio show and offered to do some radio and they gave him a show. In the process he talked a local TV station into letting him do a golf tip on the news. He realized that he was pretty good on tv and he put together a pilot video for show. He submitted it to the Golf Channel 8 years ago and they said no. A few years passed and the Golf Channel gets bought out and wants to create new programming. They find his tape and say, this is our guy. They want to do the show on Tuesdays but he couldn’t do it because he had to do his job at the club. His owners were looking to cut his budget by 25%. He goes to the owners and says, I will cut my salary 25% if you will give me Tuesdays off. They thought he was the greatest. The rest is history. So if you think that he is an overnight success, you are wrong. He just got after it and made things happen. That is what I admire about him the most. Thats why he is up on stage and I was in the audience. I enjoyed the presentation and I hope you enjoy this recap.

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See you on the lesson tee. Please call 704-542-7635 to schedule a lesson,


Playful Learning Part 2 – Teaching vs. Coaching

In the midst of another P.G.A. Merchandise show, I think for those who don’t participate just don’t know what they are missing. I enjoy seeing the new products and gadgets but that is not why I attend. I make the trip to Orlando to network with other professionals and friends in hopes to find a few nuggets or ideas that will help me guide my students when I get back. My students can’t wait for me to get back because I always have some great information and stories to tell that will enhance their golf games. Information is not just going to jump in your lap. It is not going to knock you down and crawl all over you. You must be a seeker and sometimes it takes courage to learn something new because we are all afraid of being wrong. For all you zen lovers, “You must be an empty cup”. I have attended the top 100 Golf Magazine party with my boss for the last 7 years and I always set a goal to meet a new teacher that I admire and be prepared to ask an intelligent question when you get that opportunity, because it could be a small window. This takes courage (and maybe a few glasses of wine,shh!). Your networking moment may happen when you least expect it. Here is a story: Last year an editor friend of mine asked if I would stop by the Cricket of Arms” pub for a pint because he wanted me to meet his good friend, Craig Shankland. For those of you who don’t know Craig, he is a legend in the teaching and playing game. Top 50 teacher and just a great guy.  In the first five minutes he could tell how passionate about coaching that I was and he was gracious enough to share valuable information about his teaching and great stories about his good friend, Moe Norman which was priceless. We talked for about 2 hours over a few pints of Guiness and it  was awesome. I shared with him my goals and this was the two pieces of advice that I received:

1) Keep writing as much as possible because that is what keeps your ideas fresh and your brain thinking and growing.

2)Pay attention: MAKE YOUR PLAYERS MULTI-DIMENTIONAL (He is very old school and teaches many LPGA players). He said that you have to be able to adjust to every lie and can’t fall in love with just one swing plane. He doesn’t use video very much and takes his students out on the course for the majority of the lessons to greater prepare for all of the different shots that make up a round of golf.  (The Ultimate In Coaching)

The time I spent with Mr. Shankland was the highlight of my trip for sure so keep your eyes open for opportunities for learning and growing. I will be forever greatful for the time that he spent with a nobody teacher like me. I hope that someday I can be that person sharing all that I have learned to a young, hungry professional.

To succeed as coaches we must be versitile and know when to teach and when to coach.

Here are some quotes from Tiger Woods. Maybe he needs to reread these to get back to the days when he was free to self-discover.

“My lie dictates the shot I will play”

“I always listen to my body”

“Some days when I warm up I am hitting the ball low, other days I am hitting the ball high. some days the ball is drawing, other days it is fading. i just play what i am doing that day”

“Today when I practice I like to play games-in fact I like to practice more than play on the course. I still try lots of different things, just like I did with my Pop”

“We always practiced together seeing who could make the most 5 foot putts”

“As a child the club and the ball became my playmate”

“Ultimately golf is a journey-full of learning and discovery”

“On normal shots, I swing 75% of my power, on longer shots I swing at 90%. If I go all out, I do not make solid contact-which is most important.”

“There are no shortcuts- golf requires patience and perseverance, with a yearning for learning. Accepting the fact that it is a game of ups and downs and learning every time you play”

“when I play-it is almost as if I get out-of-the-way and just let it happen. I let it happen, I do not make it happen.”

“I won 12 times in the year 2000, including 3 majors and I only remember hitting one shot I would call perfect. It was the 3 wood on #14 in the third round of the British Open at St. Andrews. AS with every shot I attempt, I visualize that ball flight and the shot turned ou exactly s I had planned. Moments like that stay fresh in my mind, providing a positive image for future reference.”

“I will always be respectful and gracious to opponents-but I want to win, to beat you by a lot, to beat you bad.

I look forward to hearing about your P.G.A. Show learning moments. What are you waiting for……GO FOR IT!

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See you on the lesson tee,



What is your teaching philosophy? What do you consider a successful golf lesson? How do you know if the student gets it? These are all questions that should keep coaches up at night, I know it does me at times. How do we improve our teaching process in order to help the student learn more efficiently. One of my mentors, Martin Hall, told me once,”If the student gets better, good teacher, if they get worse, bad teacher,”. I believe this is true as there are many ways to reach a goal.  I am sure if we put all the top coaches in a room together and gave them the same student, we would surely get a myriad of answers, fixes and directions in which we would take them. We all have our opinions that we stand behind (methods/non-methods) but how do we really know. On my continued quest to become the best coach that I can be,  I am going to do a series of posts that hopefully will be thought-provoking and cause you to consider your philosophy (RIGHT OR WRONG) and how to improve it. The key to learning is to have an open mind and be ready for new information. So here we go! In the age of technology with (trackman, k-vest, video analysis and 3 d simulators) and updated information about ball flight laws (the d-plane, cp release vs. cf release, angular momentum and hsp vs. vsp, stack and tilt, morad, one plane, two plane etc ) and new equipment and training aids, we have more information as coaches that can help the student through the learning process than ever before. The ability to apply the information that you have learned or memorized is the key. Because without positive results, what good is the information. It just makes us feel smart or educated. The key is not to leave out the most important factor, “The Student”. I teaching has always been built around a student centered approach, whatever you teach this is the most important.  I am reading an interesting book written by Michael Hebron, whom I greatly admire, called “Play Golf To Learn Golf”. There is so much information that he has researched that it would be impossible to share all of it so I want to give you a few nuggets that will describe his philosophy on what he calls “Playful Learning.”

Whatever I know, or what I am given credit for knowing is not very much when compared to what could be known (I am going to put this on my bulletin board for sure). To keep investigating, looking for “the yet uncovered,” to help people grasp unfamiliar concepts so they can make progress, is my philosophy.

Mr. Hebron states:

  • Whenever you try to help a golf swing you can win or lose-but when you help a golfer you always win. Help golfers become less dependent on their coach.
  • The student and their needs are always more important than what the instructor wants. The aim of effective instruction is to be a practical guide. (sound familiar)
  • Any approach to instruction must take the “nurture of learning” into consideration, if it is going to be effective.
  • Mankind is born playful, and when we play  to learn, we don’t learn to play (hmmmm.?)
  • Workable instruction does not try to change poor habits, it changes poor insights, and develops patterns or access to knowledge
  • Many golfers see their poor habits as “riddles” that can’t be solved and often look to someone else for answers that only they themselves can answer and solve. Progress in golf is founded on the problem on the problem solving skills of the student (see options)
  • Teaching is really the art of assisting discovery
  • A “breakthrough” in learning is a breakout, or breakaway from a past point of view, opening new learning paths.
  • Most golf advice and swing models are based on someone’s description of body parts in motion, overlooking the alignment and application of force with the club through impact. The ball flight laws should be exchanged for the golf club laws.

Are the wheels turning yet, let’s see if this helps. Here are some random thoughts on “Playful Learning”

  • Trying to teach is different form helping someone to learn
  • Learning is influenced by change and unfortunately many individuals believe making changes requires trying to “get something right”, or trying to fix something. Studies show that fixing has never been learning, and trying to “get it right” creates the kind of stress that fragments progress.  (my next topic of video pro models “helpful or not”)
  • Efficient approaches to learning ask students what they would like to improve.
  • Efficient approaches to learning improve a students capacity to learn.
  • Students want to learn. Judge them and students will not make the kind of progress they are capable of.
  • Pointing out mistakes is a poor motivator
  • One last one: “It is the student who often reveal the best way to help them experience the kind of learning that lasts.

The main thing that Mr. Hebron is trying to convey is:

Ask the right questions, Listen to the student and always keep the student involved in the learning process and we can all say that we gave it our best effort as coaches. Be careful of the language that we use, the pictures that we create and the expectations that we put on our students. I have plenty more to discuss but I will let you all digest this and talk amonst yourselves. Remember, they don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Keep caring and we will all figure this thing out together.

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See you on the lesson tee,


Sticks and Stones Will Break Your Bones But Misconceptions Will Kill Your Game: What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You

I was giving a lesson the other day to a first time student and in the process of watching him warm-up, the commentary began at a fever pitch. He would top one or hit it thin…..”Oh, I lifted my head.” He would hit a slice to the right……”Oh, I need to tuck my right arm on my backswing.” Over the years I have learned not to respond right away to these outlandish ideas or misconceptions. It is easy to jump right in and tell the student,”You are wrong or give them the correct answer contradicting everything that they thought they should be doing in their golf swing, but that for one doesn’t make the student feel very good about being with me and too it is just not the time. Golfers typically start golf without much knowledge and direction (with the exception of their buddies or husbands). Let’s face it, there are far more teachers out there than players, which leads us to our problem, MISCONCEPTIONITIS…….defined as – human beings ingesting false information from other humans that have done the same thing. Golf has to be the leading sport of bad information that is passed down through the years…….starting in the late 1800’s. I am a firm believer that it was definitely a teaching pro that coined the phrase “KEEP YOUR HEAD DOWN”, There isn’t another 4 words that have made me more money over the years, that is for sure. Thank you Henry Cotton. So here is my list of common misconceptions that we need to address in the upcoming Guru TV Shows that may be holding you back . If any of these are your swing thoughts, please call 1-800-GURU…….Quickly. So here we go……..

1. Keep your head down – The head must be allowed to move somewhat during the swing. A steady head might be more appropriate. The amateur eyes might see the head raise up but remember it is attached to the body. Maintain a consistent spine angle and let your head follow your ball flight to create freedom in your follow through. Otherwise you will be looking at the ground and still killing worms.

2. Tuck your rear elbow on your backswing – This one started with someone watching Hogan swing. Even he had some space under his right arm in the backswing. Tell Fred Couples, Jack Nicklaus, Angel Cabrera or our recent PGA Tour winner, Carl Pettersen to tuck their right elbow and you will ruin their career. Width in the swing is created with a wide right arm in the takeaway. Save the tucking for the downswing when the swing gets narrow.

3.  Keep your left arm straight – Tension is the one of the most damaging things to a good golf swing and trying to lock your lead arm can cause this very quickly. Comfortably extended is better terminology. Keep it extended but soft. A little bend will not kill you. Once again, width is created by the right arm. If you are collapsing, try pushing out slightly with the rear arm and you will thank me later.

This is enough for you to chew on for the time being. There are so many more that I will discuss and probably do a show about in the near future. My advice to you is to make sure that when you get a tip that it 1) makes sense in a sound golf philosophy and 2) applies to your error tendencies. An educated student should know what these are. If you don’t, please see a reputable teacher/coach that can help you organize and understand your errors and put together a plan to fix them. Until then….. Don’t Forget To Breathe (the best place is when you get ready to take it away)

See you on the lesson tee,


Hank Haney and My New Favorite Training Aid

Hank Haney

I went to the Carolinas P.G.A. show this past Monday and Tuesday to attend our annual meeting and to see Hank Haney speak at our section teaching summit. I thought it was great to hear from one of our premier instructors who teaches the best player on the planet (Tiger Woods) and the worst (Charles Barkley). This post is as much for the teachers (if any teachers read this I am flattered) as for the players. I think understanding what makes a great teacher can help you in your search for a teacher to work with. If your teacher or coach doesn’t have these qualities or isn’t working to improve, find another teacher! This post is also for the student that hasn’t worked with me and wants to get some insight on what to expect. Here are some hightlights from Hank Haney  ; Continue reading “Hank Haney and My New Favorite Training Aid”

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