When I started golfing over 50 years ago, I thought everybody just bought clubs and went out and played golf. Back then, nobody suggested I should take lessons first. I just went out there, and played.
I could always hit the ball a long way (albeit not always on the fairway!) and, looking back over the years, I am really surprised that the Pros or Assistant Pros at the golf courses I played at never came up and suggested to me they could help me better my game if I just took some lessons. I know now they could have made a huge difference in my game if I’d just learned the proper setup from the get-go!
It’s a funny thing with golf. You see how others swing both on the course and on the driving range, you watch the professional golfers on TV, and you try to imitate their swings. Seems to me that you end up making one of your own that in your mind looks like the ones that you admire, but if you’d ever looked into a mirror, you’d soon realize it is not. Of course, back in the days, we didn’t have iPads or Smartphones to film our swings and make comparisons to how other people’s swings are and how our’s should be. I must have played with my self-developed bad habits for at least five years before I finally took lessons, and what a difference they made!
As for scoring expectations, I figured anything under 100 and over 90 was probably great and I shouldn’t expect much better than that, since that’s how I and the people I played with normally scored in a round of golf. It wasn’t till Wade Hudyma, a golf Pro at the Wascana Country Club, saw me on the range one day who told me that by way I could hit the ball, I should be scoring in the 80’s. I was rather surprised. I ended up taking a series of lessons from him and he became my go-to Pro until he got a job in another city. As for scoring in the 80’s, it turns out he was right.
Just because he moved on didn’t mean I stopped with lessons. I kept on taking golf lessons from other Pros. Scott Knapp helped me many times over the years in Regina. Lessons are very helpful in the spring after the five months layoff with the winter months. They can help you remember what it really should feel like and sound like when you are striking the ball.
Lessons are really important AT ANY AGE. And just because you’re older doesn’t mean it’s too late for you. YOU CAN IMPROVE WITH AGE Take a good look at yourself. Why do you golf? Do you golf just because you like the fresh air and the company of friends? Come on! Who are you kidding anyway? Why would you spend $$ or $$$ for a round of golf and barely break 100,110 or 120 when you could spend that money for a lesson or two that MAY have you shaving 10 or more strokes off your score right away?
Maybe it is as simple as your grip – maybe that’s what needs realignment, maybe it is your balance, maybe it is your swing. But whatever reason it is that needs help, your Pro can help you.
A couple of days ago. I was paired with a man who I’d say was somewhere in his 60’s and not playing very well. But I was! I shot 82, which was one of my best rounds of the season. He complimented me on my straight, long drives – his were errant slices for the most part – and said he wished he could hit like I do.
I told him that he could; that you’re never too old to start taking lessons and I recommended he find a pro and take some lessons. It’s quite easy to find one near you – you can even track them down through your local branch of the PGA.
And you might not just need an adjustment when you’re golfing at your home club, or in your home city, either. Although public courses quite often offer a series of lessons for one set price and I’ve taken them up on their offers, I’ve had lessons when I’ve been on a road trip, too. Every once in a while, you find someone who makes learning fun and has great chemistry, like I had with Adam Long, the Director of Golf at The Wilderness Club in Eureka, Montana. In a quick tune-up, Adam had me remembering how to turn correctly once again and I found that the shortness I’d been experiencing with my irons isn’t down to age or the clubs, as it turns out, but the turn!
With all you need to learn, to play well, YOU REALLY NEED TO TAKE LESSONS to start with! None of this going out to golf with someone (a relative or friend) and asking them to teach you! Chances are they don’t know more than you — unless they are a Golf Professional.
And don’t stop taking lessons. Keep going back every year (or more often) – for at least a check-up like I do. Are you in a rut? Are you continually doing something that annoys you, like a slice or a hook — — or just being inconsistent?
Stop the suffering now. Go and see a Pro.