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Getting accused of giving lessons at my local course.....


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The last two weekends, the head pro at a course and driving range I frequent has accused me of giving lessons at the course. I will paint the scenario below, but I am at a loss of what to do, because I have always tried to help players with less skill/experience get better, but I am NOT a golf pro. I am a scratch player (actually, slightly on the plus side) and can give a tip or two sometimes to someone struggling on the range or chipping. Evidently, this course has had issues with people giving lessons on their range, which takes money from them. I knew of a guy who was doing that and they kicked him off the course. So, I get that.

So, last Sunday, I had reshafted an old one iron and wanted to hit it, as well as pay my buddy John for some driving irons that I bought from him (I built them for him originally and they are a poor fit for his swing right now and he didn't like them, so I bought them from him as they do fit me well).  We are taking lessons from the same pro at a different facility and I know what our pro is teaching him. I saw that he wasn't doing what our pro had asked, so I videoed him and was helping him get more on plane. So, the head pro walked over and asked if I was giving a lesson. I told him no and explained the situation. After my buddy left, I went into the pro's office, re-explained everything and told him that I have stopped and helped people from time to time, but I don't charge and I know my limits. I just want people to enjoy the game. When I left his office, I saw another friend and member (semi-private course) named Darren practicing his chipping, so I stopped and chatted with him for probably 15-20 minutes and then I left.

So, I walked in yesterday, and in a cold voice, he asked my name. I gave it to him and then asked why. He again accused me of giving lessons and that I meet the same guys at the range every Sunday at 9 and 11. True, I often meet John up there (guy who is taking lessons from the same pro) and I often give him feedback, as he has a ways to go on swing changes, but we don't meet every Sunday (or Saturday) and we often go up there alone. I guess I was talking to Darren around 11 the week before, so I guess he thought that was my second "student." 

There is a guy named Bill who literally hits two buckets a day and plays there often (retired guy from NY). He hits a wicked hook and overswings. One day a week or so ago, I tried to help him a bit, as I was hoping I could give him some feels that would help him from hitting so many right to left shots. It didn't help, so I told him to go back to what he was doing. I am not a pro and just thought I could give him a few thoughts that could help - oh well. So, I chatted with him while he finished up and then his buddy came over and we all talked. They asked me how I play half and 3/4 wedge shots, so I showed them. It then started pouring so I left.

I helped another guy who beats balls probably 5-6 times a week with his chipping one day and he thanks me profusely for that every time I see him. I saw him a few Friday evenings ago hitting balls after I got done playing, so I walked over to say hello. He was hitting PXG 0211's, and I asked if I could hit them and he let me. Then he was asking me how I hit a draw or a fade (I was struggling to fade those 0211's because of the offset I suppose?), so I showed him what I do. We walked off the range together and to our vehicles and we just chatted. Found out he is a vet and a super nice guy.

I have NEVER asked for money, nor will I. But, if I see someone struggling, and I think I can help, I will ask if I can give them a tip or two. Most people see me up there and know I am skilled, so they let me, but I always ask, because some people are working with a pro and don't need contradiction. Now, I feel like I can't even be helpful, for fear that I will get thrown out for trying to help people.

Has anyone else run into this? How did you handle it? What would you do? My plan is to lay low a few weeks and then just go do my thing and not talk to anyone up there, or if I do, make it brief (this is SO not me, because I met John and Darren on the range and they are both becoming good friends). This is also my favorite course in the area, and don't want to raise a stink. If he tries to throw me off, I will fight it, because I am doing NOTHING wrong. But, I don't even want to go there.  Thoughts?

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Since you asked, I'll offer advice. I never offer advice unless asked... about anything.  

OP, just read what you wrote and ask yourself if you're being realistic and fair to the guy who has had to apparently chase wannabe instructors off his range before:         .

Having been in the golf industry for a long time, I agree with b.helts.  You are giving instruction regardless of your intentions.  It would be one thing if you and a friend were discussing swings and

It's all about perception. If his lesson revenue is going down, and he sees you working on golf stuff with people, then you are an easy target.

 

It's tough, especially if you can help people, but ultimately you are playing at the pro's facility, so even if you aren't accepting money, I could see where he might start to get threatened.

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Sounds like you have a good plan.

Lay off going there, and don't initiate with people who are "struggling."

That has got to be part of the issue with the pro, I would think.

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For all intents and purposes you are giving lessons even if you aren’t getting paid. 
 

I don’t know the answer but I suspect, if you don’t want to get the boot, that you’ll have to quit doing what you’re doing. Something’s gotta give and I doubt it’s going to come from the guy that makes his living there. 

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It's really crappy if you think about it. At the end of the day you're just being a nice guy, which is 100% legal in most states last i checked. You aren't really direct competition with him as you're giving short 1-off guidance on things for the most part. Pros are really giving detailed lessons more than they are giving "tips"

 

We have a guy who does literally the same thing at our range (private club) , he's an older guy who was formerly a very good player and still plays well. He also lives in the area so spends a lot of time at the club and is a total sweetheart. He likes to hang around the range and help people out at times. Our head pro, or assistant pro, couldn't care less about this from what i can tell. He does it while they are giving lessons. I don't think they feel threatened by him, as mentioned above he is giving them a couple of tips whereas a pro is spending an hour with people doing deep dives. 

 

I get that businesses don't like soliciting or encroaching on their turf in a lot of different fields. But man, this seems kinda petty.

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2 minutes ago, MtlJeff said:

It's really crappy if you think about it. At the end of the day you're just being a nice guy, which is 100% legal in most states last i checked. You aren't really direct competition with him as you're giving short 1-off guidance on things for the most part. Pros are really giving detailed lessons more than they are giving "tips"

 

We have a guy who does literally the same thing at our range (private club) , he's an older guy who was formerly a very good player and still plays well. He also lives in the area so spends a lot of time at the club and is a total sweetheart. He likes to hang around the range and help people out at times. Our head pro, or assistant pro, couldn't care less about this from what i can tell. He does it while they are giving lessons. I don't think they feel threatened by him, as mentioned above he is giving them a couple of tips whereas a pro is spending an hour with people doing deep dives. 

 

I get that businesses don't like soliciting or encroaching on their turf in a lot of different fields. But man, this seems kinda petty.

 

That will probably be me. I have helped people fishing on the beach, and in many other areas. My family sometimes gets irritated with me as they know how I am. They know I will help anyone if I think I can.

The sad thing is, I actually took the pro's card when I knew John needed help. John tried to buy my irons off of me at the range that day and I told him I could build him a set, but he wasn't getting mine. LOL. So I built one - the 7 iron. I bring it to him and he shanks the first several and starts hitting lots of shots left (big over the top move), I was literally thinking "you need help, and way beyond new irons or a few tips from me." So, when I took the guy's card and told him a friend needed help, he didn't really seem to care.

The guy we are both working with now - I ran into on the chipping green at another course and I started talking with him and a guy he was working with at the time (a Texas A&M commit), and a guy who works at the course. I figured out who he was and told him about John. He asked some questions, was very eager to earn John's business, gave me a few tips for some things I was working on at the time, and now has TWO happy clients. All he did was show interest and he gave a little of himself first. He didn't have to, but it meant a lot to me. I spent two hours with him this morning and I gave him a 30% tip because he spent extra time with me.

 

I even sent our pro video of both John and I before each of our lessons and gave him my thoughts on what I saw with John and what I thought he needed in equipment. Our pro and I collaborated on the right fit for John's irons and we have since tweaked them. I wanted to see John improve because he was trying hard, but ingraining a really bad move. 

The guy who is accusing me could have had John's business and maybe mine if he had just showed interest. 

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If you hang out in front of HL Block, and help folks with their taxes, you are taking business away from HL Block. That pro makes his living at that course and range, and if you are helping folks, you are taking potential customers from the pro. Your intentions are good, but you are at his placing giving away something for free that he charges for.

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7 minutes ago, caniac6 said:

If you hang out in front of HL Block, and help folks with their taxes, you are taking business away from HL Block. That pro makes his living at that course and range, and if you are helping folks, you are taking potential customers from the pro. Your intentions are good, but you are at his placing giving away something for free that he charges for.

You know what? I am in the consulting business. I have learned how to give just enough away so that people want to pay me for more. I would suggest that for any golf pro. Stop and help a few people for a few minutes every now and again, and I would be willing to bet you would get more lessons booked. 

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Maybe you should ask the golf pro if he wants some help running his business?

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2 minutes ago, Jtgavigan said:

You know what? I am in the consulting business. I have learned how to give just enough away so that people want to pay me for more. I would suggest that for any golf pro. Stop and help a few people for a few minutes every now and again, and I would be willing to bet you would get more lessons booked. 

 

I agree with this. If you are a pro and you can't compete with someone giving away 10-15 minute friendly pointers....you probably are not a good pro. 

 

I have friends that are accountants and others that are financial planners. They are not overly concerned with the guy at the party who wants to tutor you on his investment strategies. 

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5 minutes ago, Jtgavigan said:

You know what? I am in the consulting business. I have learned how to give just enough away so that people want to pay me for more. I would suggest that for any golf pro. Stop and help a few people for a few minutes every now and again, and I would be willing to bet you would get more lessons booked. 

I was just about to post this.  Go out and help some people on the range.  I bet he would get a few bites.  

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It's difficult, the urge to pass on knowledge and the pleasure of watching someone succeed is ingrained into a lot of us. A few things though:

 

- Resident Pros sometimes have a stake in the range and will take a commission for any unattached pro teaching there, which he may think you are.

- Resident Pros often also rely on the range for new clients so he could be thinking you're there stealing his potential marks.

- Resident Pros sometimes suck at teaching and feel threatened by someone who looks like they know what they're doing.

 

You're not doing any harm and the world needs more nice folks however, at the end of the day there isn't an outcome where your argument outweighs the pro's authority at the club (unless you're a board member or something). 

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1 minute ago, MtlJeff said:

 

I agree with this. If you are a pro and you can't compete with someone giving away 10-15 minute friendly pointers....you probably are not a good pro. 

 

I have friends that are accountants and others that are financial planners. They are not overly concerned with the guy at the party who wants to tutor you on his investment strategies. 


Great analogy. There are lots of pretenders that do what I do for a living, and none of them scare me in the least. In fact, they can help. I might not win initially, but they come find me or one of my competitors because of some of the hacks sometimes. They open a door that I couldn't have. 

I also gladly tell people to go seek a pro. I am not one, but if they really want to get better, find someone who does this teaching thing for a living.  

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1 minute ago, Emthree said:

It's difficult, the urge to pass on knowledge and the pleasure of watching someone succeed is ingrained into a lot of us. A few things though:

 

- Resident Pros sometimes have a stake in the range and will take a commission for any unattached pro teaching there, which he may think you are.

- Resident Pros often also rely on the range for new clients so he could be thinking you're there stealing his potential marks.

- Resident Pros sometimes suck at teaching and feel threatened by someone who looks like they know what they're doing.

 

You're not doing any harm and the world needs more nice folks however, at the end of the day there isn't an outcome where your argument outweighs the pro's authority at the club (unless you're a board member or something). 

 

I think that this is excellent and well stated. Thank you.

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I’m sure you’re a super nice guy but this sounds like a “that guy” at the range situation, which often has the complete opposite of the desired effect.

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4 minutes ago, aERonAUtical96 said:

I was just about to post this.  Go out and help some people on the range.  I bet he would get a few bites.  

 

When I was starting out in my business, it was literally the only way to get someone to trust me enough to pay me. I have a customer now that I am doing work for who almost 3 years ago, I gave several hours of advice to over time. He then let me bid a project and ended up giving it to the biggest name in what I do. I lost touch for 2 plus years, but he stayed on my email list.

A few months ago, he emailed me out of the blue because he reread a blog post I had done a while back and told me I could help him. He remembered the free advice I gave him, plus all of the educating I have done with blogs and YouTube videos. He finally came back and it could lead to the largest single engagement we have ever taken on. Even if he had never come back, I still would never regret what I did.

 

Sometimes, when people don't know you, you have to earn their trust before you earn their business. Then, you have to recognize the people that will never pay you and cut them loose.   

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Having been in the golf industry for a long time, I agree with b.helts.  You are giving instruction regardless of your intentions.  It would be one thing if you and a friend were discussing swings and helping each other, but it has progressed to where you are actively going up to people you don't know and giving advice about golf.  This is where you have crossed the line and you a now being viewed in a very poor light by the golf professional.   I would advise you to curb your desire to help people unless you wish to be banned from the place. 

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14 minutes ago, Socrates said:

Having been in the golf industry for a long time, I agree with b.helts.  You are giving instruction regardless of your intentions.  It would be one thing if you and a friend were discussing swings and helping each other, but it has progressed to where you are actively going up to people you don't know and giving advice about golf.  This is where you have crossed the line and you a now being viewed in a very poor light by the golf professional.   I would advise you to curb your desire to help people unless you wish to be banned from the place. 

Fair enough. Good perspective.

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31 minutes ago, MelloYello said:

OP, just read what you wrote and ask yourself if you're being realistic and fair to the guy who has had to apparently chase wannabe instructors off his range before:

 

 

 

 

...evidently, this course has had issues with people giving lessons on their range, which takes money from them. I knew of a guy who was doing that and they kicked him off the course. So, I get that....

...I videoed him and was helping him get more on plane.

 

...I have stopped and helped people from time to time...

 

...I saw another friend..., so I stopped...

...I often meet John up there and I often give him feedback...

 

...I guess I was talking to Darren around 11 the week before...

There is a guy named Bill...I tried to help him a bit...

 

...I was hoping I could give him some feels that would help him...

 

...they asked me how I play half and 3/4 wedge shots, so I showed them....


...I helped another guy who beats balls probably 5-6 times a week with his chipping one day...

 

...I saw him...after I got done playing, so I walked over to say hello.

 

...he was asking me how I hit a draw or a fade...so I showed him what I do.


...But, if I see someone struggling, and I think I can help, I will ask if I can give them a tip or two... 

 

...I always ask...

 

 

 

So if you want my honest opinion I think he's being nice confronting you about your actions first and giving you a chance to curb your behavior before he bans you. 

 

Thanks for taking so much of what I said out of context. So helpful.

I do appreciate your opinion, but just wished some of the context stayed, because it actually matters.

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34 minutes ago, MelloYello said:

OP, just read what you wrote and ask yourself if you're being realistic and fair to the guy who has had to apparently chase wannabe instructors off his range before:

 

 

 

 

...evidently, this course has had issues with people giving lessons on their range, which takes money from them. I knew of a guy who was doing that and they kicked him off the course. So, I get that....

...I videoed him and was helping him get more on plane.

 

...I have stopped and helped people from time to time...

 

...I saw another friend..., so I stopped...

...I often meet John up there and I often give him feedback...

 

...I guess I was talking to Darren around 11 the week before...

There is a guy named Bill...I tried to help him a bit...

 

...I was hoping I could give him some feels that would help him...

 

...they asked me how I play half and 3/4 wedge shots, so I showed them....


...I helped another guy who beats balls probably 5-6 times a week with his chipping one day...

 

...I saw him...after I got done playing, so I walked over to say hello.

 

...he was asking me how I hit a draw or a fade...so I showed him what I do.


...But, if I see someone struggling, and I think I can help, I will ask if I can give them a tip or two... 

 

...I always ask...

 

 

 

So if you want my honest opinion I think he's being nice confronting you about your actions first and giving you a chance to curb your behavior before he bans you. 

 

This is summed up well.  The pro doesn't know you so your intentions are moot in that sense, and by your own admission you are quite literally giving lessons.  The pro has clearly watched you enough, to decipher that its just not a one time thing or between buddies, and you admit that it isnt either.....

 

He could have just told you to not come back, but did you a solid.  Respect his place of biz and stop. 

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Nah, to hell with this. My entire experience practicing golf is getting together with friends and trying to help each other improve. If that's unacceptable at this venue then I'm more than happy to give my business to someone else.

 

It's an absurd request and OP did nothing wrong.

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2 minutes ago, footmashie said:

 

First thought here was Penick would not let Crenshaw watch Kite, or vice versa, for good reason.  To some extent surprised your pro informed you what someone else is working on, but not the end of the world unless it suggests your pro feeds everyone the same taco,  that's no bueno.

 

 

Well, I am also the club builder in this instance. Actually, John has told me way more than Din, so maybe I misconstrued that. 

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