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Taking Lessons and Not Improving?


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My friend had been going for lessons for several years to a franchised golf instruction operation. He took a few of us there a few years ago to play a virtual round on their really cool simulator and invited me another time to watch one of his lessons. He really seemed to like the lessons. I think he took them roughly once per week for several years.

 

We were talking the other day while we were both at the driving range practicing our short game. I asked if he was still taking lessons at the franchise place and he surprised me when he told me he stopped going there over a year ago. He said," I went to that instructor regularly for three years and I realized I'm not getting any better. I practice what I've been taught and my handicap hasn't changed the entire time I've taken these lessons." I got the impression he was happy with the instructor, I know he practiced what he was taught.

 

That really got me thinking. How many people have the same experience? I'm not sure it's lack of effort or commitment, at least it wasn't in my friend's case.  How common is this? What portion of the Golfwrx community have this same experience? What can we change to address this?

 

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Posted (edited)

People don't get better because they don't know how to make change. Change is hard and takes time. Change requires structured practice time at the range, videoing your swing, hitting terrible shots, hitting more terrible shots, getting worse before getting better, staying the course when you want to break your clubs, etc. For most it's easier to just enjoy golf as you are than fight through this again and again. 

 

The other possibility is the instructor isn't good or doesn't get through to the student. 

 

I'd bet it's more likely the former than the latter. 

Edited by dvq9654
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Posted (edited)

Low score is more than just a great swing.

Proper risk management or making the proper decisions is just as important.  And following through with your decisions and not changing your mind mid-swing.

 

But yes, while spending a month in a rehab ward I saw that many people don't practice enough.

I got plenty of attention from the therapists because I worked hard.  The physical therapist and occupational therapists decided to work together just for me.  

I managed to go through everything the in their repertoire of rehab exercises!

Early on I calculated how many laps around the ward it took to travel a mile, and then did a mile every day in my wheelchair.

One of the nurses managed to get me a lightweight wheelchair, instead of the heavy steel ones patients normally received.

Edited by ShortGolfer
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Posted (edited)
48 minutes ago, Itsjustagame said:

How much golf did he play?

Lessons alone won't make you score better.

 

Great question! He plays 4 times in an average week and gets out to practice about 3 times per week for an hour or two per session. He plays plenty, has lots of problems ballstriking and due to his practice and the frequency he plays, his short game is really good.

Edited by leekgolf
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54 minutes ago, dvq9654 said:

People don't get better because they don't know how to make change. Change is hard and takes time. Change requires structured practice time at the range, videoing your swing, hitting terrible shots, hitting more terrible shots, getting worse before getting better, staying the course when you want to break your clubs, etc. For most it's easier to just enjoy golf as you are than fight through this again and again. 

 

The other possibility is the instructor isn't good or doesn't get through to the student. 

 

I'd bet it's more likely the former than the latter. 

I agree change is really hard. To add to that there is a lot of conflicting information on how to change out there. I've recently read a lot about differential practice, which is kind of mixing doing something correctly and mixing in doing the move you want to eliminate.  There is a lot out there on external focus. Lots of new ideas. I'm not sure very many instructors teach how to make changes. Often they just tell they just want to student to make. Another friend recently told me her instructor told he she moves her upper body too much. She says she asked what to do and was told stop moving your upper body during the swing. In her case, she changed teachers over that. The new instructor told her to make swings with her feet together. That's block practice. I wouldn't even know how to work on this using external focus or differential practice.

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My brother paid lots of money for various well respected instructors some in person and some online with no real improvement before finally finding Bradley Hughes, and the results have been better than would be expected for a golfer who learned how to play after 50. He now uses players irons.

 

Macgregor M38 - Big Bertha 4, 7w - Titleist DCI 990B 5i-PW, DCI 962 4i, LW  - 8802

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A simple rule- if you are not improving with your current instructor than change your instructor , no matter what other people think.

Online instruction presents another layer of problems, not necessarily because the suggestions presented by the instructor are bad , but because it is more likely that the student will misinterpret any changes without in person feedback. 

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Well you need the right instructor that will work with what you bring to the table.  Here is an old stat:

 

It takes 100,000 CORRECT movements to ingrain a new muscle memory...  This is why change is hard in all sports.

 

Plus the practice should be getting done in small drills for a couple hours a day to really ingrain the movements...

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9 hours ago, golfarb1 said:

A simple rule- if you are not improving with your current instructor than change your instructor , no matter what other people think.

Online instruction presents another layer of problems, not necessarily because the suggestions presented by the instructor are bad , but because it is more likely that the student will misinterpret any changes without in person feedback. 

Is it usually the instructor or is it usually the student or both? Anecdotally, I may work very hard on what my instructor asked me to do in a lesson. Then something happens, I see a post by a well respected instructor on something and I think, "That makes sense, I'm going to try that!" Maybe I shouldn't be working on that for various reasons, the most likely one is my instructor saw a number of things that need to be addressed and they may actually fix a number of other things. Could moving to something else could ensure I never fix the biggest problem and never actually improve?
,

8 hours ago, Par Be A Joke said:

Well you need the right instructor that will work with what you bring to the table.  Here is an old stat:

 

It takes 100,000 CORRECT movements to ingrain a new muscle memory...  This is why change is hard in all sports.

 

Plus the practice should be getting done in small drills for a couple hours a day to really ingrain the movements...

What about all the research that says block practice, doing the same thing over and over is actually ineffective?

Research illuminates the benefits of random practice over blocked practice in motor learning

https://us.humankinetics.com/blogs/excerpt/research-illuminates-the-benefits-of-random-practice-over-blocked-practice-in-motor-learning

 

Effect of Blocked Versus Random Practice on Physical Therapy Students' Manual Force Modulation

 

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30185111/

 

Block Vs Random Practice

 

 

 

https://www.adamyounggolf.com/block-vs-random-practice/

 

 

7 hours ago, Soloman1 said:

Some people will never be good golfers. Why do they think that they should be?

 

Do they think that if they take up the guitar they're going to be as good as Eric Clapton?

But can't anyone improve and work to be as good as they can be? Can't all of us continually improve? Even as we get older, can't we learn a more efficient swing? It may not go as far, but it still a way to play better. Can't we develop a better short game? Consistently work to be a better putter? 

 

As an old guitarist, I can play pretty much anything Eric Clapton or Jimi Hendrix has played and have done most of them at gigs. What I can't do is write the music, I can't come up with the solos or even harder the little fills and changes unless I hear Clapton or Hendrix do them first. I'm like a tape recorder, I can't originate the music. Given time and desire almost anyone can play a guitar at a pretty high level. It may take years, but it's achievable.

 

We aren't trying to originate golf, we're just trying to improve our techniques.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, mikpga said:

Ignoring aspects of scoring…

 

many golfers simply get enamored with the idea “if I strike the ball better” golf will become easier…

 

have to learn how to score when you don’t strike the ball well…

 

 

 

Kind of funny but generally when you aren't striking the ball very well your short game shows up and when you are hitting it well the short game goes out the window. 

 

Most people also get worse after a lesson because they are trying a new move that will throw off other parts of your swing, this is especially true for online lessons. 

Edited by Redjeep83
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57 minutes ago, juststeve said:

First, lessons don't make golfers better.  It's the hard work after the lesson learning to do what the teacher told you to do that makes you better.  Also although there is a place for lessons it's the time you spend playing that contributes most to improving your scoring.

Steve

My friend works hard on what he's taught. He does it consistently too. His handicap is lower than his game looks because he scrambles well and has a good short game.  I see him hit horrible shots regularly (tops, snap hooks, pushes) that put him in a bad place and still make par. He's not long either.  

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10 hours ago, leekgolf said:

Is it usually the instructor or is it usually the student or both? Anecdotally, I may work very hard on what my instructor asked me to do in a lesson. Then something happens, I see a post by a well respected instructor on something and I think, "That makes sense, I'm going to try that!" Maybe I shouldn't be working on that for various reasons, the most likely one is my instructor saw a number of things that need to be addressed and they may actually fix a number of other things. Could moving to something else could ensure I never fix the biggest problem and never actually improve?
,

What about all the research that says block practice, doing the same thing over and over is actually ineffective?

Research illuminates the benefits of random practice over blocked practice in motor learning

https://us.humankinetics.com/blogs/excerpt/research-illuminates-the-benefits-of-random-practice-over-blocked-practice-in-motor-learning

 

Effect of Blocked Versus Random Practice on Physical Therapy Students' Manual Force Modulation

 

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30185111/

 

Block Vs Random Practice

 

 

 

https://www.adamyounggolf.com/block-vs-random-practice/

 

 

But can't anyone improve and work to be as good as they can be? Can't all of us continually improve? Even as we get older, can't we learn a more efficient swing? It may not go as far, but it still a way to play better. Can't we develop a better short game? Consistently work to be a better putter? 

 

As an old guitarist, I can play pretty much anything Eric Clapton or Jimi Hendrix has played and have done most of them at gigs. What I can't do is write the music, I can't come up with the solos or even harder the little fills and changes unless I hear Clapton or Hendrix do them first. I'm like a tape recorder, I can't originate the music. Given time and desire almost anyone can play a guitar at a pretty high level. It may take years, but it's achievable.

 

We aren't trying to originate golf, we're just trying to improve our techniques.

Well, name any topic you want and I can find you opposing points of view....  So one report doesn't convince me.  I spent 15 years teaching skiing in the evenings, became an examiner for certifications in my division.  So, what I believe and what you believe can be different.

 

No worries or debate needed. 

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Posted (edited)
On 7/1/2021 at 4:18 PM, dvq9654 said:

People don't get better because they don't know how to make change. Change is hard and takes time. Change requires structured practice time at the range, videoing your swing, hitting terrible shots, hitting more terrible shots, getting worse before getting better, staying the course when you want to break your clubs, etc. For most it's easier to just enjoy golf as you are than fight through this again and again. 

 

The other possibility is the instructor isn't good or doesn't get through to the student. 

 

I'd bet it's more likely the former than the latter. 

 

23 hours ago, ShortGolfer said:

Low score is more than just a great swing.

Proper risk management or making the proper decisions is just as important.  And following through with your decisions and not changing your mind mid-swing.


Agreed with both of these for sure. 

I also believe that in general, most teachers aren't particularly good at actually teaching. Like the epidemic of bad managers in the corporate world, knowing something and being able to impart that knowledge on to other people are two different skills. IMO most people need to know "why" in order to stick to something, because otherwise they are just going through a disconnected set of motions without real intent.

Many people aren't that great at learning either, and that gets back to the skill of teaching in that you need to be able to bridge any gaps between your ability to educate and their ability to learn. I've worked pretty hard at that as I made a big step forward in my game back in 2011 with formal instruction, but I tended to wander a lot because I didn't understand how these things connected to the whole picture. I knew my forearms rolled over too much in the backswing and my clubface got too open, but I didn't understand why that was actually a problem. Too many teachers have you focus on one thing without understanding how it connects to everythings else, so fast forward 10 years and the next two big steps I took had very little to do with physical practice and far more to do with understanding why things are the way they are in the golf swing. NOW I feel like I need to get with a good instructor again so I can actually participate in diagnosing as opposed to just being talked at. I think THAT is the effort that needs to be done on the part of the student in these instances if real, permanent change is to actually be made, and I think that is more than most people are willing to do. 

Edited by Valtiel
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2 hours ago, Par Be A Joke said:

Well, name any topic you want and I can find you opposing points of view....  So one report doesn't convince me.  I spent 15 years teaching skiing in the evenings, became an examiner for certifications in my division.  So, what I believe and what you believe can be different.

 

No worries or debate needed. 

Skiing? Where?

 

PS there were three sources not one.

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  • 2 weeks later...

 

 

On 7/2/2021 at 7:58 PM, Valtiel said:

I knew my forearms rolled over too much in the backswing and my clubface got too open, but I didn't understand why that was actually a problem. Too many teachers have you focus on one thing without understanding how it connects to everythings else, so fast forward 10 years and the next two big steps I took had very little to do with physical practice and far more to do with understanding why things are the way they are in the golf swing.

EXACTLY THIS! 

 

There is what happens in the lessons...Then there is how you practice the "lesson"...

 

I took a series of lessons from a highly respected instructor and was told to practice a drill in an exaggerated way  to correct an issue.  I exaggerated and practiced a lot.  Turns out...I REALLY exaggerated.  

 

That series of lessons derailed me for 9 months.   I kept getting worse and kept telling the instructor I was getting worse, but thought it was the kind of thing where I needed to get worse to get better. In reality, I just got worse.  

 

The advice the instructor gave me was not wrong,  I didn't have the context or enough understanding of my swing at the time to understand d the larger effect on other aspects of the golf swing and how to incorporate those changes correctly into my practice.  

 

My two cents here is that it's important to ask questions about the why and understand how you learn.  I've observed lots of instructors think students like to hear smaller amounts of easily digestible information, so they tend to tell you to do one basic thing in the hope that these five other things will happen as result.  

 

Also important to think about how you learn.  I switched instructors to someone that was more focused on body movements vs. club positions and immediately got better.  That was just how I learned.    

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On 7/1/2021 at 3:34 PM, leekgolf said:

 

I'm not sure it's lack of effort or commitment, at least it wasn't in my friend's case.  How common is this? 

 

 

Are you certain your friend made a truly committed effort ?

Golf learning, practicing is time consuming. If your friend was not putting in 4 or 5 hours per week either at the range, putting green, or at home in his backyard making swings, there is a good chance he will not achieve improvement. Playing a golf course is separate and not part of the 4 to 5 hours per week of learning-practice time.  

 

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  • If instructors fixed you immediately you wouldn't come back for more lessons.  They need to support their families.
  • Most players don't have the basics down to improve, need to be able to hit 1/4 shots extremely well before moving on.  I mean so damn well it's second nature
  • Some people don't have very good coordination, no matter how hard you try you have a limit.  Previous sports played, mom and dad etc...   You are who you are.  

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On 7/2/2021 at 12:05 AM, Soloman1 said:

Some people will never be good golfers. Why do they think that they should be?

 

Do they think that if they take up the guitar they're going to be as good as Eric Clapton?

 

IMO there are two reasons for this.  First and foremost is genetics.  Sorry folks it's a fact.  Second is a permutation of practice and prior sports played as a child.  This is going to sound ridiculous but when I practice I work on my release, taking 1/4 swing for over half the bucket.  It's weird but it helps me time my release.  I rarely take full swings and TBH I rarely practice but when I do it's that.  It helps me.  

 

I played tennis at a very high level years ago and I practiced daily for YEARS.  I finally hit a ceiling in college, I just couldn't compete.  I could serve it as hard as the guys I could hit forehand winners and do everything else but my consistency and mental ability wasn't there.  

 

It's genetic in other words lol.  

Edited by Paddy_2_Iron
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In the bag

 

10.5 degree Ping Max 400 | Stiff Ping Shaft 55 gram

23 degree 2020 Callaway Super Hybrid | Mitsubishi Tensei CK PRO Orange 80 HYB Graphite

6 - GW F7 Cobra variable some Accra shafts and some KBS (All Steel)

Mizuno 56 MPT Rusty Black

Mizuno 60 S 18 Ion Blue

Wilson Buckingham 

 

Ball TPS5X TM

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On 7/2/2021 at 9:00 AM, mikpga said:

Ignoring aspects of scoring…

 

many golfers simply get enamored with the idea “if I strike the ball better” golf will become easier…

 

have to learn how to score when you don’t strike the ball well…

 

 

 

This is fact.  I play with a guy who has an abbreviated swing but he can manage the courses like no bodies business and can score.  He doesn't give up and make stupid mental errors.  Might hit 6 greens in reg but will bump and run a 5 iron next to the hole makes big putts.  He'll tie guys or even beat them with the country club swing.  

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In the bag

 

10.5 degree Ping Max 400 | Stiff Ping Shaft 55 gram

23 degree 2020 Callaway Super Hybrid | Mitsubishi Tensei CK PRO Orange 80 HYB Graphite

6 - GW F7 Cobra variable some Accra shafts and some KBS (All Steel)

Mizuno 56 MPT Rusty Black

Mizuno 60 S 18 Ion Blue

Wilson Buckingham 

 

Ball TPS5X TM

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On 7/1/2021 at 3:56 PM, jordan2240 said:

  So I think the best instructors would look at your natural swing, then start making some small adjustments from there.  

The best instructors teach address fundamentals (grip-posture-alignment). From there a player's naturally effective swing will emerge.

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1 minute ago, Fairway14 said:

The best instructors teach address fundamentals (grip-posture-alignment). From there a player's naturally effective swing will emerge.

 

It's all you can really teach the student, especially older ones.   I still think genetics plays a huge role in this.  I play with some former college and hockey players and these guys have insane club face control.  

Edited by Paddy_2_Iron

In the bag

 

10.5 degree Ping Max 400 | Stiff Ping Shaft 55 gram

23 degree 2020 Callaway Super Hybrid | Mitsubishi Tensei CK PRO Orange 80 HYB Graphite

6 - GW F7 Cobra variable some Accra shafts and some KBS (All Steel)

Mizuno 56 MPT Rusty Black

Mizuno 60 S 18 Ion Blue

Wilson Buckingham 

 

Ball TPS5X TM

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