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Instructor vs. Coach


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24 minutes ago, Goober said:

According to the Illinois golf association. Averaging 4-5 rounds a year is avid. Which I concur is more than efficient for getting ones game in good standings.

Not sure about online forum golf (which appears to be all fields of beautiful roses). But in real life.. lessons really haven’t helped many amateurs besides the basics of the game. Proper grip , alignment , and a posture that allows one to make contact with the ball. These videos that I watch from top instructors are extremely futile. Who has the time or effort for practicing hours upon hours fixing swing faults that may have been ingrained for decades. The dedication I’m sure is there. But come on now folks … it’s really ludicrous. Whatever happened to swing your swing ? I think knowing the ball flight laws and a basic under of physics is all ones need. And ball flight laws has been around since the invention of this game. Boy some of you are lost : and not sounding harsh. But wake up 

Glad that I don’t live in Illinois. 🙂

 

In all seriousness if you are content with your game, great. But recognize that others aren’t, they wish to do better or even for them the pursuit of being better  misguided or not, is what’s fun.

You are very unlikely to change anyone’s mind by launching attacks.

And I happen to agree about the you tube video stuff - the guy doesn’t know my physical capabilities or swing type - following his advice may cause more harm than good.  But that’s me, some swear by that style of learning - good for them. 

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53 minutes ago, Goober said:

According to the Illinois golf association. Averaging 4-5 rounds a year is avid. Which I concur is more than efficient for getting ones game in good standings.

Not sure about online forum golf (which appears to be all fields of beautiful roses). But in real life.. lessons really haven’t helped many amateurs besides the basics of the game. Proper grip , alignment , and a posture that allows one to make contact with the ball. These videos that I watch from top instructors are extremely futile. Who has the time or effort for practicing hours upon hours fixing swing faults that may have been ingrained for decades. The dedication I’m sure is there. But come on now folks … it’s really ludicrous. Whatever happened to swing your swing ? I think knowing the ball flight laws and a basic under of physics is all ones need. And ball flight laws has been around since the invention of this game. Boy some of you are lost : and not sounding harsh. But wake up 

There a lot of golfers across golf forums,  Facebook groups and other social media platforms including myself that will disagree that lessons haven’t helped anyone and definitely disagree they haven’t significantly helped anyone.

I went from a 20+ handicap to a single digit handicap in about 2 years from lessons and they were far more than the basics of grip, alignment and posture. 

Those who want to get better will make the time to spend hours practicing and getting lessons which is no different than anyone trying to get better at anything. I played golf, practiced golf, workers 8-10 hours days, hit the gym and played baseball 2x/week. I know several others who had similar lifestyles 

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3 minutes ago, Riverboat said:

I'm not attacking, arguing, or trolling, just sharing a few thoughts. If you worked as hard as you say you did for those 2 years, my guess is you would have improved rather drastically with the instruction you received, with instruction on just the basics, and even with no instruction at all. I don't know what the state of your game was when you started this process, whether you were a beginner, an occasional golfer, or someone who had worked that hard for years with no instruction and no improvement. Only in the last case could we reasonably assume that the instruction made the difference. 

I am certainly not anti- instruction, as I coached golf for 25 years. But I do believe, based on all those years, and on my observation of friends and acquaintances, that over- instruction is just as common (maybe more so) as too little instruction (to say nothing of bad instruction, which is remarkably common). I find that most players get bogged down in detail when taken much beyond the basics. Believe me, I have seen many naturally talented players destroyed by trying to be technically perfect. Any of you remember Bobby Clampett?

Now there are exceptions to this, as there are with everything. I'm sure there are players out there who respond well to constant tinkering, but the extended droughts of naturally beautiful players like Rory McIlroy and Ricky Fowler are I think examples of what I'm talking about. The results can be even more profound with amateurs who don't have the natural physical ability to at least keep their game in reasonably good shape. All I'm saying is caution is in order when taking a deep dive into instruction, and most of us reach a point where no amount of instruction will keep us improving. If this weren't the case, there would be far more plus handicaps on the links. 

So wouldn’t that point to the need for more coaches?  People who are able to say, “Heres how you take what you have and shoot the best scores possible?” 
 

That seems to be the question the OP was getting at. 

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17 minutes ago, Riverboat said:

If you worked as hard as you say you did for those 2 years, my guess is you would have improved rather drastically with the instruction you received, with instruction on just the basics, and even with no instruction at all. I don't know what the state of your game was when you started this process, whether you were a beginner, an occasional golfer, or someone who had worked that hard for years with no instruction and no improvement. Only in the last case could we reasonably assume that the instruction made the difference. 

I played frequently for years but was just one more activity I did with coworkers along with the various military sports leagues I played in throughout the year. My swing was self taught and my baseball skills let me him the ball decently. I decided to take lessons to improve my game and my swing. 
 

My lessons were far more coaching than pure instruction. I was also learning about the swing so that I could self diagnose and correct during a round.

17 minutes ago, Riverboat said:

I am certainly not anti- instruction, as I coached golf for 25 years.

 

no offense but coaching high school golf IMO is a lot different than giving lessons on a daily basis for a living. I had and have seen numerous high school coaches in various sports that knew less about the game they coached than they student athlete. Or that the basics is all the really know and can’t dive into actually coaching and improving an athlete. Not saying thats you but what I’ve seen in high school coaching during my school years and in some of what I’ve seen throughout the years including with some of the younger athletes I’ve played sports with over the last 30 years.

17 minutes ago, Riverboat said:

I find that most players get bogged down in detail when taken much beyond the basics. Believe me, I have seen many naturally talented players destroyed by trying to be technically perfect. Any of you remember Bobby Clampett?

Now there are exceptions to this, as there are with everything. I'm sure there are players out there who respond well to constant tinkering, but the extended droughts of naturally beautiful players like Rory McIlroy and Ricky Fowler are I think examples of what I'm talking about. The results can be even more profound with amateurs who don't have the natural physical ability to at least keep their game in reasonably good shape.

This is more on the instructor than the student, but some blame on the student for not communicating with the instructor. A good instructor is going to understand how and to what a student responds to, what gets them stuck and how to get out of it. It’s also an area I think has improved in instruction over the last 5-7 years where instructors are developing their skills and understanding that each lesson doesn’t have to be tinkering and trying new stuff but continuing to work on a move/feel/drill to help the student reinforce the aspect they are trying to improve but also many are getting away from doing full on swing work during the lesson and having the student out the swing work to the test under pressure by hitting golf shots. That could be using the various tools on launch monitors like trackman academy or some of the practice tools or using the range to hit to targets or working on ball flight up and down or playing fades and draws. 
 

But what you’ve at is why the thread was started and what the video is about 

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17 minutes ago, Riverboat said:

Maybe I just assume that adults should be able to figure that out for themselves. Probably a silly assumption. 

Players should be able to figure out effective strategy by themselves?     The process of learning isn't something that is always done independently from other people.  PGA professionals constantly work on how improving their strategy and leverage coaches to help them.   Yes,  you can figure out how to play,  but how do you know it is the best/right way?  How long will it take you to build that knowledge?

 

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This is probably a separate thread but I am truly curious what constitutes "the basics" when it comes to a golf lesson. 

Is it keep your eye on the ball or is it keep your weight inside your trail foot or is it shaft lean & hit down on the ball with your irons (and even fairway woods depending on your lie) and have a positive angle of attack on the driver or does it include teaching somebody to properly set their wrists or is it teaching somebody how to read the grain on the green or is it turn don't sway or weight transfer or teaching someone how to bump and run with an 8 iron rather than grabbing for a wedge 100% of the time around the green, or how to play for ball flight tendencies off different slopes, or.......? 

Or do some of these get past "the basics" and into over instruction? 

 

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3 minutes ago, Shapotomous said:

This is probably a separate thread but I am truly curious what constitutes "the basics" when it comes to a golf lesson. 

Is it keep your eye on the ball or is it keep your weight inside your trail foot or is it shaft lean & hit down on the ball with your irons (and even fairway woods depending on your lie) and have a positive angle of attack on the driver or does it include teaching somebody to properly set their wrists or is it teaching somebody how to read the grain on the green or is it turn don't sway or weight transfer or teaching someone how to bump and run with an 8 iron rather than grabbing for a wedge 100% of the time around the green, or how to play for ball flight tendencies off different slopes, or.......? 

Or do some of these get past "the basics" and into over instruction? 

 

The "basics" seem to be grip, posture, and alignment.

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7 minutes ago, cnosil said:

The "basics" seem to be grip, posture, and alignment.

Hogans book covers those items but also gets well beyond them and that was held up as a standard for instruction so I wondered where exactly the "basics" line should be drawn.  I learned a lot by reading the condensed version that was included with the purchase of a dozen Hogan balls back in the 70's.  The image of having your arms wrapped in an ace bandage holding the triangle was the most influential swing thought I ever encountered.  I have the full version on the book my shelf and still re-read sections of it often.  

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9 hours ago, Riverboat said:

Certainly the proper starting point, and for those with decent eye hand coordination and the natural athletic ability to reasonably mimic a golf swing (they are on TV all the time), all some players will really need. Maintaining proper posture throughout the swing will take care of many of the other issues mentioned. Throw in teaching a correct slot at the top and many more are now good to go. We are talking full swing here. Short game requires drills and practice.

How much you need an instructor or coach for all of this will vary from player to player based on how they prefer to learn and natural ability. Maybe I'm just a very independent person, but I always wanted to, as Ben Hogan said, "dig it out of the dirt" for myself as much as possible. Too much/ constant reliance on an instructor or coach to answer every question, in my opinion, severely hampers developing feel and the ability to adapt to unusual and new circumstances. I have a friend who is always asking, "now on that type of shot, are you opening and closing the blade with your hands or just taking it back and through with your shoulders?" and similar things. I don't mind the questions, but my honest answer is usually "I have no idea. I feel the shot and hit it." I'll then rehit it and try to talk him through it, but it would be better for him if he would just figure it out on his own by watching and mimicing... and not overthinking everything all the time... which those who are overtaught seem to do way too often. 

There is always an element of figuring it out yourself,  but by leveraging coaching and/or instruction a player can possibly develop faster.   you even acknowledge in the quoted post that people learn differently and need different things. I am not advocating receiving a lesson every day, as time should be taken to practice independently to figure things out.  We both agree on that.    I also agree with you on answering the questions of your friend; you have ingrained feels through repetition and probably don’t know what you did because it is instinct and you really don’t know because you aren’t an instructor.  But it sounds like he needs and wants instruction;  why not just tell him to go read the Hogan book and use his actual quote that the “secret is in the dirt”. 

you advocate the Hogan book a lot and I have read it.  What I got out of that book was minimal if anything.  We could also go down the road that it teaches a specific swing that may not be beneficial for most golfers.   I could state that just reading a book and tying to learn the swing is what slows golfers down on the golf courses,  it that is an opinion just like you opinion is that people are over taught.  I could easily say your approach is an oversimplification.  We could look beyond golf and look at anything,  people that want to get better will generally get there faster with instruction instead of being self taught.   

There are many ways to learn to play the game and no one way works for everyone.  But let’s go back to the original post.  All you are talking about in this thread is instruction; basically how to swing the club.   Coaching is far more than that as discussed in the video in post 1.  Let’s go back to questions that you never answered and your comments on players that continually get angry on the course.  Where do you learn “how” to play golf and realistic expectations for you shots.  You can learn those things over many years by experimenting and trying different things.  You can listen to the unrealistic information passed along by golf commentators and pros during interviews.  You can do multiple experiments on the course on what works on a particular hole.  Or you can find a coach that can help you better understand strategy on how to play better.

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9 hours ago, Riverboat said:

Greatest golf book ever, IMHO. And yes, he spends over 1/2 the book on grip and posture. Throw in the swing plane images and it's pure gold. I have to admit, however, that when he starts with the minutiae of supination, sequencing, etc, I glossed over and figured that out by doing. Focusing on all those individual moves is where it becomes overinstruction for me. Trying to hit all those positions, all in the proper sequence, is a recipe for developing a swing like Charles Barkley had a few years back. 

Agreed - IMO the Hogan book goes way too far.  That's where live instruction would be necessary if you wanted to advance your game to that sort of level.  Back to a point that you made earlier I noticed that you mentioned you had to teach your players course management while they played for you.  Very few players played in High School - I didn't, I was playing baseball, I had to learn course management from watching and from reading books - during my lifetime theories about course management have significantly changed as well although I'm not convinced that those changes are always applicable for the average player.

 

I don't see it as over kill that a player would seek out a coach to help with managing his game - it's not a longtime relationship, it's a couple of lessons, the first assesses the player's game and the second demonstrates how to take that game to the course.

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Although I didn't play for a high school team--we didn't have one--

I very much did play golf when in high school. Started at thirteen, I believe.

First I was driving range taught by friends and relatives and a driving range pro--you can just imagine--

and then got proper instruction from a Class A PGA pro who was also a pretty successful regionlal competitive player.

But those initial lessons were it.  I never took swing lessons again.  I'd occasionally book a lesson to learn a specific shot.

 

Never, however, did I desire something as personal as a coach.   That would have been a step too far for me.

Perhaps I would have become a better player if I could have handled that kind of relationship,

but it wouldn't have been something that I enjoyed.

 

Same thing goes for launch monitor / simultor club fitting.

The likely rewarding result didn't seem worth enduring the process.

 

 

 

Edited by BostonSal

 

 

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33 minutes ago, BostonSal said:

Never, however, did I desire something as personal as a coach.   That would have been a step too far for me.

Perhaps I would have become a better player if I could have handled that kind of relationship,

but it wouldn't have been something that I enjoyed.

 

Same thing goes for launch monitor / simultor club fitting.

The likely rewarding result didn't seem worth enduring the process.

 

We all seek something different.  You have pursued what you want to achieve your specific goals and are; I assume, happy with where you are with your game.   
 

you are also assuming that a player coach relationship is personal.  It could be more or less personal than an instructor.  I would even say that some of the  information presented by coach can be found in books and is more informative than swing instruction books.  As discussed in the video; which I am assuming you still didn’t watch, and instructor is more about the mechanics and swing feelings and A coach is more about decision making, focus, and thought process.
 

launch monitors are simply a way to gather information.  There are other ways to gather the same information.   Just like instructors and coaches gather and present different information.  
 

the point of the topic was that there is a difference between an instructor and a coach.  Depending on where you are with your game and what you are trying to achieve you may get more benefit from instruction or you may get more benefit from coaching.  

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15 hours ago, Shapotomous said:

This is probably a separate thread but I am truly curious what constitutes "the basics" when it comes to a golf lesson. 

Is it keep your eye on the ball or is it keep your weight inside your trail foot or is it shaft lean & hit down on the ball with your irons (and even fairway woods depending on your lie) and have a positive angle of attack on the driver or does it include teaching somebody to properly set their wrists or is it teaching somebody how to read the grain on the green or is it turn don't sway or weight transfer or teaching someone how to bump and run with an 8 iron rather than grabbing for a wedge 100% of the time around the green, or how to play for ball flight tendencies off different slopes, or.......? 

Or do some of these get past "the basics" and into over instruction? 

 

Go to a range and you will find a lot of people that have good grips, acceptable posture and yet make bad swing and have terrible contact and face control.

Learning how to properly transfer pressure, set the wrists and rotate are IMO al prt of the basics. 
 

Unfortunately people who can’t get into more of the nuances of the swing stick to their guns on certain aspects to support their position

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Man, talk about a thread getting hijacked and pulled off the rails quickly.

Golf is a game that can be enjoyed at many levels and in many different ways.  Some are happy to hit and giggle, some aren't happy unless they're turning over every rock looking for every iota of improvement they can possibly attain, and many are somewhere in between.  Me, I'm certainly the turn over every rock type, but I don't take issue with someone who is not inclined to spend money on lessons, or spend hours doing drills or practicing.  I DO take issue with the condescending suggestion that I'm one of many who are "lost" or foolish to spend my time/energy/funds in the manner I choose to in pursuit of lower scores.

As to the coaching vs instruction discussion, I can safely say I've benefited from both.  I've taken quite a few lessons and can say I'm a much better ball-striker than I was a few years ago, but I needed coaching (in my case DECADE) to learn how to take that ability to the course.  Both have contributed equally to my ability to lower my scores.

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51 minutes ago, Riverboat said:

At any rate, it really seems that some of us are wound just a little too tightly when someone disagrees with their take on things. I'm okay with you and others being all for using instructors and coaches for virtually every aspect of the game, but that doesn't preclude me from being able to state that it may not be the best way to go for most players.

Seems like you think I overanalyze things,  but I don't think you have any idea how much coaching and instruction I have or how much I work on my game independently.   I am pretty sure I have agreed that there are lots of people on the forum that have and do overanalyze.  You are 100% correct in your statements that people need to be able to figure things out for themselves.   I also don't think I am wound too tightly I just try to explain my position and better understand the position of others.  I like to learn and I ask lots of questions and restate things and yes differing ideas and opinions are important.

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FWIW, the Off Course with Claude Harmon podcast interview with Cameron McCormick has plenty of quality content concerning the coaching versus instruction dynamic.  Very informative and entertaining listen.

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  • 2 months later...

Like @revkev I'm older than most posters. I've had lots of instruction and unfortunately very little coaching. 

When I've played my best for extended periods of time, seasons or years, I had the luck to have a good coach.

I also think the PGA teaches pros to be instructors, how to teach the golf swing, how to fix a golf swing. Beyond that, they teach them how to run a business.

I think as a student, getting a coach requires they are available to you, perhaps to go out on the course somewhat regularly. 

I think it's getting easier to coach due to the availability of simulators. 

 

FWIW, my first coach put together a terrific program. I was a beginner with a 36 handicap. He had me take a driving range lesson weekly, he gave me a playing lesson weekly and we would play 18 holes weekly. He even took me to the local PGA pro-ams 3-4 times. When we started, I couldn't break 100. After 6 months of this, I shot 78 in a pro-am and my handicap dropped to 12. Obviously the 78 was an outlier :).

 

The second coach played 18 with me about once a month, gave me playing lessons about every six weeks, and a handful of driving range lessons. This dropped my handicap from 11 to 5 over one season.

Unfortunately, as I got older my game got worse and I am no longer a single digit player.

 

 

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It looks like a good day to play golf!

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