Sometimes I want to hit my head against the wall. I realize that as an instructor I can only have minimal influence and motivation on my students to change. This is a difficult situation as a golf instructor. I see extreme amounts of potential in my students yet they limit themselves. Let me tell you a story of a recent golf school that exemplifies this dilemma.
During school programs, as usual, we review the fundamentals of Moe’s Single Plane swing. This review consists of grip and address – which we find to be a very crucial part of proper swing mechanics – specifically how the hands are placed on the club. How your hands are placed on the club affects wrist movement which dramatically affects the speed of the club. When the hands are misplaced, they do not function correctly causing major mechanical issues, a breakdown of swing mechanics and major losses of speed. As a matter of fact, I consider the hands (the hinging and unhinging) to be THE major source of speed in the swing.
Recently, one of our students was holding the club improperly. To be specific here is what our instruction immediately noticed some problems:
1) His lead thumb was too “short” causing hand hinge problems
2) His tail hand was rotated on top of the grip causing a trail hand / arm rotation
These problems were causing the following:
1) Lack of wrist action – loss of leverage
2) Lack of wrist action – loss of angles of approach into impact
3) Rotation of the club face opening into impact
4) Major losses of speed / unsold shots flying to right
Immediately the instruction staff pointed out his grip problem and, in our hands on approach of teaching, grabbed his hands to move them into the correct position.
Student: “Don’t change my grip. You can teach me whatever you want, but I don’t want to change my grip”
Instructor: “Well, I don’t know how to make you swing better if your hands are on the club incorrectly. I can’t fix your swing if your hands don’t let you wrists and arms move”
Student: “Well, when you move my grip, it feels bad and I hit it worse. So I don’t want to change my grip”.
You might be thinking that this is a rare situation and that students are usually more open to the suggestions of instruction. You might even think “If they paid all that money to go to the school, they should listen to the instruction” but you would be mistaken. This scenario is extremely common. Students often resist the instruction in many forms similar to this – this is what I consider the “Instructors Dilemma”. What i find equally interesting is that kids, new to the game, never resist instruction. They simply “DO” what you ask. Consequently, kids learn skills very rapidly.
So, let me ask you. What should the instructor do in this situation? Should he try to teach the student without making the change? Should he walk away? Should he threaten the student?
There is a well known story about one of the most well known golf instructors – Harvey Penick. Mr. Penick was instructing an influential lawyer. Ten minutes into the lesson, as the lawyer was hitting balls, he turns and finds that Mr. Pennick has left the range. He looks everywhere but can’t find him. He walks into the golf shop where the head pro makes a call and the find that Mr. Pennick left the golf course and went home. When asked why he left, Mr. Pennick answered, “He wouldn’t listen”.