At a recent 3 day school, we had just completed the 1st day of the school, and one our students needed a ride back to his hotel. His scheduled ride hadn’t shown up, so Todd and I offered to give him a ride to his hotel.
During the ride, this student, Glenn, was talking about another school he had attended a couple years back, and what he had to say left me dumbfounded.
You see, Glenn is from Northern California, and he had flown all the way across the country to attend this school in Southern Florida. The school was a multi-day program much like our school, and he had gone to considerable expense and time to attend. Curious about his experience, we asked him what he learned at the school, he stated, “Swing the Club”.
Simultaneously, Todd and I asked, “That’s it? All they told you was to Swing the Club”. He responded that yes, in fact that was all they told him the entire time he was there. He finished the story by saying that he found that experience to be a complete waste of time, travel and money. He had taken time out of his life, flew all the way across the country, to be told to “Swing the Club”. Wow.
After our conversation with Glenn, I began to recall some of the other stories I’ve heard over the years from alumni about their experiences at other schools. And these are big “name” schools, put on by instructors you’ve heard of, and the comments are predominantly along the same lines as Glenn’s were.
These comments from our students leave me wondering about the quality of school instruction available out there for golfers like you and I. While I’m sure there are many very good instructors out there who help as best they can, it certainly seems from my view that there is a lack of quality instructional opportunities in the marketplace.
I know that I’m completely jaded, however, when I step back and look at our school programs over my 9 years with GGA, I’ve seen steady and consistent growth in the number of people attending the schools, as well as a 65-75% return rate. When we ask alumni why they keep coming back, nearly to a person they tell us that they are now ready for the next step, and while they heard the “next step” at their last school, they weren’t quite ready for it at that time, so they continue to come back.
So what is it that sets our schools, which are growing consistently, year after year, apart from other golf schools out there? And how do you judge the quality of a golf school program?
As I step back and try to look at a golf school through your eyes, there a couple main things that come to mind:
- Is there a model to follow?
- Nearly every task we’ve perfected in our lives, we’ve had a model. Whether it’s tying our shoes, shaving our face, or driving a car, somebody in our life ‘modeled’ the way to do it, and we do it that way to this day. I tie my shoes exactly the way my mother taught me to at age 4 some 37 years later.
- Does the theory match the reality?
- Learning any task is more than just a transfer of information, especially when you are talking about a complex task like swinging a golf club. Golf swing theory abounds out there, but is there proof of the theory in reality? The theory of just “Swing the club” may make a great marketing pitch, but what does that mean in the real world? Swing it how?
- Can you get real time feel and feedback?
- While the other 2 points are important, getting real time feel and feedback is key to perfecting a new skill as an adult learner. Our brains think we do one thing, but feedback (like video) often proves otherwise. You must have a way to match what you are supposed to be doing to what you are actually doing, otherwise it’s just exercise.
- What happens after the school?
- So you’ve done the school, now what? Does the program provide you with specific “next steps” to continue what you’ve started? How do you know if you are doing it correctly when there isn’t an instructor there with you?
Obviously I know that our school programs have very specific and clear answers to each of those questions, and from what I’ve learned from golfers like you, is that other golf school programs out there do not have those answers as clearly defined for their students, and I suppose this is why golfers walk away from these programs less than satisfied.
As I conclude, I feel I must make clear that I’m not attempting to bash other school programs out there. There are a lot of very good teachers out there who work very hard for their students, and they should be commended for their hard work. I believe that they simply do not have the tools necessary, like a model to teach to, and without a destination, any trip will wonder aimlessly.