by GGA Master Instructor Clay Farnsworth, PGA

All too often I have students that show up for a lesson. I’d recap what we’d covered from the previous session only to have the student say that they didn’t have time to practice. Most people don’t feel they are practicing unless they are hitting golf balls (and expecting RESULTS). This could not be further from the truth.

I met a student a couple of years ago up in Virginia. Tony S. is a business professional in the Warrenton VA. area. He is left handed and trust me when I say that my studio was not wide enough for him to hit golf shots. He adapted by aiming way to the right and basically hitting the ball with an outside in swing that rivaled no one. A well stuck 7 iron would go about 90 yards.

He “learned” the game by listening to whoever would give him advice. He finally figured out that was just not going to work. Problem was he had a swing. We had to basically tear that apart and start over from scratch.

On page 4 of our GGA golf school manual we outline what a perfect student would look like. There are several things listed there but to me the most important one is for the student to have the “willingness to do whatever is asked by the instructor and to do what it takes to reach your potential”. Tony was that type of guy. With that type of attitude and perseverance his ball striking improved dramatically. He practiced wherever he could. He was working on feeling what his left side would feel like at the top of the back swing. He showed me this one day and I asked him how often that he worked on that. He told me that all the time. “Shadow” swings to feel the position of his hands and arm at the top of his swing then transfer that to his swing with a club to get that feeling engrained. Dan Coyle would call that “Deep Practice”.

I believe that with Tony’s attitude, willingness to learn, and deep practice were some of the keys to his success. While I don’t always thing that handicap is the best indicator of progress, his scores were better and his distance had increased quite a bit. Correcting swing path and being able to compress the ball allowed Tony to now hit his 7 iron consistently 135 yards. That is a huge improvement. Also went from hitting a slice that was basically off the planet to hitting a slight draw with all of his clubs. Every one of us could learn from this example, myself included.