The average golf score in the United States is still 100 and has been for over 50 years, despite better equipment, improved technologies, and course conditions. Touring pros continue to improve. Seemingly every week is a new tournament scoring record, despite courses getting longer and tougher. So why doesn’t the average golfer improve?
Two major problems exist, and when combined, set the perfect “stymie,” preventing game improvement. Sadly, it’s hurting the game and is responsible for why four million golfers quit every year and why 10 million want-to-be golfers lie waiting, wondering how to learn. The Five Golf Powers, which form the World Golf Federation, have done little to address this problem.
Style-based instruction is the predominant form of golf instruction and continues to confuse golfers. This epidemic has stifled game improvement and established a landscape of frustrated golfers. The search for the perfect style of swing and the desire to create certain “good looking” or “preferred styled” positions has led to countless books, videos, and teachers who taught their “ideal” style of swing. “Stack and Tilt,” “Single Plane Swing.” “Natural Golf Swing,” “The A-Swing,” “The X-Factor Swing,” “The Morad Project,” “The One or Two Plane Swing,” “The Gravity Golf Swing,” and the list of style-based teaching methods go on and on… Meanwhile, the best golfers in the world don’t subscribe to any of these swings.
Television adds to the confusion. An analyst may express his or her opinion about the best grip, setup, backswing, plane, downswing, follow-through, etc. One teacher says to do one thing, and the other contradicts it. Confusion abounds everywhere.
One day while on air at the Golf Channel, I had just finished discussing how to hit a bunker shot by keeping the same swing, just changing the set-up; when another instructor, with little playing credentials, followed me and shared with the viewers an entirely different swing that included throwing away clubhead lag and flipping at the bottom of the swing to hit a bunker shot. The poor viewer who watched that day and who couldn’t interpolate which way was better. How many viewers were confused? My goal is to eliminate the confusion, not be part of it. So, I refused to join the Golf Channel on TV in that capacity anymore.
Today’s average golfer gets much of their information online, surfing the internet and watching YouTube videos while being bombarded with countless emails produced by golf instructors who deliver “swing tips” to promote their business. Contradictory views confuse undereducated golfers searching for clues to playing better golf. Desperate, they head to the driving range, ready to apply whatever they just read, but it rarely helps and never lasts.
Since I left the PGA Tour and PGA Tour Champions in 2014, I’ve gotten a rare insider’s look at the green grass golf business. I’ve witnessed a second problem that contributes to golfers not improving. A war has developed between golf club staff and professional golf instructors, who dedicate their careers to just teaching golf. Head and assistant professionals, who are underpaid, make much-needed additional income through golf instruction. The additional supplemental income is vital to their survival. They are not trained to teach golf per se, most learn to instruct through shadowing another club professional, or they read books, watch some videos, and learn much as the average golfer does. I was shocked to hear that the PGA does not train golf professionals to become teachers or directors of instruction, though they have just begun offering golf instruction as a track in the PGM College programs. Initially, when this track system began three years ago, the PGA estimated that only 20 percent would choose golf instruction. They were shocked to discover that 50 percent chose the track for golf instruction in their first year. It makes sense to me; golf instruction pays better, has more flexible hours, and, if you’re good at it, brings a smile to people’s faces.
Club staff professionals find it hard to compete with a competent golf instructor who has dedicated their livelihood to instruction. It’s a separate profession that requires a separate set of skills and specific training. It’s not easy to be a good golf instructor. Many full-time professional golf instructors have difficulty finding a job because staff professionals feel they will lose their business. Staff professionals often make their feelings known to management and owners and declare the club “their territory” for golf instruction. They often give the ultimatum and threaten to leave if management hires a professional golf instructor. With so few young people filling the needed gap of golf professionals, the staff usually gets their way. What is left at the club then are under-trained staff professionals teaching golf for the money and ill-equipped to give quality lessons.
No wonder recent statistics show that 70 percent of golfers who take lessons don’t improve. Additionally, 38 percent of private golf club members in the United States want a game improvement program, but their club doesn’t provide a satisfactory solution. One of America’s largest golf management companies; just discovered that clubs with a high-end golf instruction program reduce member attrition rates by 75 percent a year. The Proponent Group, the leading organization for professional golf instructors, reveals that the value of good golf instruction is much larger than most club owners and managers think. In fact, for every dollar an instruction program earns, the club benefits $1.75. Additionally, the lesson takers spend 78 percent more money at the club than non-lesson takers.
Management, to appease the staff’s request to earn an extra $20,000, costs the average club over $1 million per year, though they don’t yet realize the cost. The sadder picture is that most clubs generate less than $50,000 in golf instruction when a $1 million yearly program is available. The market is large; the eager golfers are plentiful, and golfers are starving for good instruction. History suggests that ownership and management don’t value good golf instruction. That’s why it’s unheard of to track instructors’ key performance indicators. But once ownership discovers this, they will emphasize member services and develop good golf instruction programs.
The answer to both problems
Style-based instruction is opinion-based, a failed attempt to find a perfect swing that doesn’t exist. Everyone is different, built differently, coordinated differently, skilled differently, with different natural propensities and learned behavior. Attempting to put them all in a box has proven disastrous.
Arnold Palmer once said, “Swing your own swing; I sure did!” Arnold had it right; style is individual, just like one’s signature, though I admire Arnold’s signature the most. But that’s my opinion. I have his signature on a picture of us hanging in my studio after our last round of golf together. The common denominator of all the best players in the world is impact. It’s the only thing that matters in the swing. Find your way to get there and make it consistent. That’s the name of the game. That’s why I developed “Impact-Based Teaching,” Learning to work from impact, backward, rather than swing-style, forward, is the key to quicker learning, improved instruction, happier golfers, and more golfers getting and staying in the game. Impact-based instruction is the vaccine to the “style-based” teaching methodologies epidemic.
The answer to the second problem is training staff professionals in Impact-Based Teaching and teaching them how to build their business. Track KPIs, improve their closing of new student assessments, and increase their retention, referral, and closing rates. Staff professionals can be successful in instruction once they are trained. It’s not their fault! The fields are ripe, and the harvest is plentiful for good golf instruction.
Good golf instruction is needed and can make a tremendous difference in the game, bringing more golfers, filling up club memberships, driving revenue, supporting junior golf, and more. It’s time we band together for the good of golf. Improve golf instruction and make it available.
Rectifying toe shots is a simple as straightening your trail arm in the forward swing. To start, set your club aside and take a few arm swings while focusing on stretching your trail arm out as far away from your body in the downswing as possible.How do I stop hitting my golf club toe? ›
Rectifying toe shots is a simple as straightening your trail arm in the forward swing. To start, set your club aside and take a few arm swings while focusing on stretching your trail arm out as far away from your body in the downswing as possible.Why am I hitting the ball off the toe? ›
The first possible issue that you can find at impact which can lead to toe hits is an early release of the club by your hands and forearms. Ideally, your hands will be the last thing to release through the ball after your body is done rotating out of the way toward the target.Does hitting off the toe cause a hook? ›
Hitting off the toe of the club will cause the spin access to turn left, and it can cause more of a right-to-left ball flight. I would not expect this to cause a hook all on its own simply because most golf clubs are relatively stable at impact, and that will help reduce some of this side spin.Why do I keep stubbing my toe? ›
To avoid this type of injury, you should wear shoes. Walking or running barefoot (or in flip-flops) increases the chance of a stubbed toe. Wear closed-toed shoes that provide adequate protection if you happen to bang your toe against something. Even when you're in a hurry, try to be careful.Why does banging your toe hurt so much? ›
This is because there are many nerves in the toe, including two nerves on either side. There is little fat to cushion the toes, which can intensify the pain and increase the risk of injuries such as bone bruises and fractures.Can lie angle cause toe hits? ›
The wrong lie angle will cause golfers to hit the ball more towards the heel or the toe of the club. The average lie angle is set at standard but using a lie board can help a golfer determine the correct lie angle.Why do I hit my wedges on the toe? ›
The lie angle (the angle at which the sole of the club rests on the ground) was too flat, a characteristic that causes the club's toe to dig into the ground at impact. When the toe digs down, the club's heel comes up, and, as a result, shots are hit off the toe.Can a strong grip cause toe strikes? ›
Note: A lot of toe hooks are hit with a really strong grip, which causes the left wrist to cup, the club to get too vertical, or the face to close very early, which makes the toe dominant coming through — a hook. Hit balls on a side hill with the ball well above your feet to help flatten your arc.What does it mean when you hit your toe? ›
A stubbed toe is simply a toe that's been badly slammed, and may show signs of swelling or bruising, but there is no serious injury under the surface. However, a broken toe is a more severe injury with harsher symptoms and greater consequences: prolonged pain, stiffness, infection, and deformity.
Consistent muscle twitching that results in toe curling or clenching is called dystonia. Neuropathy happens when nerves are damaged. This can be caused by injury, overexertion of foot muscles, or conditions that can cause toxic substances to build up, such as diabetes or kidney disease.What causes hammered toes? ›
The most common cause of hammer toe is wearing short, narrow shoes that are too tight. The toe is forced into a bent position. Muscles and tendons in the toe tighten and become shorter.