I began to seriously learn about the golf swing, and how to coach/teach the game in 1995 and have never stopped being amazed at how much I DON’T know. While I was actively working in the golf industry, I tried to watch and talk to as many instructors as I could. I learned that there are a gazillion ways to teach and a ginormous amount of “things” that have to occur in a sequence to make the swing effective and efficient. I taught, I discussed, I experimented on myself and with willing students to try drills, motion ideas, thought processes and determining if there were possible physical issues that might be in play.
Please note I did not use the terms “right” or “perfect”. There is no such golf swing. What does exist are similarities at certain points of the swing of “good” players, and that primarily is at impact. But oh, the many weird and wonderful ways to get there! Miller Barber, Lee Trevino, Bubba Watson, Tom Lehman and Ryan Moore (earlier in his career) are just a few players who had/have “interesting” swings. Oh, and almost forgot Jim Furyk. There a just a few Major Championships held by these players….
I know how hard this game is to play well (and hard to teach well), and what I learned most from teachers I like is the element of empathy and understanding towards the student. In a teaching environment, I found there is a connection made with the two parties to bond and move towards the goal of improving. Trust plays a big role, as does respect. Establishing goals and motivations for the student right from the beginning and rolling that map out is so important.
In 2001, I had the opportunity to spend 3 days in Dallas, TX at the Hank Haney Golf Ranch for a teaching seminar. Hank was there, along with his staff and lead us through a great program on how he does things at his teaching facility. Think what you will of Hank, bit I found him to be a very engaging man, full of humor, intelligence, marketing and business savvy and yes, empathy.
And I had the pleasure of having a few one-on-one sessions with him. And actually tried debating him on the virtues of teaching grip and posture as the most important things in the swing….when a student starts. Hank most likely thought I was a young, new-ish teacher who knew a little too much, and he more or less put me in my place by really explaining his philosophy (which differed from mine) in a classy way. I have a ton of respect for him and learned a lot over those 3 days. His books are solid. And he did teach me a few things…
I took a lesson from Jim McLean at Doral CC in Miami, FL. He has a beautiful teaching academy there. I found that lesson to be interesting in the fact that I didn’t learn a great deal about my swing. Both of us seemed to have the same opinion about what issues I was having. We worked on some drills, hit some good shots and he sent me on my way. What I did Lerner is that McLean is a masterful marketer and understands, to this day, how to promote himself and his teaching philosophy. I’ve read his books and find that I tend to agree with a lot he writes about. Definitely a big influence.
I always had fun on my lesson tee, and asked my students to bring their sense of humor and sense of exploration, and an open mind, to the lesson tee. A guy I’ve never met but have a ton of respect for is Martin Hall. You can find Martin all over the Golf Channel, bringing his props and knowledge to the masses. As an instructor, Martin Hall brings a passion and almost child-like glee to his lesson tee, and that’s something I love.
To finish, Bob Rotella has written a batch of books about the mental game. “Golf is not a Game of Perfect” is one I still go back to. He’s worth checking out.
And there you have it. A few of the guys I respect out there in the golf world. On a personal level, Jeff Mowrer (PGA) and Amelia Rorher (LPGA) have had a great influence on my own game. Not only are both wonderful teachers, but true friends.
Play well, be well. And go see your local PGA or LPGA Professional for a lesson. You never know what might happen.