How Not to Struggle at the Game of Golf!

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Golf - Michael Scholz

At every trick shot show that I perform, I pose a tongue-in-cheek question to the onlookers who contribute an hour after their round of golf to watch me having fun with strangely concocted swings and outlandish golf equipment clearly not meant for hitting golf balls.

The question is a simple one and the results are always similar:

“Who has been for a golf lesson?”

Out of the average 100 guests, about 10 people raise their hands!

What’s my point?

Well simple. You are destined to be a terrible golfer!

Ooh…Low blow!

Yup, that’s the truth, you are unlikely to become prolific at this game, based on the outcome of my study!

South Africans typically tend to lean towards the entrepreneurial side of things and this is mainly due to our culture as we would rather get lost for hours driving the streets to find an address than pull over at the local petrol station, lower our pride, and ask for directions.

I see it at most driving ranges too when I make a rare appearance to hit balls in a bid to avoid embarrassment at the few PGA pro-ams that I play from time to time.

I remember a rather senior PGA pro walking up to a fellow who had clearly never played the game before and offering to give him a few complimentary pointers.  He was waved away with the gent saying “I’ve got this”.

So, here it is:

The average golfer in South Africa is around a 17 handicap.

Based on my “trick shot show” survey, an average of 10% of golfers have been for lessons, so mathematics will tell me that 90% of the golfers haven’t been for even one lesson.

That would also mean that 90% of you reading this article fall into that category (assuming that you are a golfer).

So why are you struggling with your game … your 17 handicap would suggest that sub-90 is a good score for you.

Well, I’m going to throw the stone at the hornet’s nest and suggest that if you had been for a few lessons from the outset, you would have been sporting a handicap far better than 17!

Bold statement again, so let me justify.

Golfers love introducing their mates to the game of golf. No harm done here and in fact you deserve a medal. Golf is a great game and should be enjoyed by all of your mates. If they take to it they will enjoy time out on the fairways with you, as well as rejoicing their time spent out on the course with a few well-deserved beverages and some lekker social banter afterwards. You are a star! We love you!

So for the introduction, you invite Joe to come to the driving range with you to hit a few balls and decide if he is suited for the game and if he will pursue the game as a new hobby.

You get to the range and you immediately get to work on helping Joe out with the basics.

You pass him the biggest and baddest of the clubs in your bag, the driver, and off you go.

You show him how to grip the club, you show him how to stand. You tell him to bend his knees, keep his arms straight, keep his head down and not to care about the person in the bay next to him whacking 300 drives over the back of the driving range fence. 

“He’s clearly a pro and has been playing the game for years. You’ll be hitting balls like that in an hour!”

So Joe eventually makes contact with the little white ball after whiffing four, and removing more earth than Cecil John Rhodes and Barney Barnato did from the Kimberly Hole. The ball scuttles a few metres off the driver face before dying a sorry death against the sidewall of the driving range.

“Well done! Now carry on hitting whilst I duff a few of my own.”

What’s wrong with this picture?

Well, let’s draw a comparison (remembering of course that golf is a highly technical sport whereby the margins for error are EXTREMELY small):

You go to the dentist. He informs you that you have a rather large hole in your top left pre-molar. Expensive treatment or have it removed?

You have just invested in a new Taylor Made driver, so you decide that extraction is the obvious choice.

He injects you with some anesthetic and you drool away for the next hour whilst he dislodges said problem tooth with a rather large pair of dental pliers. Voila, job done!

Joe has a tooth ache the next week at your braai for the rugger. You step in. You tell Joe to sit comfortably on the kitchen chair. You administer a whiskey as an anesthetic substitute, draw the rusty pliers from the toolbox and remove the problem tooth!

Yup… That’s gonna happen.

The same should be said for golf.

You are only causing damage by helping Joe. You are ill-qualified to coach him in such a technically specific sport – just as you are with extracting his tooth. 

Yes, he will hit a few good shots under your watch, but it’s more likely due to the fact that he might have played some other ball sports growing up and has a reasonable idea on how to get the club to the ball.

“Ouch! That’s not fair,” you say. 

No, it is. For the record, no pro golfer bends their knees or has their arms straight like that. Watch Sunday night golf a little more carefully.

You are “ill-equipped” to coach a fellow human being about the intricacies of the game, so don’t.

Book Joe a lesson with the qualified pro at the driving range or at your golf club, and you will really be giving him a real gift – not years of torment and struggle that he’ll experience from “bad habits practiced well”.  Imagine if you give him the gift of good habits practiced well.

Not only this, but you will save Joe a fortune in his search for equipment to alleviate his ever-present slice, as well as a ton of money on lost golf balls.

Consider yourself reprimanded and don’t do it again!

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