Coaching not just for bad players

2013-07-26 00:00

WATCHING the Open Championship last weekend on television, it was revealed that the top three players on the leader board at that time were all using the same swing coach.

It then occurred to me that even the best golfers on the planet are continually coached. They have coaches who specialise in different departments of the game. For instance there are coaches for the swing, short game, bunker shots and putting, and if that’s not enough there are psychologists who coach positive thinking.

All this is in an effort to improve and win tournaments. So it does beg the question, why don’t amateurs have more coaching lessons from professionals?

There are a couple of possible explanations for this. Many amateurs believe that lessons from a pro are for beginners and not for those who can play reasonably well. It is also thought that the only time people should see a teaching pro is when they are playing badly. Therefore, a lesson is an act of desperation.

In other words, people want the pro to identify the reason for bad play. There’s nothing wrong with that, but had they ­visited the pro every couple of months or so, their game may not have deteriorated.

There is one further misconception. Amateurs often believe that when they do seek advice, the pro will want to radically change the way they swing the club. This is not true

In KwaZulu-Natal, we have some excellent teaching professionals. John Dixon and Garth Pearson in Durban, Derek James on the South Coast, who specialises in the short game, and here in Pietermaritzburg, Tommy O’Neill.

It is documented that up to 85% of amateurs worldwide are playing with clubs that are ill-suited to their swings. Today, modern electronic technology can measure all aspects of a golfer’s swing plus the important moment of impact with the ball.

The measuring equipment will recommend the shaft flex, weight and length of clubs that will be ideal for the way you play.

There are a few low handicap senior golfers who have carried their low handicaps into old age.

They achieved this by playing regularly, practising and an occasional visit to their local professional.

An exciting back nine saw Phil Mickelson win the Open Championship and he becomes the third successive player in his 40s to win the Claret Jug after Darren Clarke and Ernie Els.

From the 19th hole:

The Dalai Lama was once asked what surprised him most about humanity. He answered:

“Man sacrifices his health in order to make money. He then sacrifices money to recuperate his health.

“Then he is so anxious about the future that he doesn’t enjoy the present; the result being that he doesn’t live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”

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