Steve Whidden, PGA Master Professional
Teach Your Students to Bring Feel to
the Course and Not Thoughts For Better Results
Our job as golf instructors is
twofold. First we have to teach the necessary skills that it
takes to perform all of the shots that are involved in playing
this great game. Secondly, we need to help them succeed on the
golf course. From driving the ball, to hitting a hybrid solid,
to getting the irons to be hit more accurately, chipping the
ball closer and hitting putts with better speed.
Of course there are certain essentials
that must be taught by us and performed by the student for the
shot to come off successfully. But as we all know, something
that we hear again and again is that either they feel that their
practice swing is perfect but they cant seem to hit the
ball when it comes time; or they hit it well on the practice
range but cant seem to bring it to the golf course.
I have a two part solution to
getting our students to perform better out on the golf course.
One part lies with us as their instructor, and one lies with
them as the player. Heres how it works.
Golf is a game that is to be
played by feel. Yes, there is no disputing the fact that we must
teach our students the correct motions but all of the motions
lead to correctness in the most important part of any golf swing
We need to be making sure that our students are capable of making
a good practice swing at impact. Instead of the student
being mislead that their practice swing feels great, since there
is nothing like ball flight to tell them any different, we must
teach them what requirements a practice swing must have as far
as feel, and then it is their responsibility to feel it when
they go to hit their shot.
For example, a correct iron shot
requires a proper angle of attack which has the club head descending
down hitting the golf ball first and then hitting the ground.
This would result in a divot that is left of the ball. During
our students practice swings, I doubt they pay much attention
as to where the club is actually striking the ground, and sometimes
they rehearse a stroke with an iron, do not brush the ground
but still claim that it was a good swing.
We need to make sure our students
are capable of making a scar left of the ball, or hear the swoosh
with a Driver from the ball forward, or look at the hole while
taking a practice putting stroke; and be able to feel the length
and pace of stroke theyre going to need on a particular
pitch shot while still making the correct impact requirement
of scuffing the grass left of the ball.
Once those requirements are fulfilled
I teach my students to get up to the ball and without delay,
try to make the same swing by feel, not thought.
The routine that I teach is very
simple and has proven wonderful results in my students:
1: Line up the shot from behind the ball picking an intermediate
target a few feet in front of the ball to aim the club face,
and pick a target left of the intended target in the distance
where it will feel as though they are aiming when they correctly
aim parallel left of the target.
2: Walk to the side of the ball and place club head away
from but equal to the ball, and get ready for practice swing.
3: Make a real length and speed practice swing fulfilling
the requirement of good impact for that shot (Swoosh at the ball
and left of it for a driver, a divot at the ball and left of
it for irons, a bushing of the grass at the ball and left or
it for hybrids and fairway woods, a putting swing while looking
at the hole that feels just right).
4: Once that requirement is accomplished, the student should
step up to the ball and say to themselves same thing
as they actually hit the shot.
This method has proven to not
allow the student to get bogged down with a lot of mechanical
thoughts while over the shot, and the little amount of time between
the successful practice swing and the actual shot is so little
that the body is just trying to emulate a feel not trying to
figure out how to do it. After all, thats our job to teach
them how to do it; its their job to feel their way to better
This routine has given me a way
to evaluate not only their skill level while at the same time
evaluating their mental focus. Better results spread like wildfire,
and my ability to get my students feeling golf instead of working
at it has kept my lesson book filled to the brim!!
Steve Whidden, 2010 Southwest Florida PGA Teacher of the Year,
Dir. of Instruction, The Steve Whidden Golf Academy, Rosedale
Golf & Country Club,
5100 87th Street East , Bradenton, Florida 34211,~(941) firstname.lastname@example.org