Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Questions to Ask When Choosing An Instructor

Blog reader and forum member iacas sent me this link from his forum about what questions to ask a golf instructor.

10 Questions to Ask An Instructor

This was done with forum member and Stack and Tilt instructor Dave Wedzik (www.thegolfevolution.com). Here's my thoughts:
Question One: What gives the ball its initial direction: clubface angle or path?
Excellent question. The one thing with instructors is that I think you want to come off as somebody who doesn’t understand and you want them to understand the laws of ball flight (correctly) and then use that to teach them.

We’ve gone over Michael Breed understanding the correct ball flight laws, but then he gives a lesson like this.

As we know, you can hit a big time hook with an open clubface, so Breed’s remedy of closing the face over more or less shows me that he knows the correct answer and has memorized it, but when it comes to putting it into practice, he really doesn’t understand the correct ball flight laws well enough. It sort of reminds me of when I took German classes in school and I could memorize the lines well enough to pass the course, but when it came to using German in a real life situation, I was mediocre at best.
Question Two: If a golfer wants to hit the biggest draw - would he move the weight the furthest forward or the furthest back?
Another good question. Again, ask the question in a way that it sounds like you generally do not know and see if the golfer gets it right. A lot of golfers talk about ‘getting around it’ or ‘getting behind it’ to hit a draw, but if the weight is more forward, golfers usually see their attack angle get steeper. And when the attack angle gets steeper, the path tends to move out to the right (more inside-to-out). Many instructors live by the ‘getting behind it’ theory, so you need to figure out if that’s something they subscribe to.
Question Three: Does the spine's actual angle taken at address (flexion from the hips) stay that way throughout the backswing? Or does the spine extend/straighten as the hips come out of their anterior tilt?
This comes off as a loaded question. The problem here is a pro would either look it up, may not understand the language (aka anterior tilt).
Question Nine: Do you make use of video? Yes or No?
Most of the other questions were ‘loaded’ questions that a swing instructor may not want to answer or may ‘cheat’ on. This one I agree with.

Obviously, there’s problems with using a camera in that camera angles can be deceiving. But I believe that golfers generally learn well from seeing their swing on camera and knowing what to look for when they go back home and then videotape their swing in the future.

I would ask for their general teaching philosophy.

For me, I want an instructor that believes there is no one way to swing the club and what really matters is a golfer’s impact conditions and actually understands the ins and outs of impact. But most of all, I’m looking for teachers who improve golfers and a wide range of golfers. There are some teachers who are great with hackers, but not so great with the rest. Some are great with just excellent golfers. Some are experts at developing junior golfers. Some are good with giving the weekend golfers some tips to take a couple of strokes off their game. And some are good at improving accuracy, some are good with improving distance, etc.

IMO, you really want the instructor that improves as many different types of golfers in many different ways as they can. Sooner or later you will fit into that category.



dana said...

I told Mike pena to run down there and put Breed on the spot. I help him out from time to time. He knows that the face can't be closed at impact. Funny stuff

Rich H. said...

He's one of my favorite actors since I was such a huge mark for The Shield. Good to see him work with a real teacher, not some memorizer who can't put 2 and 2 together and use it in his actual teaching. And hey, you don't charge $500 a hour either!