Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Golf Instruction Marketing

One of the questions asked over at the Brian Manzella forum ( is 'what's the most ridiculous advice you ever heard?'

I replied 'keep your head down.'

I wanted to expand upon that further, but I have been thinking about this lately and how it relates to bad golf scores and how it effects golf instructors, so I decided to post it here instead

First off, I play with double digit handicappers WEEKLY. I think that puts me in a unique position because I'm dealing with golfers who don't know much about the golf swing and rarely get a lesson, unless they are in dire straits like shanking it.

The problem I think most golf instructors face is that most of their students are people that are seeking them out for instruction and no matter what...were likely to get lessons anyway.

However, according to AMF studies, only 10% of the golfing population actually takes golf lessons. There's the old 80/20 rule in business which says 20% of your customer base will make up 80% of your business. I think this applies well for instructors, if not even more extreme like 10% is 90% of your business.

Another statistic?

The average score hasn't gone down in 80 years!

I think this has a lot to do with instruction as well...partly being golfers not getting instruction and to counter...a lot of poor instruction going out there as well.

But the more I play with these double digit handicappers, the more I believe that the reason why the average score hasn't gone down has A LOT to do with the self instruction of 'keeping your head down.' And I mean A LOT, like probably upwards to 80% of the problem.

Here's the main philosophy of the golfer who never takes a lesson or very rarely takes one:

'If I do not get the ball airborn, it's because I moved my head. If I don't move my head, the ball will at least get airborn and will not be hit fat or thin.'

I think most golfers reading this will agree that this statement is pretty close to being accurate as to what these golfers *think*.

However, it's dead wrong about 95% of the time. In fact, here's a sample video of a golfer hitting a ground ball with his head looking down at impact.

I believe that most golfers get frustrated with the game right away and as far as getting a lesson goes, it comes down to their level of faith that if they get a lesson, how much will they improve.

With this belief of 'keeping the head down and you'll get it airborn', I feel that these golfers are somewhat content with that and then judge good golfers as people that have an inordinate amount of talent and/or put in a ton of time in the range.

That can be true, but I think many instructors would agree that you can turn into a pretty good golfer who can break 80 without a ton of natural talent and a ton of time put into the range.

So, if I was an instructor at a club with a membership base I would greatly promote myself debunking the myth of 'keeping your head down.' If anything, I would show that keeping the head down does not mean you will get the ball consistently airborn and that I can show a student how to consistently get the ball airborn.

I think that if promoted aggressively, that will give way to a spike in increased lessons.

Of course, the difficult part is getting the golfer to get the ball consistently airborne. But if that happens, I think many of those golfers will want more, like improved accuracy, more distances and lower scores and they'll do that with more lessons.

While I love getting into the finite aspects of the swing, I think that the scores won't decrease until 'keeping your head down' is thoroughly debunked.



Anonymous said...

Ok, but....Keep your Head Down.

Right Wing Political Junkie said...

Richie, I think the reason people don't improve is far more simple than all of that.


"I don't need lessons, I can figure it out myself."

It's really the American way and I'm willing to bet more Europeans take lessons than Americans. It's just our attitude.

Anonymous said...

80% of golfers have not taken lessons.

Rich H. said...

Ringer, I think that's a certainly a part of it. But I think it generally comes down to how much they can improve and the cost and time. If they could spend $200 and take 15-30 minutes a day and go from a 10 handicap to a scratch in 4 months, they'd probably do that. Hell, I think if they could go from a 10 to a 4 in that time they'd do that. But IMO the teaching usually isn't good enough and avoids explaining things like why 'keeping your head down' is a farce and why if you learn to control the low point, THEN you will get the ball airborn consistently.

I think if you can prove to them that and then get them to execute that part of the swing, then they'll buy into you improving other things like accuracy and power.

Most of my time I play I attempt to do some research on what the average golfer is really thinking, usually to get ideas for my blog. Not a round goes by where some amateur talks about 'keeping their head down' and quite frankly I've never seen an instructor address it once.