Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Thoughts On The Future Of Golf Instruction...

Was thinking about this the other day...what path will the future of golf instruction go into?

Here's some of my thoughts:

1. Trackman and Trackman like devices will be the norm.

It seems like the logical step to me. At the 2011 PGA Merchandise show there was an abundance of these type of launch monitors that not only measure the ball, but measure (or calculate) the club dimensions thru impact. Trackman will likely be the ‘top dog’ in the launch monitor industry with FlightScope right on its tail. Hopefully when we get some people like John Graham ( doing side by side comparisons of Trackman vs. the new FlightScope product we’ll see how accurate it is. But the ‘mini-Trackman’ devices were in full force at the PGA Show, much like the Pocket Pro.

I remember getting a lesson with a PGA professional back in 1995 who used a video camera and drew plane lines on the camera. Back then, that was considered RADICAL and many eschewed the idea of using video at all, regardless if you were using line drawing. I had people saying ‘looking at your swing on video will only screw up your game.’ By 2000, everybody and their mother was using video and drawing lines. So my guess is that Trackman, which has been eschewed by many in the golf instruction community, will eventually become all of the rage by 2015.

2. Casio cameras will be more or less mandatory

The main reason for this is today’s Casio line of cameras are not much more expensive than a decent camcorder, plus you can use the Casio for regular picture taking as well. And the technology for Casio keeps getting better and better. My Casio EX-FH20 cost me $240 which included everything (tax and shipping as well) and I will probably purchase another one of the newer models in the next year or 18 months.

3. D-Plane will be readily accepted and teachers will act like they always knew about it, when they didn’t.

I actually didn’t think this would happen until last month when Dr. Gary Wiren (the main dude that directs the PGA with regards to teaching) was supposedly at the PGA Teaching Summit with the Trackman guys saying how great D-Plane was. Then to top it off, Wiren supposedly (I wasn’t there) claimed that his ball flight laws he outlined in the PGA Manuals were not wrong.

Well, whatever.

But you get the idea here, it’s going to be accepted and put into teaching and 9 out of 10 instructors will act like that’s how they always teached the ball flight laws. Still though, I’ve seen plenty of instructors memorize the correct laws of ball flight, but putting them into practice is a different story.

4. Putting Instruction Will Revolve More Around AimPoint Green Reading and Putter Fitting

AimPoint Golf is expanding it’s instruction around the nation and now internationally. I don’t think it will be something that is at every instructional facility or known by every instructor, but it will likely become very popular throughout the US and something that every section will have somebody who has heard of it or has learned it.

The problem they face is probably the golfer’s unwillingness to go against their instincts and most golf instruction revolves around the swing while putting is an afterthought.

Since AimPoint Golf and Edel Golf have formed a partnership, I expect that more instructors and more putter companies will focus harder on proper aim. However, learning touch/speed will still fall way behind.

5. Some Stack and Tilt, Then Some Old School

I think for the next 5-10 years more instruction will favor a Stack and Tilt style swing. I think S&T sorta had a ‘hiccup’ as far as popularity goes as golfers seemed to be willing to try it when the first Golf Digest article came out and then it sunk in popularity a bit and now it seems to be making a rise again, particularly with the noticeable similarities of S&T and what Tiger Woods has done with his golf swing. But, golf instruction is a lot like fashion, a trend takes over and then it goes away only to come back years later. My guess is that the S&T popularity will subside eventually and then the trend will be more like a Jimmy Ballard swing with a big move off the ball and then a big move back to the ball. Throw that in with some D-Plane knowledge and more instructors having Trackman and some getting into the 6* 3D machines.

6. Sadly An Old Friend Fades Away

Sadly I believe that TGM will start to fade away. Not because it’s invalid or won’t help golfers, but there’s been a lot of former AI’s that I’ve talked with that are very unhappy with the company’s direction and other instructors who would typically become an AI, but don’t like what they see either.

The rumor now going around is that they do not give the GSED designation out anymore. If true, it reminds me of going to get a job evaluation at your work and them telling you that on a scale of 1 to 5 ‘nobody is allowed to receive a 5.’ Well, what are we trying to achieve then…sub-excellence?

7. The PGA Loses Membership As Well

I don’t hate the PGA by any means, but I often think they do a poor job by its members. Years ago a friend of mine finally got the Head Pro job at a club and was fired for what was a ridiculous reason. I can’t even say he ‘made an offense’ because he didn’t. But where was the PGA to help mediate this matter? Where they usually are…nowhere. And my friend faced the choice of ‘being sent down to the minors’ going back as an Assistant and seeing his pay cut by 2/3rds or finding a new job. He eventually decided to go back to school and get his law degree and passed the bar. But too many pros don’t have those options.

More and more golf clubs do not care if you are a member of the PGA and very few instruction facilities care at all. I think more and more pros seem to realize this and the costs associated with being a PGA Member and have deemed it a waste of time and money.



Keith said...

I am not going to go into my past PGA life, so please just believe me when I say that I passed the PAT (joke, absolute fu-k--g joke, two smooth rounds of 80 would have done it at my location) then off to the first school.The PGA constitution, which is basically don't bad mouth your fellow PGA member. Come to find out, completely unenforceable, and I know this because they told us at school and I filed a complaint against our head pro and the section office actually said, "What do you want us to do about it?" At the first school I brought up that American Golf was really putting the screws to their teaching professionals and was the PGA going to step in to help the professionals get more than 10% of their lessons. This was the answer and I think it is important to really understand what was said, both from a PGA member perspective and a consumer perspective. "The PGA is not a Union, it is not an accrediting body, it is a Fraternal Organization. It's sole responsibility is to promote the PGA. As a member, you get to put PGA behind your name. That is all!" The sole purpose of the apprentice program and I quote, "To provide a cheap labour pool for the head pro's and DoGs. If you want to learn marketing or product placement go to school or go to work for Nordstrom's." If you want to learn how to stack hats or fold socks or take crap from the members go in the PGA apprentice program.
I'm not bitter, I might sound bitter, but I am not. I got out. I was very fortunate, I have a college degree and I started my own company. I play more golf now than I ever did, but every time I walk into a pro shop I feel sorry for the guys behind the counter. There is no future, there is not enough head pro positions for all of them and they are barely making minimum wage. On top of that, few get enough time to teach or actually work for someone who can teach. So basically they are screwed, they are not even learning retail sales. If you love golf, stay the HELL away from the PGA. Go to school get a good job and play as much as you want. The only perk, and I quote from the idiot that led the first school,"now that you have passed the test on the constitution and are officially in the apprentice program, go to the get in free."

Rich H. said...

Thanks, Keith. I've heard some PGA Members tell me that 'it's like a union', which I scoff at and tell them that they've never been in a union. I've never been in a union either, but most of my family has been in one at one point in their lives. My buddy's firing was really dumb, which I wish I could discuss here, but I can't.

Also the problem today is that these PGM schools are now oversaturating the assistant pro and teaching pro market.

I see too many good teaching pros who didn't start to make waves until they just got out of the PGA umbrella.


Unknown said...

Rich, I was at the teaching summit and my first question is do you own a copy of the pga manual?If not, to quote page 34, face position has a greater potential to influence the flight of the ball than does the swing path! the direction in which the ball starts will always be the result of a combination of swing path and clubface position, so as trackman says 85% toward the face on longer clubs and 65% on shorter clubs.
As far as your comments about TGM, I have been invited by the golfing machine to embark on their GSED programme, probably not my place to talk about this, but I just felt you needed to be updated on this, love the site by the way, and if you want to discuss this more my email is

TJ said...


I agree with much about what you said about the future of golf instruction. Unfortunately, TGM is being blown away by technology and without getting into specifics, it will be obsolete if it does not adapt. As far as the PGA is concerned, I believe there may be a bit of a misconception. The PGA is a lot like getting a college doesn't guarantee you more money in the real world but rather is an investment in your human capital. Just because you are a PGA member does not always mean you are most qualified person for the job. Golf Clubs are looking to hire the most qualified professionals and sometimes that means non-PGA members.

TJ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
TJ said...


continue reading down the page at the explanation of push and pull or pg 287-288 on curving specialty shots and then ask if you think the pga still got it right

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