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The simple reason golfers don’t get better



“Better than a thousand days of deep study is one day with a great teacher.”

It is quite possible that we have more knowledge of the golf swing than we have ever had before. Like any other field, new and advancing technologies have enlightened us about the biomechanics of the sport and what it takes to play better. There are things we know to be true that once were considered heretical, and others things we know to be erroneous that we once held as gospel truths. As a result of 3-D measurements and enhanced video techniques, there should be little to no guesswork in swing diagnoses any longer. This much can be said: There are several reasons professionals are playing the game at such a high level; not the least of those reasons is technology and the knowledge we get from it.

But what about the amateur player, the club golfer or weekend warrior? Are they getting better? Statistically we can’t say they are. And if they are, it certainly is not proportional to our increase in knowledge. If we accept this premise as true, and I believe it is, then we have to explore why. Why is the average golfer not improving, or improving much more slowly than perhaps they should? As a lifetime member of the golf teaching community, I think the answer lies in teaching itself, and particularly in the learning format: the standard golf lesson.

One of the most frequent things I hear as a teacher is: “When we had the lesson, I got it; but I couldn’t carry it the golf course. In fact, the corrections only lasted a little while; I guess I went back to my old habits.” One of the reasons for this recurring phenomenon is this: the student simply never had “it” in the first place. They had a brief encounter with better contact of the golf ball through a series of motions completely unfamiliar to them, as directed by an instructor. That is light years from “getting it.” The inevitable lack of retention soon follows, and we go through this whole process again.

What then is the reason for this vicious cycle? I believe we need a paradigm shift in the whole process of teaching golf. The standard 30- or 60-minute lesson format needs to become part of golf instruction history. We need to establish a student/teacher arrangement that goes beyond this structure and can provide more long-term learning.  

The lesson as it now stands is perfectly suited to short-term learning. One hour can provide a quick fix for some immediate problem such as slicing or shanking, but it fails to convey a deeper understanding of one’s whole swing dynamic, so the corrections never last for very long. I am suggesting an arrangement that would allow you to see your teacher as often as is needed to develop a better motion. These sessions can be quite brief, but should be much more frequent. If you think of a lesson as 60 minutes once a week to change some 30 years of habits, you will see why I think a different approach is needed and can be more effective. In a GOOD hour I might see a few new swings: perhaps one in every five will have something a little new to it. But as soon as that person gets on their own, the ratio might be down to 1 in 50! If you think that estimate is exaggerated, come spend a day with me on the lesson tee. Golfers, like anyone else, find the most familiar ways to do things, not new ways.

Another thing to consider might be the way in which information is conveyed in a lesson. Michael Hebron, a PGA Master Professional from New York, has done extensive research in this area (which I highly recommend golfers read). Basically what Hebron is saying is this:  The day of the “how-to” lesson needs to go away. Students need to be much more active in their learning with the teacher acting as their guide. Instead of “how-to’s,” the teacher needs to provide learning opportunities for self discovery on the part of the student. The only long-term learning stems from self discovery; the current lesson format lends itself to short-term learning only!  

This is why I try to provide ways for my students to get the information on their own as much as possible. If I stand on the tee and show them “how” on every swing, by the end of the lesson they will absolutely hit the ball better. And by the time they are driving home, they will have forgotten (mentally and physically) everything I showed them. More “aha” moments are necessary! “Oh I get that now” feelings and thoughts are the only way to get it.

Golfers also need to find new ways to practice golf. The benchmark in Southwest Florida has always been how many balls a golfer hits, or how many hours they spend on the practice tee.  To actually improve, you may want to use a different barometer such as:

  • How many NEW SWINGS did I make?
  • How often did I change clubs and take 3-to-4 minutes between swings?
  • Did I hit driver and then 7 iron five minutes later as I might on the golf course?
  • Did I practice from random lies as found on the golf course, or did I tee it up every time on a perfect lie as I never do except on par 3s?

If you can hit driver and then 7 iron several minutes later and continue to hit it solid, you might really be getting in the groove, not a false sense of the groove provided by quick repetition of shots where you can auto-correct after a few swings. I’ll tell you what, if you hit a small bucket from the tee and another one into the green and take your best shots, I’ll bet you shoot a pretty good score! After a practice session, you’ll typically remember the best shots and forget the unplayable ones (scrambles are like that, because no one leaves a scramble hitting it poorly because all the “others” are tossed out). That’s why hitting balls on the range can be very misleading.

I have written about this before on this site and elsewhere, and I will continue to do so until golfers (and teachers) get the point. Although we may be teaching enlightened concepts, instructing students the same old way is not going to change anything.

If you are a physically capable person with a 20 handicap, I can see no reason why you cannot cut that in half in one year with the proper practice and instruction. Although I am still in the 1-hour framework, I have been trending away from it, and soon hope to be away from it altogether. What motivates me on a daily basis is improvement, because I know it can be done.

As always, feel free to send a swing video to my Facebook page and I will do my best to give you my feedback.

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Dennis Clark is a PGA Master Professional. Clark has taught the game of golf for more than 30 years to golfers all across the country, and is recognized as one of the leading teachers in the country by all the major golf publications. He is also is a seven-time PGA award winner who has earned the following distinctions: -- Teacher of the Year, Philadelphia Section PGA -- Teacher of the Year, Golfers Journal -- Top Teacher in Pennsylvania, Golf Magazine -- Top Teacher in Mid Atlantic Region, Golf Digest -- Earned PGA Advanced Specialty certification in Teaching/Coaching Golf -- Achieved Master Professional Status (held by less than 2 percent of PGA members) -- PGA Merchandiser of the Year, Tri State Section PGA -- Golf Professional of the Year, Tri State Section PGA -- Presidents Plaque Award for Promotion and Growth of the Game of Golf -- Junior Golf Leader, Tri State section PGA -- Served on Tri State PGA Board of Directors. Clark is also former Director of Golf and Instruction at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort. Dennis now teaches at Bobby Clampett's Impact Zone Golf Indoor Performance Center in Naples, FL. .



  1. Doc

    Jun 1, 2017 at 6:46 pm

    Every one, not just some of the 95% of golfers that make up the weekend warriors or hackers or hobbyists; but everyone has a basic swing inside them.
    It’s easier to teach a person how to approach the game of golf with the basic known formulas that have been around for at least 70 years that I have know of and let the basic circular-descending-inside to out swing do the rest.
    Too much emphasis is put on equipment and not enough ‘ah hah’ moments when taking a basic swing.
    All the teaching of twisting and turning and body weight shift and then undo it all just to return to your set up position is really a waste but is and has been taught by instructors for decades. No one ever takes the time to tell a 95%-er that they will never shoot par golf. They most likely will never shoot in the 70’s. But, they can break 90 every weekend and even end up in the mid 80’s with just 4 or 5 well tuned shots.
    There is just no money in making a person a good golfer. Once they learn the ‘how to’ they are not a cash cow for the instructors.
    Just remember anyone can break 90 with 4 or 5 well tuned shots. The same ones over and over again on any hole on any course.
    If we had been taught correctly over the past 70 years we’d all be shooting great rounds, but the 95% do not, but could.

  2. Pingback: 4 Simple Things You Can Do To Play Golf Better | NADIANEREA

  3. Stephen

    Jun 11, 2016 at 11:26 am

    I see my post may not have made it to the site.
    I understand why though.

  4. Frank McChrystal

    Nov 26, 2015 at 9:40 pm

    Teachers, nurses, salesmen and coaches are born. There just aren’t enough to go around.

  5. Dennis Clark

    Sep 6, 2015 at 9:21 pm

    Pete this was a whole ago, but I’m at Nemacolin Woodlands for a the fall

  6. Pingback: Why golfers don’t get better and more… |

  7. Chris Downing

    Jul 16, 2014 at 1:36 am

    This whole area of discussion about how many balls to hit, “beating balls at the range” always seems to be motivated by the idea that their must be a shorter, more effect route to playing good golf. In my opinion as a music teacher, there may be effective ways to learn, but there is no short route.

    Learning golf in many ways is like learning to play an instrument – both are essentailly motor skills with mental skills attached at a later stage. In music I expect (and students expect) to take a 30 minute lesson and they go away and practice for something like 5-10 hours before we meet again. In golf that doesn’t happen. In music a student can see the stages of compitency stretching out ahead of them in the 8 grade exams that lead to the start of higher levels of study at college. They see the Grade exams taking at least six months each – four years minimum of at least an hour a day of focused practice. In golf, most players have a completely unrealistic idea of how well they will play and how soon – expecting to play off 10 in about two years max – and somehow managing to get there on a couple of hours of hitting balls at the range and two rounds of golf a week.

    Even though I know all this from years of teaching music, I still approached my golf on the two hours + two rounds apprach for twenty years. At least until I retired last year – and its taken me all year to learn how to take lessons and write it all down in notes, and how to apply the teaching, and how to work to a structured practice schedule that takes a coupe of hours a day! Only now am I making some progress.

    Repition does work so long as you are working on correct techniques – you don’t find the correct technique and then just go out and know it forever on the course, it takes lots of repitition. 200 putts a day, 100 full swings at different speeds and shaft angles, 100 chipps, 100 pitches and 50 bunker shots. Stop kidding yourself there’s a short cut. Stop listening to those who want to believe that and don’t want you to get any better than then, the people who say beating balls is just a waste of time.

    • Neige

      Jul 20, 2015 at 9:44 pm

      Nice post.

    • Workingman

      Nov 27, 2015 at 8:13 pm

      We all will have to retire in order to have enough time..old lady might not be too pleased!

  8. Lynn Hall

    Jun 24, 2014 at 2:35 pm

    Nice to read some useful information.
    My take on this is – I see EVERYONE on the range just pounding balls.
    I went from a 100 ball bucket to a 50 ball bucket & line up each shot as if I were playing a course. Switch clubs as I visualize the course I usually play & never hit more than 2 shots with any one club. Driver – 4 iron – wedge. My hole #1 at Shorecliffs GC in San Clemente. Then I mentally play hole #2, etc.
    I find my focus has improved as well as my scores. All thanks to my instructor Jerry ‘Mouse’ Bruner – European Senior Tour player. He had me tighten up my grip, play the ball back in the middle of my stance (irons) & not worry about how my swing looks. Jerry worked on what I needed to do with the body & flexibility I have at age 63. My scores have improved in competition.

  9. Justinb

    May 19, 2014 at 7:38 pm

    There are a lot of things wrong with the way golf is learned. People get style-focused; they worry about what it looks like. Is my arm straight? Is my wrist cupped/bent? Is my shoulders turned 90* and my hips 45*? Why can’t I swing like ?

    How many are taught to score? Aside from the basics, what else about the swing needs to be discussed? What does it matter about your shoulder-to-hip turn ratio if you don’t know how to avoid trouble on the course?

    To put it another way: watch 100 tour pros, and you’ll see 100 different swings. Watch 100 different MLB pitchers and you’ll see 100 different deliveries. Some tour pros are longer or more accurate; some pitchers may have more velocity or control. Regardless, they know how to score or get people out.

    To get average golfers to lower their handicaps, we should focus less on mechanics and teach them how to play. Get equipment that fits the swing they have, play the correct tees and teach them how to score.

    If they have the time and inclination, then they can work on things like increasing swing speed and altering mechanics.

    • B

      Jun 3, 2014 at 3:48 am

      I swore I was the only one who thought this! I have taken 3 or 4 lessons and none helped in the long run! I am currently in the high 90s about 4 yrs ago I was mid 80s with no instruction and playing 18 every other day. Do you believe playing a course is better than just hitting the driving range? I know the driving range is needed.

      • Anon

        Jul 7, 2014 at 11:43 am

        Of course 3 or 4 hour long lessons did not help you. Did you learn how to play golf in 3 or 4 hours? If you are shooting in the 90’s and want to get to the 70’s, it will take at least 6 months of going to a pro at least twice a month, assuming that you have the physical ability to shoot those scores.

        There is no magic pill that will fix your game, you have to practice, and practice correctly under professional supervision.

        You can either dig it out of the dirt by yourself and take a ton of hours to get better, or you can have a trained eye help you and get a lot more out of your time.

    • Gordon Hartwig

      Jul 30, 2014 at 5:45 pm

      where does one find any instructor who will do those things?

  10. Bryan

    May 11, 2014 at 11:10 am

    Let me preface this comment by saying that I have been golfing for a long time, but have only had the true desire to improve over the last two years. In that two years, I have learned a lot of basic stuff from the internet or books….things like grip and different swing theories which made a huge difference in my game initially. AFter seeing the improvement I was able to make on my own, last year I was inspired to finally take some lessons. After a few lessons, there was very little improvement, even with a good bit of practice. Finally, towards the end of the year, I had a chance to go to a golf academy and get three solid days of instruction. That made a huge difference. The instructor was able to explain things to me and I was able to practice with the instructor looking at what was going on and making adjustments on the fly and correcting mistakes before I made things worse.

    The program that you are talking about could be very similar to that whole experience. Take a quick lesson and get something to work on. Come back a few days later and be able to practice with the instructor watching to make sure you are practicing correctly. I don’t need an hour of that, just a few minutes and a handful of swings and some feedback. I think your program could be very beneficial to people who are motivated to improve and already have a good grasp of what it is they should be doing. Best of luck going forward. I would be interested if I was closer.

  11. Ron

    May 7, 2014 at 2:42 pm

    Dennis – if you substitute “physics class” for “golf lesson” you could have been talking about how I try to teach. As a retired university professor (and 4-handicap) who is still teaching at the university (as well as helping my golf friends occasionally!), I see a lot of analogy between what you say about teaching golf and teaching physics.

    My version of one of your sentences would be: One of the most frequent things I hear as a teacher is: “When you said it in class, I got it; but I couldn’t do the problems on my own.” Those insights and approaches I try to get across could be followed, but not internalized and applied – and then it is back to the old preconceptions. “One of the reasons for this recurring phenomenon is this: the student simply never had “it” in the first place.”, as you said.

    And you may well have nailed why I have never seriously considered golf lessons (they might help, but at 74, how much am I likely to change my swing?). Most of the lessons I hear being given on the range – even by instructors with deep knowledge of the golf swing – include too much information packed into a one hour session. Learning takes retraining the brain. And that requires a lot of absorption time as well as systematic practice – whether it is golf or physics.

  12. Chris

    May 3, 2014 at 6:50 am

    I am 41 and began playing at 6. For 35 years i never had a lesson. I saw my friends fall a part after a teacher shoved thoughts in their head. I feel the basics of golf can be taught but as a scratch golfer i know what it takes to shoot 65. Not many people process the ability and will never learn. Getting better on the other hand is possible. Breaking 90 or 80 is a reachable goal through instruction. As a teacher I gave one tip per lesson as that was understood and implemented consistently on the course we would move. Prioritizing issues is the key. I totally agree with the 4 – 15 minute sessions. You don’t really have to be athletic to play golf. But the mental side is crucial. One has to really understand what makes the ball do what it does, good or bad.

    • Workingman

      Nov 27, 2015 at 8:24 pm

      I like to ask teaching pros ( in a round about way) if they learned to play by taking lessons…funny enough they were all self- taught- lol. addition to that every good golfer I have met over 25 years of playing have told me they have never taken lessons…you can tell too because they all had very unique swings.

      ..also anyone mention that golf pros want to totally change your swing so that they can make money giving you lessons for years…lol. I’ve gotten so much better by just googling my swing issues and finding answers given by butch Harmon etc

  13. Joe ngaw

    Apr 30, 2014 at 5:33 pm

    Golf is meant to be enjoyed; good or bad scores notwithstanding. Fretting about a bad shot and getting stressed defeats the purpose of the game…

    • Dennis Clark

      Apr 30, 2014 at 8:47 pm

      “don’t hurry, don’t worry, and remember to smell the flowers along the way”…Walter Hagen

      • Kevin

        May 2, 2014 at 2:02 am

        What I would add essentially supports Mr. Clark’s main points. There is the undeniable fact the game within 100 yards and on the green is the “stuff” of life-long learning. But to focus on fuller swing ball striking for the moment, all golfers set sail on a journey through a myriad of concepts.

        Hit “down” on it to make it go “up”? How does that stack up with “brush the grass”? Hit “through” it? Coil? Swing from the ground-up? With time these concepts take on much better meaning. But getting there is a winding road… at the end of which a golfer actually learns more about what comes OUT of his/her swing versus what goes in it. It eventually becomes more about relaxing and keeping it simple. Wow… what a long road we embark upon to end up learning to relax and keep it simple!

        • Dennis Clark

          May 2, 2014 at 1:12 pm

          Very good points Kevin. We are not culturally wired to relax. We need to be “de-programmed” as the eastern Mystics have told us. it is difficult if not impossible to to enter a crowded space, such as the western mind; my Zen friends teach that the best concentration is none! Thx for the input.

  14. Pete

    Apr 27, 2014 at 10:08 pm

    Dennis, do you come back to philly ever or nemacolin for the summer and give lessons?

    • Dennis Clark

      Apr 28, 2014 at 7:31 am

      Once in a while. If a few guys get a group together, Ill make the trip. But not regularly at a club.

    • Dennis Clark

      Apr 28, 2014 at 3:31 pm

      Did you work with me Pete? If so where?

  15. christian

    Apr 25, 2014 at 7:15 pm

    “The single reason why golfers don’t improve” followed by a lengthy article? Ok..How about stop obsessing about “knowledge” and equipment tech and get some practice in? The single reason is of course people don’t practice enough, and prefer to obsess over equipment. This goes for me too of course! Whenever I get to play more golf, I improve. Surprise…

  16. Travis

    Apr 25, 2014 at 10:51 am

    Dennis, you’ve peaked my interest with this article. However I live no where near Naples. Are there any “distance education” options for your learning experiment?

    • Dennis Clark

      Apr 25, 2014 at 5:19 pm

      I do some of that, but not sight unseen. We’d have to schedule a visit here for a session first, then we could arrange a distance program. thx

      • Travis

        Apr 26, 2014 at 5:12 pm

        It is somewhat likely that I’ll be in the Naples area in December or January so maybe it would be possible then.

        Something I found interesting about the article was the comment you made on finding new ways to practice. I’ve always enjoyed hitting balls on the range and working to become better but like many always found it difficult to hit the ball on the course as consistently as I do on the range. I realized last year I needed to change my range sessions so my practice was more deliberate and focused on improvement. Perhaps an article on how to practice would be a good topic? I’d really like to get more advice on how to practice effectively . Perhaps you could comment on my practice routines?

        At the start of last year I made a commitment to practicing at least twice a week but most weeks it was three times. My game had deteriorated the previous two years and I wasn’t happy. I worked on developing practice routines where I had to hit certain greens on the range a minimum number of times or start over. I did the same with longer clubs and hitting between targets to simulate fairways. I started working on alternating clubs driver-sand wedge, 3wood – pw and so on. This help me go from a 7.6 to a 5.2 index last year.
        This year I started utilizing four to five clubs in the routine such as driver, 3 wood, 3 iron, 7 iron, sand wedge for example. Not hitting any club more than one time, full pre-shot routine each time. It takes a long time to get through a bucket! At least twice as long as most people I see on the range. Its still early in our season so there are no results yet. My goal for this year is to get to a 3 index.
        As I said an article on effective practice would be really interesting and helpful. If it is not something you would want to publish is it possible to get advice via email? Thanks and keep the great articles coming.

        • Dennis Clark

          Apr 27, 2014 at 8:05 am

          great idea; ill do a piece on effective practice habits of the great players and how it might help the amateur.

  17. Dean

    Apr 25, 2014 at 8:58 am

    Hey Dennis, you want your students to learn the correct movements in golf and retain them get your certification through Rotary Swing. My students shape a proper golf swing. My lessons are an hour long and as long as they work on the fundamentals they retain it and FEEL when they know they have gone back to old habits.

    • Dennis Clark

      Sep 2, 2014 at 10:11 pm

      Dean, Thx for that input. How long have you taught for rotary, is it?

  18. tom stickney

    Apr 24, 2014 at 4:57 pm

    Couldn’t agree more Dennis! It’s tough to make people realize that the key to improvement is to make a higher number of correct reps not just the same swing. Without constant supervision it’s a challenge to do so for the student. Sadly over the years I’ve come to realize that the range is mainly the place people come to get their “exercise-” hitting hundreds of balls daily with no real plan or any fundamental introspection whatsoever…thus no improvement.

    • Dennis Clark

      Apr 24, 2014 at 5:40 pm

      Yes sir. I’m sure you see it everyday as I do. I’d rather see someone for 15 minutes 4 times a week than an hour once!

  19. Mikos

    Apr 24, 2014 at 11:32 am

    Finding my “balance points” has helped me tremendously. After running some numbers I discovred my driver “BP” is 21.5″- every other club is 15.5″. Those numbers are my stance widths.

    Another note: the “correct” positions dont work for everyone. You need to determine what type of golfer you are. There are lower core, middle core, and upper core players.For example- Hogan was a lower core player. Lee Westwood is a upper core. I discovered I was an upper core player. Before I learned this I was working on clearing my hips early. Then after learning upper core players clear their hips late I stopped working on that move and started to “swing free” hitting the ball more solid with more confidence.

    • Mike G

      Apr 24, 2014 at 12:54 pm

      This is interesting, how did you discover you were an upper core player and where did you learn about the diffrence?

  20. James Harvey

    Apr 24, 2014 at 6:21 am

    I completely dissagree with this article and have evidence to back it up!

    Last year, a good friend of mine, who is a teaching pro in London, gave me a quick five minuet lesson whilst we were playing together. It was quite a radical change as my takaway move was causing me lots of problems. He showed me the correct position I needed to be in and gave me a couple of drills. Since then I have worked hard on my position and the drills he gave me, 8 months later and everything is starting to feel natural and falling into place. I’ve gone from shooting high 80’s to mid 70’s – all from one five minuet lesson.

    The key is not the stye of teaching, the key is the student putting in the work and doing what their teaching pro has told them to do and, most importantly, sticking with it! I’m reminded of a friend of mine who, several years ago, had a couple of lessons to help improve his swing and drop his handicap down from 22. A few weeks after the lessons I asked him how it was going and he replied that he’d gone back to his old swing as the new one felt weird and he was shooting higher numbers! Had he stuck with the changes he wouldn’t still be a 22hdcp, some 4 years later.

    The problem is the average amature wants a quick fix, they want to see solid results in a few weeks, if not days! Most pros know that if they change their swing it can be several months, if not a year, before they start seeing the benefits.

    If you want to play like a pro (or as close to a pro as you can get) then practice like one! Don’t just beat balls on the range, do specific swing related drills, given to you by your teaching pro, and stick with it!

    • Dennis Clark

      Apr 24, 2014 at 5:44 pm

      Again my observations are based on thousands of cases. One or two isolated incidents dioes not a valid point make. Thx for reading.

    • Dan M

      Apr 25, 2014 at 5:04 am

      I agree with you Dennis Clark, the current way of doing lessons lessons usually has minimal benefit in the long term. James Harvey’s case is the exception that proves the rule.

    • David Lawson

      Apr 25, 2014 at 7:43 am

      What you have said actually backs up the author’s point, that it took 8 months of repetition of the new move to notice the change. This student actively took note of the new move and worked at it, which is what would be achieved with many, shorter lessons. The fact the ‘lesson’ only lasted 5 minutes is almost irrelevant, it’s the process of continually working on what you’re being taught until it becomes natural and that takes hundreds, if not thousands of reps consciously trying to achieve it. From what I understood the author’s point is that most people will not do this and just lapse into hitting balls with their old swing, whereas many short lessons would prevent them doing this.

      • Dennis Clark

        Apr 27, 2014 at 8:10 am

        Correct David; again I recommend a book called the “Talent Code” by Daniel Coyle. Or “the Little Book of Talent” by the same author

    • Workingman

      Nov 27, 2015 at 8:34 pm

      Because he was your friend he fixed your swing for free in five minutes lol. If he didn’t know you he’d charge you through the nose for as long as possible. I think most people would be better off asking a friend who is a good player for help than paying a pro.

  21. JB

    Apr 24, 2014 at 12:57 am

    This is a fascinating concept.. I love creative thinking. Everyone knows the definition of insanity, and many, especially higher handicap golfers, have been banging their heads against the wall for years, and if anything, have gotten worse, not better. Add to that the contemporary urge to fix everything with new equipment makes the learning curve even steeper. I know a few guys who I believe would improve markedly if I could just get them to use the same set up for a season or two. They would gain consistency, learn how to manage their misses instead of trying to buy 20 yards with a 46.5 inch driver, or a 300 dollar putter that makes every 5 footer. The reality is the twenty yards they get are deeper in the woods and with all the putters they buy (mallet, anser, long, short) they end up not being able to consistently hole a three footer, much less anything longer. This is where I feel technology has hurt golfers, as opposed to helping them.
    Dennis, I think your concept is quite good, and if I lived in southern Florida I would be quite interested. I do think that this would especially work for fairly decent players. Handicaps in the 5-10 range who have played a bit, have a good grip and know the mechanics of their own move. As I write this I’m thinking of me, I suppose. Last summer I had some tournaments coming up, and I just wanted to sharpen up a bit, but didn’t want to retool or spend a bunch of dough. I went to a local guy who was 50 bucks a half hour and proposed a couple of twenty five dollar 15 minute tune ups. He shook his head for a minute and then said “oh sure, why not”. We did it and it was just what I needed. A couple of suggestions that I could make use of and did. I played well in those events. That, of course is fine for a 7 handicap but a 20, probably not.
    I have a good buddy in Naples. I going to fwd him this. Excellent article.

  22. Cameron

    Apr 24, 2014 at 12:41 am

    I don’t teach. But I coach. There’s a world of difference between the two and until the mainstream industry recognizes the difference golf improvement will always lag behind.

    “Teaching is teaching” (from the comments above). Yeah, it is, but it’s not coaching. It’s first base at best.

    And maybe, just maybe, a bigger shift would be when the industry recognizes that the swing is only part of the learning puzzle.

    • Dennis Clark

      Apr 24, 2014 at 2:00 pm

      Both coaching and teaching are based on mastery of subject matter and communicating this to students. Both involve creating opportunities for self discovery. The current structure does not lend itself to coaching. My proposal addresses that. Thx.

  23. leftright

    Apr 23, 2014 at 8:03 pm

    Another article promoting amateur golfers spending hundreds of dollars on lessons they will never learn….not unless they hit hundreds of balls utilizing the very lesson that was just taught. From an observer standpoint and I have been observing golfers for 50 years most golfers get luckier the more they practice. If I or anyone else does not practice then you can expect inconsistent results no matter how many lessons you take. What I laugh at is the person who spends hundreds on a lesson with some well know teacher who will tell them exactly the same thing the $30 an hour guy tells you. It ain’t magic and golf is a very unforgiving game. Golfers get in a funk, get a lesson then hit 200 practice balls over the next few days utilizing what they were taught and miraculously improve. It is much easier to teach a good golfer than a bad golfer not unless a teacher wants to take a 60 year old guy who has been playing for 40 years and “change his swing.” Avoid them at all cost because it will end up costing you a second mortgage. Go with a teacher that will work within “your” boundaries, not “their” boundaries. You will know in the first 10 minutes of your lesson if it is worthwhile or not. Teachers who let their ego get in the way of the lesson might as well be an ebola virus, avoid at all costs. If you suck and most golfers do, spend your money of an inexpensive assistant club pro who can teach the basics. I saw Jim McClean teaching a guy at Doral one years (this is not singling out Jim, he’s a great guy) probably a 2-300 dollar lesson and Jim had absolutely nothing to work with. The guy was as coordinated as a sloth. Maybe golfers should recognized their “own” limitations. The game is not meant for everyone who wants to play. I have never heard a teacher say to someone, “I can’t help you” but it should be said a lot by instructors.

    • Dennis Clark

      Apr 23, 2014 at 9:03 pm

      Well, as kid who grew up in south Philly too poor to take any lessons, I hear ya. But I was a very good athlete who taught himself to play golf (and basketball). But in my 30+ years of teaching i recognize that some people are not as talented, perhaps picked up golf later in life, need direction and are happy to buy it. My article is a suggestion, obviously not for you. But I did have have 5 members who approached me and will enroll when I roll it out. And you may consider this aspect: There is NO CHARGE if your handicap does not meet agreed upon goals. I don’t change swings I change impact

  24. Dennis Clark

    Apr 23, 2014 at 1:30 pm

    Interesting comments from all…When i write about my experiences on the lesson tee, I do so from the perspective of a teacher. What I do or how I learned are totally irrelevant to this topic. I make these observations from years of teaching thousands of players. The reason for THIS piece was to suggest a new paradigm for learning, one that I’m rolling out next season. Its an experiment and anyone willing to participate should contact me. thx

  25. Scott Carns

    Apr 23, 2014 at 12:58 pm

    Great article. I’ve taken lessons on and off for the past 20+ years of playing and I think it comes down to the individual golfer as to what type and duration of instruction works best. I found that taking longer focused lessons (2 hour blocks). Worked best for me. When I did the 30/60 minute lessons. I found that it wouldn’t stick very well over time. For me it wasn’t about the money, it was about the quality of instruction and resources available for analysis. Living in St. Augustine, FL we have a variety of good professionals to choose from. I settled on training at TPC Sawgrass because I felt they had the best resources available to me. (Trackman, fitting center, video, etc.) I interviewed the instructors and selected one that fit my needs based upon his skill sets and personality. After that, I spent every Saturday morning for 2 hours with him for about 3 months. Playing and practicing on Sundays and throughout the week. We developed a plan, DOCUMENTED IT (very important) and then worked the development plan each week. If for some reason, I wasn’t able to practice the plan that week, we pushed it a week until I was comfortable with that piece of instruction. We would hit on the range and then use the video to help visualize the changes to my swing. We were able to hit a few balls, go into the video bay, make the adjustment, and then back to the range. While somewhat time consuming, everything stuck for me. We also would spend time on the range documenting things into a “Swing Notebook” that I carry in my bag when I play. When ever I’m in doubt or struggling with something, I refer to the notebook which then prompts me of the instruction. It all comes down to what the individual player needs. Also, I’m sure most professionals like the steady business and repeat customers. For all the money invested into our game playing and buying equipment annually, I think the smarter golfers balance that cost with good instruction.

    • leftright

      Apr 23, 2014 at 8:12 pm

      90% of golfers cannot afford your regimen at all and the other 10%, maybe 2% would even consider it. Basically you are speaking to 2% of all golfers if not less. I like WRX but I read from the forums unrealistic expectations from many. Most want to play twice a week and if they can practice once a week they consider themselves lucky. The game of golf’s survival is bent on those 90%, not on the 10% with the silver spoons. It also tickles me to see guys speak a 1 handicap while I know and most others they can’t bust an egg with the 400 dollars GD DI-6 in a flex they can’t handle, player’s blades with 130g x100 shafts and ProV1x’s when they should be playing NXT tours or a comparable model from any manufacturer. It’s not the guy with the new set of $3000 clubs I worry about, it’s the single digit with 6 y/o irons, worn wedges and maybe a fairly current driver with a stock shaft I worry about.

  26. joro

    Apr 23, 2014 at 12:06 pm

    Teaching is way over done. As a PGA instructor for over 50 yrs. I have found out one thing, it isn’t what you do so much as how you do it. What I mean is the “perfect” swing may not be perfect by standards, but perfect for you and your ability. A lot has to do of course with the amount of talent, or ability a person has to start with. You aren’t going to make a filet out of hamburger. It amazes me that these guys have made a business out of being a “guru”. A lot of them ruin more than perfect a person.

    Go to an Instructor you can relate to, learn to get a good grip and how to do it, learn the basics of the swing, practice as much as you can and have a touch up every so often. Go Play, that is where you find it and when you do reach the best you can be, enjoy it. The search for perfection is not found, you either have it or you don’t. Equipment is good, but that is not the answer, being realistic is.

    Some of the best players I know are people who play once a week, shoot in the 70’s, never had a lot of lessons, and just go play. They know their swings, trust it, and above all enjoy the game. The unfortunate thing is I have seen people like that after retirement start taking lessons to get better and totally lose it with confusion. Keep it simple and enjoy it. Butch Harmon to me is a great teacher, he takes what you have and works with it without changing your whole swing like so many who feel that is what they are for.

    Good Luck to all in your game, enjoy.

  27. Jeff Denig

    Apr 23, 2014 at 9:24 am

    I can only approach this subject from the perspective as a student of the swing – which I have been since my teens. I can relate two things – swings – whether bad or good – tend to be “learned” and “repeatable”. I remember being astounded in the VHS days to see that a swing flaw I had worked so hard to change (overswing) – when viewed on tape was still there even though I felt it had been conquered. I can also attest to the lessons that were forgotten or nearly forgotten within hours. I think most people can get into the right positions – providing the Pro is there to help and guide them. But as soon as the Pro is gone – they don;t know what the positions were or where they are. So they are soon back ot the old familiar feeling swing.

    Although I haven’t had a chance to try the equipment yet I think the MEGSA equipment would, significantly, shorten the learning cycle. If we can agree that folks CAN and DO develop a repeatable swing, albeit, terrible – then it stands to reason that they could build a good repeatable swing IF the had something to guide them into the proper positions without the need for constant coaching by a Pro. In manufacturing, if we desire to make a lot of something identically (swings) we build a Jig (MEGSA) which doesn’t allow for mistakes or irregularities. That way a less skilled worker (typical golfer) can make said parts as nearly identical as possible without the constant guidance of a Master Craftsman (Pro).

    Unfortunately, we don’t have any of the MEGSA or Similar Equipment within 5 hours of where I live – but the Business Model seems to be Purchase the Equipment and charge folks a monthly fee to use it. I can tell you that if it were available anywhere near me…… I’d be the first in line to learn a new repeatable swing sinde of a jig. I even wonder – for the PGA Pro going thru a swing change. Wouldn’t it greatly shorten the learning curve and allow them to “trust” the change much sooner. I think Jigs – Properly set up by a Pro with “Indexable” positions – based on body type – are the future of Swing Improvement.

  28. Dick Nastee

    Apr 22, 2014 at 7:34 pm

    I take lessons at the driving range as I’m sure most people do. Hitting off of an artificial turf mat doesn’t translate to hitting on real grass. Where I live we can’t practice on real grass to wire the brain properly on how to take a proper divot.

    Range King, Course Queen

    • Dennis Clark

      Apr 22, 2014 at 10:47 pm

      You’re right Dick. Mats give an “illusion of competence” because the club bounces off the mat and one almost never hits a fat shot. Real turf is best but if mats is all you have…keep swinging!

      • SBoss

        Apr 22, 2014 at 11:52 pm

        I’ve been teaching myself the golf swing over the last two years in an effort to get to a +0 handicap. I’ve progressed from a 15 to a 6 and strike it fairly well and really need more short game work. I watched hundreds of hours of video of PGA Tour players from all angles and in slow motion looking for the keys in all aspects of the swing. What do all great players have in common? They get to very similar positions at impact. Jim Furyk gets there one way and Phil Mickelson gets there another way. But, nearly all PGA players get have similar impact positions. So, let’s focus on getting to impact!

        In hindsight, now that I have a proper release and lag the club (after flipping over the top for years), I’d focus on teaching two areas: 1. The takeaway because a proper takeaway keeps you reasonably in a good spot at the top…2. IMPACT. Showing and demonstrating how impact feels and what it looks like is critical to great golf. If you don’t lag the club and achieve a good impact release, good to great golf is out of reach. Yes, you might catch lightning in a bottle every blue moon, but it’ll never last without a good impact position.

        If teachers would just focus on impact FIRST and then work backward showing how to get to that impact position…it would change golf for good and make learning the game 10X easier. What does great impact look and feel like? How does the left wrist get flat at impact and how do you achieve it? Teachers should have students take micro swings that focus on just good impact!
        Golf teaching always focuses on so many things that golfers simply get overwhelmed. And some teachers have biases that are not necessarily fundamentals…Most golfers are not going to spend the time and make the effort to really dive into and practice all aspects of the swing. It takes YEARS to really become great at golf….especially the way the game is taught by many today.

        Why do players not improve? They’ve sworn off instruction because its too complicated. And, if you’ve got poor technique in golf, you’ll never be that good. You can beat 10,000 balls a day and still not be good because you’ve got to impact the ball a certain way and if you don’t do it? Well, just look at your local driving range because it’s filled with people trying to improve, trying to stumble on to some magic swing key that will never happen…master the impact position and build it back from there. But, there is no question in my mind that IMPACT is the key to improvement in golf. Wish I’d known it a long time ago…

        • Jim Benjamin

          Apr 23, 2014 at 12:12 pm

          After I retired I decided to learn as much about the golf swing as I could. I worked in IT so I’m an analytical guy and needed to understand systems in order to properly diagnose problems. I felt that understanding the golf swing first was key to improving mine. I turned to the Golfing Machine method of Homer Kelly. His book is impossible to read (technical) but there are translations (easier to follow) out there. Homer Kelly explains the swing in terms of physics and geometry. He wasn’t a golf pro, he was an engineering assistant at Boeing.

          Once I understood the swing I could see it in every player. Now just because you understand something doesn’t mean you can do it. You still need help or a lot of self discovery and trial and error. Pros today teach positions and not the whole swing. Once you work on a position that’s where the focus is and your swing can suffer. I think that if teachers would explain how the swing works and what you need to work on in that framework would make it easier for both the teacher and the student.

          Too many instructions says you need a flat left wrist but you are only left with that position in mind. You don’t try to force your wrist to be flat. The dynamics of a swing creates the flat left wrist. When your arms speed through the swing powered by either the body turn or the swinging of the arms if the wrists are relaxed the pulling of the arms will create a flat left wrist with the club lagging behind.

          • j.a.

            Apr 27, 2014 at 4:10 pm

            Does Iron Byron worry about impact? Well, it makes a whole swing and it happens that the ball is in the middle of the swing trajectory. It doesn’t concern about the wrists as it has a loose hinge (wrist). Having said that, IMHO, I reckon it is important to master the whole swing from start to finish because bad positions in backswing or follow through will affect the middle of the road.

        • david

          Jan 12, 2016 at 1:22 pm

          only good response I’ve read here: impact and short game. I’m a 2 cap, and hit 10 greens in reg avg from 6500 yards. If I hit thousands of more balls this year at the range maybe I can improve to 12, maybe 13 GIR. But if I spend 80% of my time from 100 yards in, and chipping and putting, I can more seriously improve my scores. Real problem is, players do NOT practice short game…at all.

    • Jack

      Apr 23, 2014 at 12:57 am

      Yeah, but hitting the ball first as compared to hitting it fat on the mat is still a different feeling. The student needs to learn that feeling. The biggest culprit of course is casting, which is very counter intuitive to most beginners.

      I do love hitting off grass, as that’s a very different feeling, but hitting off a mat is not totally useless.

  29. Ben

    Apr 22, 2014 at 4:41 pm

    I absolutely agree with the long term learning concept. Over the winter I had a course of 10 lessons with the same professional at my local club. In that time he gave me something simple to work on each lesson which I then practised for a fortnight between lessons. Slowly, but, surely my swing has altered and is now much more consistent than it was and I’m hitting the ball much further and straighter. If I fell back into a bad habit he showed me at subsequent lessons.

    My last lesson was nine holes with the professional so he could see how I approach shots on the course. This was essential as he helped me correct some simple things (e.g. aim), but, also explained to me how different my swing was from the course to the driving range.

    I’m looking forwards to a summer of playing better golf and bringing my handicap down.

    • Dennis Clark

      Apr 22, 2014 at 10:49 pm

      Ben out of curiosity, did you pick up the game later in life?

      • Ben

        Apr 23, 2014 at 1:22 am

        Yes I did. I played rugby until my 30’s and started playing golf aged 33.

        • Dennis Clark

          Apr 23, 2014 at 1:12 pm

          The reason I ask is kids who pick up there game young, have less trouble “taking it to the course”. This who pick it up as adults, have two swings: The range and the course. Unfortunately.

          • Ben

            Apr 23, 2014 at 3:14 pm

            I would concur with that. For me it seemed like some sort of mental block which I’ve had to work through.

            Is there an issue that a lot of adults picking up golf later in life try to play without having lessons first, whereas kids will get taken to lessons by their parents?

          • Manny Martinez

            Apr 24, 2014 at 8:05 am

            Dennis can you please elaborate on your comment about having a range and course swing if you picked up the game later in life. I understand playing from an early age will enable the golfer to make the same sort of swings under pressure that they have repeated all their lives. But why is it that players who pick up the game later, can in fact develop the swing, tempo, rythym, in order to hit excellant range shots but not consistent course shots. In order to execute these shots on the course and gain confidence to pull the trigger under pressure we need to first be able to hit the shots on the range . Are these types of golfers not training their mental game at the same rate as the phsical swing and therefore the drop off om the course is related to that. Please advise.

          • Christopher

            Apr 24, 2014 at 12:43 pm

            @Manny Martinez

            I think the difference between the two is the physical body, younger players who play on courses all day long against other players know how to hit the ball ‘under-course-pressure’ that is with all the rushes of adrenaline and anxiety older players new to the game don’t feel on the range (to some young players the course is their range!), you can beat balls all day long on the range but there’s rarely any pressure to hit a good shot (you just rake a new ball over after a bad one). On course you’re going to have 70-80-90 shots under the gun and your technically-sound range-swing can’t deal with it (the problem can even get worse with your short-game and putting). If you play very seldom on the course but are a regular range goer. You know you might have only 1-2 chances to play a hole a month (or whatever) and you want to do it right (and you know how to do it right). Add all the elements that you don’t get on the range (bad lies, slopes, hazards et cetra) and it can be a recipe for disaster.

            To combat this you need to put yourself under pressure when you practice, whether it’s games you play with yourself or a competition with another player. Otherwise you’ll never get used to hitting shots with and adrenaline and anxiety (they’re not necessarily bad things).

            On-course visualization can help too, if you hit to yardage markers on the range and are competent at doing it, visualize them on the holes you play. If you want to go nuts, take pictures of the holes you play with your digital camera, add the markers in Photoshop and stick the pictures in your yardage book to help you before each tee-shot!

  30. Kyle

    Apr 22, 2014 at 4:18 pm

    I read an interesting article that it takes 5,000 repetitions until you ingrain something within you brain. So if you are trying to change the take away for example within your swing, you will need to do 5,000 repetitions until it is ingrained and perfect (as long as you have correct form).

    This was advised at home to start with away from the course, simply in your garage or front room and then moving on to hitting balls once you are more comfortable with the correct movement and a lot of repetitions in. It was highly advised against hitting any balls at all to start with.

  31. Jim Law

    Apr 22, 2014 at 3:11 pm

    Great article, this is a topic I’ve long been interested in: the process of learning and the points Dennis hit, why do I hit it like a champ after 5-10 minutes, yet a week later, I’m in a sea of swing thoughts and confusion. There has to be a better way to learn and unlearn. I’m anxious to try the 4 new barometer points Dennis made. I find myself bothering my teacher a few days / week later with questions. Thanks, Dennis.

  32. paul

    Apr 22, 2014 at 2:26 pm

    I always feel like I need a tune up lesson every spring and a another one half way through summer. I don’t take more lessons because it costs to much. $100/hour for an hour of someone’s time to get better at a game is to much. Do I pay $100/hour to get better at playing with my kid? No, and its still fun, and I am getting better at it to.

    • B-Dub

      Apr 22, 2014 at 2:34 pm


      Is it a cost issue…or value issue?

      Where I live, $100 is basically 2 rounds of golf. If I felt like I could play signficantly better after a lesson (and some range sessions to help ingrain the changes), it would absolutely be worth it if I played better the subsequent season.

      Where I think golf lessons are frustrating is that people spend the money and don’t feel like they improved. Sometimes it’s poor instruction. Sometimes it’s a student who doesn’t work to ingrain the changes. Whatever the case may be, it feels like 95% of lessons given offer little value in the form of tangible improvement.

      • simon bett

        Apr 22, 2014 at 6:24 pm

        So who is a ‘great’ teacher and who isn t ? I ve spent enough hard earned cash to be told 20 different things by different teachers.Completely screwed up my game and finally I went at it alone and got my hc down significantly.

      • Dennis Clark

        Apr 22, 2014 at 7:08 pm


        If there was a program offering guaranteed improvement or NO cost, would you enroll?

        • B

          Jun 3, 2014 at 4:11 am

          I would enroll in a guaranteed improvement program!

    • Dennis Clark

      Apr 22, 2014 at 7:06 pm


      Every golfer aspires to a different level and plays golf for a different reason. This article is mostly directed at golfers who prefer lessons but are not improving. My program guarantees improvement or there is no cost. Thx for the comments

  33. B-Dub

    Apr 22, 2014 at 2:20 pm

    Good article.

    I’d MUCH prefer to have a series of shorter lessons than the traditional 1 hour block.

    I also think the model of the lesson and expectation of instant feedback/gratification impedes the learning process. We’ve all been there. You show up on a lesson tee. You hit a few shots under pressure while the instructor watches. He/she then shows you what you’re doing in your swing and what they want you to do to correct it. You don’t quite understand the how’s/why’s…and it feels really unnatural. But you try it…and do a few drills with it.

    Then you take a few more swings with the ball. Both you and the instructor are praying you actually do it and the results are positive. Sometimes it is. Usually it’s not. Rinse and repeat.

    I always wish the instructor would take more time to help me understand the ‘why’s’ of the problem and how the solution will fix it. Saying ‘you just need to ‘ is as useless as asking me to levitate the X-wing fighter out of the swamp. But being able to practice some on my own, them come back and have him take a peek at it would be great. I’d much rather have three 20 minute lessons (where I could practice in-between) than one 60 minute lesson.

    But I understand from a business model perspective where that’s not ideal for the instructor.

    • Dennis Clark

      Apr 22, 2014 at 2:46 pm

      I always wish the instructor would take more time to help me understand the ‘why’s’ of the problem and how the solution will fix it. Saying ‘you just need to ‘ is as useless as asking me to levitate the X-wing fighter out of the swamp. But being able to practice some on my own, them come back and have him take a peek at it would be great. I’d much rather have three 20 minute lessons (where I could practice in-between) than one 60 minute lesson.

      This is exactly what I mean by providing learning opportunities. If you don’t know WHY you’re doing something it’s not going to stay with you. “IF” you do this, “THEN” you can expect this is a more long term learning dynamic. You totally “got” my point!

      • Stretch

        Sep 2, 2014 at 8:44 pm

        Love the x-wing reference. My lessons are based on a 2 hour time window. The best thing I can do in that time is to get the student’s swing go where the eyes are looking. When done the student’s natural athleticism will start hitting shots to the intended target. At that point instruction becomes going through the small things that get in the way of making golf shots. I see far too many students hit it good on the range and due to bad optical alignment can’t crack an egg on the course.

  34. 4pillars

    Apr 22, 2014 at 1:42 pm

    So how would you go about identifying a great teacher?

    The forum is full of posts form people who have gone on weekends with big names and either not benefited or even made their game worse.

    Incidentally according to April golf digest the average handicap for men gas gone down from 29.7 to 26.5 from 1991 to 2012

    • Dennis Clark

      Apr 22, 2014 at 2:42 pm

      But remember this: handicaps are only kept by “avid” golfers, and the real indices are lower than that. The VAST majority of golfers do not have a handicap. Off the top of my head….25 million or so golfers, perhaps 5 million handicaps! A great teacher is open to a variety of interpretations and criteria, but high on that list is one who gets results. Take part in my program and get a guarantee of lower handicap or money back.

  35. Gabe

    Apr 22, 2014 at 1:18 pm


    I couldn’t agree more. The parts of this game when I had an “aha moment” are definitely the ones that stick the most. I had a great instructor who was able to do just what you say, put me in a position to discover those things and cement them in my mind. Unfortunately, he is no longer in the area. I would love to find an instructor in the Philadelphia area who shares your approach to lessons. Got any recommendations?


    • Dennis Clark

      Apr 22, 2014 at 3:05 pm

      Well, because this concept is a bit “out of the box” I don’t know anyone in that area who might offer something like this. But I do know few good teachers.

  36. Kammer

    Apr 22, 2014 at 11:56 am

    Golf instructors need to have conversations with good classroom teachers.

    • Dennis Clark

      Apr 22, 2014 at 3:03 pm

      Agreed. That’s where I started; got my masters in education and carry many of the same principles onto the lesson tee. Teaching is teaching. Period.

  37. Jim Benjamin

    Apr 22, 2014 at 11:44 am

    I recently bought some new irons and while working with the pro on the simulator he asked me to release the club more during the swing. He said I was hanging on through impact and it was stifling my turn. I did and noticed a huge difference. Later on while playing I applied that advise and hit drives averaging 240 or better and even two of 284 and 290. Previously I averaged about 210-215. I’m also hitting my irons at least a club longer. My handicap has gone from 20 to 11. My previous lessons always focused on turning my body to release the club and I’m a big guy and can’t turn well or quickly. I now let my swing release my body. I whole heartedly agree with your philosophy. I think too many instructors teach a stock swing whether you can do it well or not. I may be an isolated case because I “get” things quickly and have better luck at keeping the feel. I know how the swing works, I even understand Homer Kelly’s teachings. I just needed to find what worked for me.

    • Dennis Clark

      Apr 22, 2014 at 11:56 am

      sure do. There is no “one swing”. Take at look at the best in the world!

  38. Double Mocha Man

    Apr 22, 2014 at 11:40 am

    This brings golf coaching for the masses into the realm of golf coaching for the touring pros. Someone to look at your swing or game elements almost whenever you need it. Makes a lot more sense.

  39. Dennis Clark

    Apr 22, 2014 at 11:26 am

    Exactly you got my drift entirely. A flat amount for a season, or a month and the student might get X amount of time (20-30 minutes?) as often as needed. If you are anywhere near Naples FL, my program will be rolling outsoon.

  40. John Malone

    Apr 22, 2014 at 11:14 am

    So what would the fee structure be for the “new” kind of lesson that you are proposing? Would it be a flat fee for a time period, $300 for unlimited access for a month? Or something different?

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Clement: This wrist position can add 30 yards to your drive



Drop the mic on how the wrists should load and be positioned for compressive power, accuracy, and longevity! There is a better way, and this is it!

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Short Game University: How to hit wedges 301



In golf, there is nothing harder than judging a flop shot over a bunker to a tight pin out of long grass. Why? Because there are so many variables to account for — in addition to what you can and cannot do with a wedge. In fact, up until very recently in the world of wedge design, we were limited to only increasing the landing angle to stop the ball, because relying on spin from this lie and this close to the green was next to impossible.

Now with the advent of things like raw faces, different CG locations, new groove design, and micro-ribs between the grooves, we can now spin the ball out of lies that we never could have done so before. This is not to say that you can now zip the ball back from these types of lies, but we are seeing spin rates that have skyrocketed, and this allows us to not open the face as much as we needed to do before in order to stop the ball.

Before we get into the shot around the green itself, let’s talk a bit about wedge design. For that, I called a great friend of mine, Greg Cesario, TaylorMade’s Staff Manager to help us understand a bit more about wedges. Greg was a former PGA Tour Player and had a big hand in designing the new Milled Grind 3 Wedges.

Cesario said: “Wedge technology centers on two key areas- the first is optimizing its overall launch/spin (just like drivers) on all shots and the second is optimum ground interaction through the geometry of the sole (bounce, sole width, and sole shape).”

“Two key things impact spin: Groove design and face texture. Spin is the secondary effect of friction. This friction essentially helps the ball stick to the face a little longer and reduces slippage. We define slippage as how much the ball slides up the face at impact. That happens more when it’s wet outside during those early morning tee times, out of thicker lies, or after a bit of weather hits. Our Raised Micro-Ribs increase friction and reduce slippage on short partial shots around the round – that’s particularly true in wet conditions.”

“We’ve been experimenting with ways to find optimal CG (center of gravity) placement and how new geometries can influence that. We know that CG locations can influence launch, trajectory and spin. Everyone is chasing the ability to produce lower launching and higher spinning wedge shots to help players increase precision distance control. In that space, moving CG just a few millimeters can have big results. Beyond that, we’re continuing to advance our spin and friction capabilities – aiming to reduce the decay of spin from dry to fluffy, or wet conditions.”

Basically, what Greg is saying is that without improvements in design, we would never be able to spin the ball like we would normally when it’s dry and the lie is perfect. So, with this new design in a wedge like the Milled Grind 3 (and others!), how can we make sure we have the optimal opportunity to hit these faster-stopping pitch shots?

  1. Make sure the face is clean and dry
  2. Open the blade slightly, but not too much
  3. Set the wrists quicker on the backswing to increase the AoA
  4. Keep the rear shoulder moving through impact to keep the arms going

Make sure the face is clean and dry

If your thought is to use spin to stop the ball quicker under any situation, then you must give the club a chance to do its job. When the grooves are full of dirt and grass and the remaining exposed face is wet, then you are basically eliminating any opportunity to create spin. In fact, if you decide to hit the shot under these conditions, you might as well hit a flop shot as this would be the only opportunity to create a successful outcome. Don’t put yourself behind the eight-ball automatically, keep your club in a clean and dry condition so you have the best chance to do what you are capable of doing.

Open the blade slightly, but not too much

Without going into too much extra detail, spinloft is the difference between your angle of attack and your dynamic loft. And this difference is one of the main areas where you can maximize your spin output.

Too little or too much spinloft and you will not be able to get the maximum spin out of the shot at hand. With wedges, people equate an open clubface to spinning the ball, and this can be a problem due to excessive spinloft. Whenever you have too much dynamic loft, the ball will slide up the face (reduced friction equals reduced spin) and the ball will float out higher than expected and roll out upon landing.

My thought around the green is to open the face slightly, but not all the way, in efforts to reduce the probability of having too much spinloft during impact. Don’t forget under this scenario we are relying on additional spin to stop the ball. If you are using increased landing angle to stop the ball, then you would obviously not worry about increasing spinloft! Make sure you have these clear in your mind before you decide how much to open the blade.

Opened slightly

Opened too much

One final note: Please make sure you understand what bounce option you need for the type of conditions you normally play. Your professional can help you but I would say that more bounce is better than less bounce for the average player. You can find the bounce listed on the wedge itself. It will range between 4-14, with the mid-range bounce being around 10 degrees.

Set the wrists quicker on the backswing to increase the angle of attack

As we know, when debris gets in between the clubface and the ball (such as dirt/grass), you will have two problems. One, you will not be able to control the ball as much. Secondly, you will not be able to spin the ball as much due to the loss of friction.

So, what is the key to counteract this problem? Increasing the angle of attack by setting the wrists quicker on the backswing. Making your downswing look more like a V rather than a U allows less junk to get between the club and the ball. We are not using the bounce on this type of shot, we are using the leading edge to slice through the rough en route to the ball. Coming in too shallow is a huge problem with this shot, because you will tend to hit it high on the face reducing control.

Use your increased AoA on all of your crappy lies, and you will have a much better chance to get up and down more often!

Keep the rear shoulder moving through impact to keep the arms going

The final piece of the puzzle through the ball is speed through the pivot. You cannot hit shots around the green out of tall grass without keeping the club moving and having speed. A reduction of speed is obvious as the club enters into the tall grass, but you don’t want to exacerbate this problem by cutting off your pivot and letting the arms do all the work.

Sure, there are times when you want to cut off the body rotation through the ball, but not on the shot I am discussing here. When we are using spin, you must have speed to generate the spin itself. So, what is the key to maintaining your speed? Keeping the rear shoulder rotating long into the forward swing. If you do this, you will find that your arms, hands, and club will be pulled through the impact zone. If your pivot stalls, then your speed will decrease and your shots will suffer.

Hopefully, by now you understand how to create better shots around the green using the new wedge technology to create more spin with lies that we had no chance to do so before. Remembering these simple tips — coupled with your clean and dry wedge — will give you the best opportunity to be Tiger-like around the greens!

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An awesome drill for lag that works with the ball!



Many lag drills have come and gone in this game because they have a hard time working when the ball is there! How many times do you hear about someone having a great practice swing and then having it all go away when the ball is there? This one is a keeper!

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