A big reason ams don’t get better…

…they are stupid… 😀

Just kidding, but it seems that way sometimes.

I posted this on Golfwrx, looking for some opinions and I thought I would share it with you. It happens all the time and it dumbfounds me every time.

…and I just can’t comprehend why it’s so hard.

Basically I am looking for some insight so I can make myself a better teacher. I see this one thing over and over again and it has nothing to do with intelligence.

I understand that given the choice between being comfortable and playing bad and being uncomfortable and playing bad…comfort wins every time.

I also understand the fear of change.

What I don’t understand is the complete lack of common sense from smart people when they get a golf club in their hand.

Here is an example of what I am talking about.

I am playing with my father in law and his friend. The friend knows I can play and knows I teach, so a few holes into the round he isn’t getting it airborne and asks for my help.

He is aiming a good 60-100 yards right on every shot. Standing right on top of if so his hands are 3-6″ inside his shoulders. He doesn’t come over the top, because he knew that was bad.

He massively rotates the club shut with no turn of the body to get it 45* closed at impact and nearly hits his front leg with the ball.

As you can imagine, he can only get high lofted clubs to do anything but rape worms.

He is in his 60’s and a little tiny guy, but he is athletic.

So I lay a shaft down in front of his feet to show him where he is aiming. He is astonished.

I then have him setup, I hold the club in place and have him let go of the club and let his hands hang down and he watches as his hands hang down 6″ outside the grip.

He hasn’t been able to break 100 even cheating in over a year.

I tell him to setup to his driver and I will tell him to get farther away and aim more left till I say good.

I get him lined up and he says, “No f-ing way this is right!”

My father in law backs me up and he reluctantly takes a swing. He pipes it 220 right down the middle with a slight draw.

After the flabbergast wears off, I explain to him there is an adjustment period. If he makes the same nasty compensation he has been making to attempt a good shot with the old setup…while using the new setup, the ball is going left…and he should expect some of that.

A guy who has not sniffed double digits in over a year plays the next 3 holes 2 over par with a par and two bogeys.

On the next tee he pulls one way left and then does it again. He says this new setup can’t be right, goes back to his old setup and resumes hitting shots more common at a bowling alley than a golf course.

After the round I said, “No judgments, but why were you so quick to abandon the change when it worked so well?”

He responded that empirical evidence aside, what I told him to do couldn’t possibly be right for him as evident that it was only able to work for a few shots. It wasn’t possible that what he was doing could be so different from what was correct and he just needed to do a better job of keeping his head down.

This is a man who is a very successful administrator with a post graduate degree. I told him what was going to happen, I proved to him the old setup was awful, I also proved the new one was spot on. He had his best 3 holes stretch in who knows how many years and a couple of bad shots (that were predicted) made him revert to the old way.

This exact scenario happens all the time and not just to me, but all teachers, good and bad.

What is the mindset that creates this and how can we all learn to work around it..or better yet, through it?

In case you guys cared, I made 7 birdies, an eagle and 2 bogeys. I missed a 10 footer and a 5 footer for eagle.

I am still searching for consistency, but I really look good some days.




  1. Calvin D

    “in case you guys cared,”

    Well, yeah. That’s one of the main reasons I read your blog: to see what kind of progress you are making. Not nearly enough news on that front. I have no idea how hard you are working or what kind of system you have devised. So, yeah I think we are interested.

    The post was great. That guy plays in my foursome. 🙂 Georgia Tech graduate engineer who stands with his back to the target and looks like he’s driving a wedge under his left foot. Worm burners and pop flies. Zero interest in changing because he could shoot in the low eighties when he was 30. Now he’s 75 and doesn’t have the strength to force through the impediments he’s set so he shoots 105. Maybe if you could get your guy to play a whole round with the ‘right toe back of left heel drill” that Flick and McLain love so much?

  2. Jim Dunlop

    Maybe it is related to the extent of the changes that are required. When I retired I took some lessons and basically the pro had me adjust a few things (good shoulder turn around a firm right leg was the biggest) and I worked on these until they became routine. My scores improved by 10-15%. Since then I’ve just tinkered with my mechanics and put much more thought and effort into my attitude on the golf course (see Fred Shoemaker and “Extraordinary Golf”). If I’d had to make huge changes would I have persevered? I don’t know.

  3. wally

    A right handed player who is right eye dominate will always shoot to the right unless he compensates for his imagined line. A right handed player who is left eye dominate will hit where he is lined up. Understand how your dominate eye plays a role will change everything

  4. s.

    Great post.

    Why amateurs don’t get better…first virtually all golf instruction deals with how you should look rather than what you should do, or what you should feel. Concentrating on positions and body parts means that golf is not a fluid move.

    Then, as people advance in years, they may not have the flexibility or fitness to make the same move that the pro is making. From what I see, the pro is twisting and un-twisting his torso, creating a rotary move to the ball (like a baseball batter). What if the amateur is restricted to making an up-and-down or back-and-forth move? Then, it’s probably gotta be all wrist-cock. Which is harder on the body.

    Or, what if he has the fitness and flexibility, but has no clue of what the goal is? Look at all of the golf instructional terms that encourage linear thinking: backswing, downswing, parallel at the top, parallel halfway back, shaft plane, weight-shift, lateral move, spine angle… And, the two views of pros that we see most (what they call face-on, and behind the golfer on the target-line) don’t illustrate the rotation very well.

    And then, there’s the natural instinct to use your hands first. And, if not your hands, certainly your arms or shoulders.

    Maybe golf should take a clue from baseball and teach the windup and the delivery. At least physically-fit newbies would have a chance.

  5. bobs34

    Bottom Line up front: IMHO It’s all about reconciling a new feel(s) with your thought process.

    This make take some space but please indulge me as I try to provide an honest answer from someone that started playing late in life, 25 shooting in the low 100’s, been through every single teaching philosophy, knows way more technical crap about the swing than anyone should but finally after almost 25 years is on the cusp of playing scratch golf and enjoying the game more than ever before;

    You as a teacher also need to know what their thought process is in order to provide changes they need to make.

    I’m going to use the one lesson I’ve had with Monte as an example because that’s what eventually got me to where I am. Basically Monte wanted me to have more of a shoulder driven one piece take-away. I was starting the club back with my hands. I worked on this and had some decent results but evntually fell away from it because the way I was turning my shoulders didn’t allow me to get the club up on plane so I would stand up, over turn, and get the club way across the line at the top and the couple of thoughts/examples Monte provided didn’t marry up with my thought process. I also had preconcieved notions from years of bad previous lessons. I started working on things I didn’t need to. I sucked. Then one day about 5 months ago now, I went back to that lesson and just tried figure out how to turn my shoulders so the club would go back & UP on plane and get to the top without me having to move my hands first to get the club going up instead of behind which is what happened when I just turned my shoulders. It finally clicked, I simply rocked my armpits back and through. Bear in mind, I had to get rid of some preconcieved notions to reconcile that feel with my thought process. I’m now doing exactly what Monte told me over a year ago and playing great golf but I still had to kinda figure it out for myself. My league partner who also reads this blog has exactly the opposite issue, if he just rocks his shoulders, his hands and arms go up but there’s no shoulder turn to go along with it. The teacher has to get into the mind of the golfer to understand how to get the golfer to reconcile his thoughts with the physical feel of what they need to do.

    When a golfer says “that can’t be right” even though all of the evidence tells you without a doubt that it is, it’s because there is something in the thought process that doesn’t marry up with the feel and/or what they’re seeing. Understand the students thought process so you can provide examples of different ways to do the same thing that are applicable to that individual. That’s a really tough thing to do and at least Monte tries to do that. Some teachers don’t even try. They blame it on some physical attribute of why a student can’t do what they ask them to do. Most golfers aren’t stupid but they can be really stubborn. Sometimes you may have to tell a golfer he needs to make 4 changes all at once just so he has the right attitude; He may think to himself, 4 changes should feeel really different instead of why does this one change feel so radical.

    • meateater

      Monte, you have to face the fact that some people are just plain stubborn. They’d rather be wrong than accept something from someone they might have an issue with.

      This is where video helps a lot. It’s far better to show someone what they’re doing and have them diagnose the fault, with your help, than just tell them they’re doing it wrong.

      Also, just because someone doesn’t accept it right then doesn’t mean they won’t eventually realize you’re right. I got a lot of tennis coaching at one point in my life. Sometimes, months later, a point would click in and I would really understand what the coach had been telling me.

    • s.

      Armpits…a great idea. Armpits aren’t capable of doing anything, so are a result rather than a cause. An interesting way of letting your body do the job without interference.

      That way, a lot of good things can happen automatically.

      • bobs34

        Yup. I feel like I’ve found the “SECRET” 🙂 First time in my life I haven’t changed anything since stumbling on to this trying to do what Monte was wanting me to do. But, like I said above, this advice for my team mate is dissaterous. When he does it, just his arms move up and down with very little shoulder turn. His thought process is different than mine.

      • Calvin D

        Bobs34, maybe you use a slicker deodorant than your team-mate. 🙂

  6. Calvin D

    Another thought on this. I play with some who come to the course every week with a new swing and new hope. Guess what? They have the same funky swing they’ve had for years. They think they’ve changed but haven’t. I may be one of those guys.

  7. Lawrence (parteeboy)

    It’s very simple.

    a. Everyone wants to learn.
    b. No one wants to be told they’re wrong.

    Don’t bother telling them what they’re doing wrong. Next time they ask you for advice, just tell them “this is how I do it” and let them follow you instead. It will be a struggle because you can’t tell them what they’re doing wrong but they will eventually get it. Reinforce with praise every time they get something right so they keep doing it but avoid saying anything when they do something wrong. This is true in golf as with most other things in life.

    Try it. It really works. I am no expert as I am still continuing to learn to consistently do this. It is very difficult because it is also human nature to want to correct others specially if you’re more skillful. After all, it is the fastest and most efficient way to communicate your ideas. Unfortunately, it is almost always never effective.

    If you do try this, please promise me you will share any new insights with me as I also need a lot of help in this department.

    • meateater

      Very insightful. On a lot of levels.

    • s.

      Um…I hope Hank Haney reads this.


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