After struggling through the spring and summer with poorly stuck shots that flew high and short, I finished the fall by playing some of the best rounds of my life. The ball flew long and straight, and I threatened to break into the seventies nearly every time out. On one round, I was just a thirty foot putt away from that elusive 79. On another, on a tough course, I played the front nine in just four over (and collapsed on the back, but that’s another story).
I credit the turnaround in my game to an early fall lesson from Michigan PGA Hall of Famer Dave Kendall. Kendall runs the Kendall Academy of Golf at the Miles of Golf facilities in Ypsilanti/Ann Arbor, from which he is frequently ranked as one of Michigan’s top teachers. Kendall’s also a top player. He has won two Michigan Senior Open Championships, the Michigan Senior PGA Championship and has won the Michigan PGA Senior Player of the Year Award.
It was an unusual lesson from the beginning. Rather than immediately launching into practice shots, video recording and swing tips, Kendall sat me down to talk about my game. He asked about goals, attitudes, and my thoughts on golf in general. Then he inquired about how my typical round developed. He asked me to describe my general sequence of shots on par threes, fours and fives.
Using the information I gave him, Kendall worked with some numbers and then told me how I could break 80 by making just a few changes to my game. I needed to make x number more greens in regulation, which meant that I needed to improve a couple of specific types of shots.
That’s when it hit me. Dave Kendall is a GOLF instructor, not merely a SWING instructor. He was concerned primarily with getting me to score better, not swing better. The swing, he said, is just a means to an end.
Kendall gave me advice on how to approach my game, on what aspects I should concentrate, and on how to stay positive throughout the round. Only after we had our long discussion and analysis did we move on to the swing.
Even that aspect was not the usual golf pro faire.
“There is no one way to teach the golf swing,” Kendall noted. “Teachers sometime have a model player in mind but there aren’t any who fit that model.”
“Tiger Woods, perhaps.”
Kendall watched me make a few swings with an iron, and recorded a couple with the V1 system. He studied the ball flight. Kendall knew what was wrong even before showing the video, but did so that I could see what was wrong. There was not, however, a long involved analysis comparing my swing to that of a pro, with lots of computer generated lines and angles charted out on the screen. I was thankful. I have had lots of those types of lessons in the past and all they did was leave me feeling inadequate.
Kendall then made a couple of small adjustments to my stance, ball position and takeaway. He also gave me a couple of drills involving a chair. No one of these elements was complicated, but in sum they had a very different feel. The extent of those changes, Kendall said, were an exaggeration, but necessary to start a sort of chain reaction that would help the rest of my swing on the shots I needed to make to score better. He worked with me on some two score swings, making slight adjustments with each.
It was in the end, fewer swings that I think I had ever made in a golf lesson. But Kendall’s method was right on target.
Trying to make those adjustments, I played poorly the next two times out, but then it all clicked. Throughout October and November, I have been hitting the ball very consistently, with long, penetrating, straight results. I’ve added twenty yards to my iron shots over my summer performance. I’ve added thirty to my drives.
More importantly, I have been on a scoring binge. Kendall’s focus on a few simple changes—rather than trying to rebuild my swing to model some pro’s—has improved the small parts that were missing from my game.
Kendall’s rates are not cheap at around $100 an hour. That’s a lot of money for this Golf Blogger. It is, however, cheaper than that new set of irons that falsely promises to improve my game, and not much more than a similarly trothless new driver. Based on my experience, a lesson from Dave Kendall is great value.
Kendall’s expertise has helped me play great golf this fall. I just hope that I can pick up again where I left off after the long winter’s layoff.
And speaking of winter layoffs, the Kendall Academy has a great program to help you over that hump. From an Kendall Academy press release:
Golf’s best players never stopping working on their swings, especially in the so-called off-season. That’s when they often spend the most time with their teachers, making changes or fine-tuning their swings.
Good players who want to get better have that same opportunity to spend the off-season getting individual instruction from some of the best teachers in the game at the Kendall Academy at Miles of Golf in Ypsilanti.
Champion players who are also top teachers comprise Kendall Academy and they have all the latest technical tools to show their students what they’re doing and measure their progress. Whether there’s snow or sleet, the Kendall Academy uses heated hitting areas so students hit live shots and not into nets.
“It’s a common misconception that our teachers are not active in the winter,” said Tom Harding, longtime instructor at Kendall Academy. “In fact, we stay busy with new and returning students aiming to make improvements for next season. That’s the impetus behind our Fall/Winter Lesson Program.”
This program is specifically designed for those players who would like to use the Fall and Winter seasons to work on skill development. It also has some very attractive pricing advantages.
When a player buys a series of four (4) lessons, they receive a fifth lesson free. If a player buys a 5/4 Lesson Series, between October 1 and November 30, 2013, they will receive a 6th Lesson FREE, if all 6 lessons are completed by March 1, 2014. KA CLUB Members will receive a 7th Lesson FREE, if all 7 lessons are completed by March 1, 2014.