As we look at the new season, I’ve made a resolution to spend the equivalent of the price of a new set of clubs on golf lessons. While I have played well enough by reading and studying training videos, and with the occasional short lesson from a PGA friend of mine, I think I could be much better. I’m a 15 handicap most of the summer, but am convinced that I can get into the single digits (I’m led to this conclusion by some brilliant stretches of golf over the last couple of summers)
But here’s a question that has been vexing me: How do I choose a pro?
It is, I think, a bit like choosing a doctor. Only more complicated. If I were looking for a new physician, I would ask some friends, check certifications and consult with the Union’s medical insurance representative. I’d also make an initial consultation to see if I liked her (or him).
I could do some similar things while searching for a golf pro. But the golf swing is more complicated and varied than medicine. With all of the different “methods” out there, I think I’ve got to find someone whose swing philosophy matches my needs.
For my pro friend, for example, it’s all about the setup. He believes that if your grip, alignment and ball position are all good, you don’t need to worry about the actual swing. The pro at my club, on the other hand, teaches an “armsy” swing. There are one plane and two plane teachers; AJ Bonar disciples; X-Factor teachers … the list is endless. And I’m sure they’re all equally valid for different types of golfers.
What worries me is that I’ll go to a pro who will teach me his “method” but that the “method” won’t be the best one for me. Look at Tiger. He’s gone to both Harmon and Haney, and while both worked, Haney’s method looks to be the better choice.
So who do I go to?
I don’t really want to bother my friend (although he is a superb teacher), because he won’t take my money and what I have in mind is going to take some time. And I also don’t really want to use the pro at my club, because after taking a couple of lessons from him, I’ve decided that he’s just too nice. I want some serious criticism.
What I really need is a “general pro” like I have a “general physician.” If it’s anything other than a minor or routine ailment, my general physician takes a look at my overall condition, and then refers me to a couple of specialists. He tells me what the specialists are like, and I get to pick one.
A golf generalist would diagnose my overall condition and then send me to the appropriate teacher.
It’s a pretty tough conundrum. Does anyone have any thoughts?