I went to the Carolinas P.G.A. show this past Monday and Tuesday to attend our annual meeting and to see Hank Haney speak at our section teaching summit. I thought it was great to hear from one of our premier instructors who teaches the best player on the planet (Tiger Woods) and the worst (Charles Barkley). This post is as much for the teachers (if any teachers read this I am flattered) as for the players. I think understanding what makes a great teacher can help you in your search for a teacher to work with. If your teacher or coach doesn’t have these qualities or isn’t working to improve, find another teacher! This post is also for the student that hasn’t worked with me and wants to get some insight on what to expect. Here are some hightlights from Hank Haney ; I thought Hank was very entertaining with several great stories of Tiger, Shelby Futch and the like which helped to get his point across. His keys were a great reminder of the things that I strive to do as a coach and how I try to treat my students. Here are some keys to being a great teacher:
1) Building your knowledge base- Everything that I know has come from one of three areas:a. reading books written by great teachers, observing or talking to other great teachers or experiences through teaching a ton of lessons. Hank stressed the fact that we don’t have to reinvent the whole teaching model. There are plenty of great teachers that you can learn from and copy then add your own style to it. Hanks mentor was the great John Jacobs.
2. Have a Plan and stick to it – This is great advice for young teachers and players alike. Once you make the diagnosis of your problem, stick to the plan and be confident in your solution. I tell my teachers to make a decision and own it no matter what. The student may not get it right away, but if you know it is the right change, stay with it and it will pay off. Most students are guilty of trying something and switching when it doesn’t work right away. BE PATIENT, CHANGE IS HARD.
3)People only remember 10% of what you say. When I first started teaching, I tried to tell every student everything that I knew, which wasn’t much. As I have gained more knowledge over the years, I try to talk less and less during a lesson. Repeating the 2 or 3 key elements over and over until they get it. Hank stressed this a lot. Meaningful suggestions followed by lots of manipulation for feel and video to back up the facts (this is how I do it)”They won’t care how much you know until they know how much you care” – Davis Love Jr.
4)Ask the right questions and build a relationship: I think I got this from Hank years ago but one of the most important questions that I ask a student for the first time is “Where does your worst shots go”. This is the shot that I try to get rid of first. Whether it’s a slice or a hook, doesn’t matter. Try to create a one-sided miss.
5)Understand Ball Flight and what causes it: This was a big one and has to be one of the first thing a new teacher and a good student needs to have. The first thing I do in a lesson is look at ball flight. Then I work backwards from there. Impact, Club face, Club shaft etc. Hank mentioned the importance of the club face and how it was responsible for 75% of the starting direction of the golf ball. Does this sound familiar (D Plane anyone). Those of you that follow me know how important the club face is and I applaud Haney for stressing that point. Change the club face first is the best advice I can give to any teacher or player that is trying to fix their swing. Hank discussed the 3 ways to change it: grip, hands at top of swing, release, (sound familiar: see last episode of Guru TV).
6. Hank talked about the bottom of the swing. Pay attention to where the club is striking the ground (behind, at the ball or in front). This will help you with angle of attack and impact positions.
7. Swing Plane: Early in Hanks’ career he was known for only teaching swing plane and that has obviously changed with his stressing the clubface and impact. Swing plane is important he says, “It helps with the contact of the ball and club face.” Too much out to in you get more toe shots and toe deep divots and too much in to out produces more heel or fat and thin.”
8. The last thing Hank looks at is what the body is doing. Set-up and posture are key and helps to develop a proper pivot.
He said that you can ask him anything except for the obvious “elephant in the room” (When is TW coming back) but I will share one story that he told about Tiger. This reminded me of a few of my students. Tiger has a 2 shot lead after 2 rounds of the Byron Nelson Classic when Hank decides he wants to make a grip change to help him release the club differently. So he took a risk (very confidently) and told Tiger that he wanted to make this change. He put Tigers hands on the club and Tiger says,”really Hank, I don’t think I can even hit the ball this feels so bad (none of my students would say anything like that, right). So he hits a shot and it makes the best impact sound and is a perfect shot. So Hank puts his hands on the club again with his new grip. Tiger says once again,” Hank, I don’t think I can hit like this.” Hank says,”What do you mean, you just did it so try it again.” So Tiger proceeds to pure it again. He looks back at Hank and says,”You know, I think we will go with this grip.” His point was this: A change is only a big deal if you make it a big deal. Let me repeat that for all of you players out there. A CHANGE IS ONLY AS BIG AS YOU MAKE IT. IF YOU TRUST THAT IT IS THE RIGHT THING TO DO, THEN GET ON WITH IT.
As an instructor, I always say,”I am not in the business of making your swing change feel comfortable, I am here to make you better and that is what I do.”
I will leave you with Hanks Plan for success: whether you are a teacher or a player, keep this in mind:
1. Eliminate the critical ball flight mistake
2. A Good Drive is one that you can find (eliminate penalty strokes)
3. No 3 Putts!!!!
4. No 2 chips or 2 pitches
******My new favorite Training Aid is The Orange Whip here is the link www.orangewhiptrainer.com
This is a good place to start with your students or your teachers and oh yeah, “Don’t forget To Breathe”
See you on the lesson Tee and Mr. Haney, If you happen to be reading this blog, “Thank you for sharing and I will be sure to pass it on someday or maybe I just did”