I Don't Offer Miracle Cures

Dear Golfer,

I’ve just spent a few days away with family and friends. As usual I took my clubs and manged to get in a game of golf.

I was joined by my brother, a family friend and my girlfriend. Being the only golfer (also known as the ‘golfer guy’) it was expected that I coach and help my lesser experienced partners throughout the day. They probably expected some profound coaching idea that would ensure they play their best golf of their lives. But I don’t offer miracle cures – what I teach and offer is realistic and maximises the chances of playing well, it can’t guarantee it.

I don’t mind helping others (I really enjoy it) but I take an approach that may seem a little different. I don’t say much. I offer virtually no technical instruction and encourage the person to do all of the exploring and learning themselves. The easy approach would be to overload them with three or four technical ideas (like grip, backswing and downswing) and let them go.

Experience tells me this would make me look good (I know so much about the golf swing etc) but it wouldn’t help them. Instead my advice is simple and easy to understand. I’m a big fan of getting comfortable and then hitting the ball. Hardly a revelation in golf instruction, but the process seems to work.

The family friend hadn’t played golf in over two years, so there wasn’t much else I could do. By getting comfortable and hitting the ball his mind and body was relaxed and he made significant progress. He didn’t set the world on fire but he was pleased with how he played. Better still, he felt that he now could improve his play over time and had the enthusiasm to play more. Great!

My brother was a similar story. He struggled early on, trying many tips and techniques he thought were correct. When he relaxed and stop trying so hard he played much better. He finished the round off with a par and a bogey and was delighted to match me on one hole.

The big breakthrough came with my girlfriend. She is a good athlete, having played tennis and hockey at school. She doesn’t like golf that much (living with a golf nut she probably get more golf than she can handle!) and only plays once or twice a year. Clare also understands my learning process well, so doesn’t clutter her mind with needless thoughts about the swing etc. She just plays.

By the end of the round she was hitting the ball nicely. She made par on the 15th, bogeyed the 16th, birdied the 17th and bogeyed the 18th (after hitting two great shots). This is terrific golf for someone that rarely plays. By the end of the round her confidence was sky high and she was letting me know that she was keeping up with me. All great fun!

So while I didn’t offer my golfing partners anything amazing or miraculous, they left the course having a great day and had some good stories to tell. A job well done and much better than the alternative!

Good golfing,

Cameron Strachan

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3 Comments

  • Artful Golfer

    Reply Reply March 13, 2008

    Great story! Last weekend, I took my wife and kids (now 21 and 22) to a local 9-hole course. My daughter told us she wanted to come home from college for the weekend to celebrate her 21st birthday (Valentine’s Day) and play golf for the first time. Her boyfriend at school had just started playing. My wife has played twice before, once when she was pregnant with my son (22 years ago) and once when she was pregnant with my daughter (21 years ago). My son has played about 5 rounds. We arrived at the course without my wife or daughter ever having swung a club (in 21 years anyway). I had them play the entire round with a 7-iron. I told them to just hit the ball and when they got close to the green to just swing softer. They loved it and even got the ball up in the air a few times 😉 My wife even hit the ball over a lake on one hole. My son is a natural. Fun day.

  • Cameron Strachan

    Reply Reply March 13, 2008

    Hi Artful Golfer,

    Imagine if you’d done the opposite? Tried to get them to swing correctly and worry about their swing.

    I doubt they would have had as much fun and they probably wouldn’t want to play for another 21 years! Hopefully you’ll be able to enjoy many more of these outings.

    Well done!

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