Take Your Lessons to the Course

I’ve been fortunate in my teaching career in that I’ve taught several top pros on Tour as well as some of the nation’s best up-and-coming amateurs. But, the majority of my students are amateur golfers looking to get a leg up in their regular foursome or compete in a local event.

Each student is different and I truly enjoy the time I spend with each of them on the course or at the practice range, but my real reward is hearing a success story and knowing our hard work paid off. And that’s exactly what I received from one of my amateur students – Jim Vance.

Jim sent an email to me that I thought I’d share as it’s a good example of how hard work and confidence in ones game can yield inspiring results. Take it away, Jim.

“I recently played in my club championship back in Cincinnati. Like most clubs our championship is dominated by top college golfers; people like me that are 52 with a full time job generally don’t have a shot. I had a pretty good qualifying round and was the seventh seed out of 16 in the open category, meaning no handicaps. The six players above me had either won the club championship in the past, played collegiate golf or in a USGA event.

I beat my first round opponent with a very good short game and two nice sand saves. There was one putt to even the match you would have been quite proud of!

My next opponent was a 21-year-old three-time club champion, who two years ago simultaneously held ours and another club championship. More importantly he played in the 2011 US Amateur. He plays to a plus 2 handicap and was a four year captain of his college team. Nobody gave me a shot.

On a day when I didn’t my best ball striking I took him to the 18th hole. You would be proud because on the 18th hole I hit it in the sand leaving myself a almost 40-yard bunker shot with a precarious back pin placement. I followed the Utley Method and hit it to about 4 feet for a nice downhill putt. The entire gallery was in awe. Our club’s entire pro staff was watching and they now refer to me as Gary Player. I am still getting compliments today, nearly a month after the shot! I tell them I owe it all to you. I must admit, though, that I’ve spent a lot of time this summer practicing the techniques we worked on last time I had a lesson.

Ultimately, my opponent sank a 35-foot birdie putt on 18 for the win. No one thought I had a chance. I knew if I could improve my putting and refine my short game I could challenge some of these guys but wow that was amazing – especially on a day when I did not have my A game.

I won’t bore you with a couple of bad breaks or other stuff. But, I should mention the 50-yard pitch to two feet for birdie on a Par 5 that was exactly what we worked on the last time. I really want you to know how much enjoyment and satisfaction I have gotten out of reading your books and with our one-on-one lessons.

You can be assured if I am back to Phoenix I am coming in for a tune-up!”

Keep up the great play, Jim. And, if you do ever find yourself back in Phoenix I’d be happy to help take another look at your swing to see how you’ve progressed.

As an instructor these are exactly the type of stories I like to read. I feel a great sense of accomplishment knowing that my students are having fun on the golf course. If any of you have a story you’d like to share, whether you’re a student of mine or not, I’d love to hear it.

That’s it for now. I hope you have a chance to get out and play this weekend!