|Posted on August 21, 2013 at 5:00 PM|
Back when I was a golf professional, I gave lessons to people with a variety of skill levels—single-digit handicappers, beginners, kids, high handicappers. And as much as I enjoyed collecting the money for the lesson—and believe me, I did—I truly wanted each student to come away from the 30-minute session with some tip or swing thought that would help their game—a grip adjustment, a better weight shift, or some short game or course management tip to help shave strokes. I could watch people hit golf balls for a few minutes and often identify their fundamental, master key problem, and then work toward fixing it. (Pro tip: if you are a golfer and really want to lower your score, spend twice as much time working around the green as you do the driving range. Nothing lowers scores quicker than mastering putting, chipping, and pitching.)
But despite my best efforts, there were some students that I knew were just never going to get it. Never. Ever. And, bear with me; this will have an application to custom install. I promise.
I had one student that I’ll call Bob, basically because his name was actually Bob. Bob was a Harvard business graduate and a successful accountant. He played several times a week, routinely carding scores in the 130 to 140 range. If you know nothing about golf, know that higher is never better, and par—the target score for a good player—is typically 72.
Where I was apoplectic when I didn’t break 80, Bob was thrilled when he broke 130. Seriously, I think Bob’s bad golf frustrated me more than it did him. And over time, his inability to improve started to wear on me. Each of his strokes over 120 was like another drip in some obscure Saw-like, Chinese water torture that I was subjecting myself to. And with someone so epically terrible, I was sure that I could make him better. I mean, there are like literally dozens of things that someone can do to drop from a million handicap to just an insanely high handicap. For the love of Bobby Jones himslef, if we could improve his game to just triple bogeying every single hole on the golf course, he would shave like 14 strokes off his game! Dammit, man! Going from the worst player at the club to just a terrible golfer seemed well within his grasp, and I was sure that I could help Bob get there.
During our first lesson, I asked Bob to just hit some balls so I could get a look at his swing. Remember that Seinfeld episode where Elaine tries to dance? That was more graceful than Bob’s swing. It was like a full body seizure, but with less coordination. After it just became too painful to watch him hit balls, I switched to having him work on some drills—one just throwing a ball to feel a proper weight shift. As in, pick up this ball and throw it as far as you can. Bob performed a motion that I assume was cocking his arm back behind his head and then lunged forward in some approximation of a throwing motion, but the ball flew to the ground a few inches in front of his feet.
I think the expression on my face was the dictionary definition for “W…T…F?!?”
Working with Bob was one of the most frustrating experiences I had as a golf instructor, and it was clear to me early on that he just did not have it in him to be even a bad golfer. Ultimately after a few lessons we decided that it wasn’t working and he continued on with his double-par ways.
In a way, working with Bob reminds me of dealing with some of our custom install clients. Click here to continue reading and to bring this whole rambling analogy thing home...