Want to improve your scores? Cut strokes from your handicap index? Beat your buddies' brains in? Forget bout achieving these golf miracles with a new $400 driver or three days at a $3,000 golf school. Take a lesson from your local PGA pro instead. In fact, take one even if you think your game is perfect---you might be surprised.
A lesson with a PGA pro will cost about as much as a round of golf at a good daily fee course, but I guarantee it's the very best thing you can do for your game. Don't know where to go? Start with a phone call to the nearest golf club. Even if it's private, most club pros eagerly take on students who aren't members--and you'll get to use the practice facility at the course when you take your lesson, too.
I struggled on the course more than usual early this season, but for no good reason violated my practice of going for a lesson or two to tune things up before I did too much damage to my handicap in the spring rounds. I shot several scores I was ashamed to post (although I did) and was rapidly approaching a hara-kiri state of mind. That is not the way you want to start your golf year. I put the belly-slicer away, though, and went to see Rob Davis, head pro at Anglebrook Golf Club in Lincolndale, NY. I like Rob; he's an excellent player and a knowledgeable teacher. Because we're friends, I also knew he wouldn't pull any punches.
"What the hell are you thinking?" he said after watching me hit a half dozen balls, none of which went in the same direction. As I started to explain my lame-brained excuse for a swing thought, he told me to be quiet and address the ball. Before I could massacre another piece of turf, he put a tee in front of each my feet and told me to step away. Then he pointed to the position of the ball, which was exactly in the center of my stance. Even I knew that was the wrong place. I couldn't explain how it got there, either, although I had been consciously trying to make contact with the ball before the grass all year. As soon as I moved the ball forward to where Rob told me to put it (about in inch inside my left heel), good things started to happen.
It was a simple fix, but one I never would have figured out without another set of trained, knowledgeable eyes on my swing. With the help of Rob Davis, I knocked two points off my handicap index within the next month.
As time goes on, I'm sure some other little flaw will grow into a major carbuncle on my swing. When it does, you can bet the first dollar I spend to fix it will be with a PGA pro.
Dave Donelson, author of Heart of Diamonds a romantic thriller about blood diamonds in the Congo