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Friday, May 23, 2014

Do You Have a Coach AND/OR a Teacher?

Taking regular lessons from a PGA professional is the single best thing you can do for your game. Once you’ve learned the basics, though, it may be time to change your student/teacher relationship to player/coach. “Teaching and coaching are two different things,”  says GlenArbor GC Director of Golf Rob Labritz. “With a beginner, you teach them the basics of the golf swing. With a more experienced player, coaching how to play the game of golf becomes more important.”

Tom Willson with Rob Labritz
photo by John Fortunato
Labritz, by the way, is speaking as a player, not a coach. The four-time PGA Championship competitor and 2103 Met PGA Player of the Year has worked for thirteen years with Tom Willson, who retired last year as head professional at Bonnie Briar CC. The two met in Florida. During the season, Labritz sees Willson about once a month but frequently sends him videos of his swing for commentary.

“There is no one perfect swing,” Willson points out, “but there is a perfect swing for Rob.”

“We talk about strategies, too,” Labritz says. “We’ll work on different lies and how to get the club on the ball to make it do what we want.”  They have worked tougher enough that they can even talk about course situations over the phone and come to conclusions about what Rob needs to do. At big tournaments like the PGA Championship, Willson will often travel with him and accompany him on practice rounds.

When it comes to the player/coach relationship, Labritz says, “It’s more than the golf swing. You get to know how people think, how they feel, how their emotions act on the golf course. Once you get to that point, the trust grows.”

Trust your coach, trust your swing—your game is bound to get better.

Among many other books, Dave Donelson is the author of Weird Golf: 18 tales of fantastic, horrific, scientifically impossible, and morally reprehensible golf

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