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 »  Home  »  Regional Editorials  »  Long Island, Metro NY  »  NY Golf Intruction
NY Golf Intruction
By Terrence Jordan | Published  06/29/2007 | Long Island, Metro NY | Unrated
Golf Instruction - Spring Issue
Be a Better Student
by Jason Peterson

    You might want to consider the dynamic between student and teacher as you plan your 2007 golf season.  Many avenues are open to someone trying to improve their golf game.  You can search for a respected and successful golf instructor, pay top dollar, and attempt to correct your entire golf game as soon as possible.  Another approach would be to take hundreds of hours of instruction and hope that something clicks somewhere along the line.  The road to golf glory is littered with golfers that have tried these instructional methods.  Most often, they don’t work because they don’t take into account the personal nature of the student-teacher relationship.

    My suggestion is to evaluate both sides of the equation before setting a plan with your PGA Professional.  Make an honest attempt to find out what type of student you are.  Are you the type of person that will be more committed to learning a skill or to the idea of shooting lower scores?  Improving your skills is a difficult thing to do.  It requires practice, effort, and attention.  Just thinking and hoping any given round will be different isn’t going to help.  Anything your instructor will ask you to change in order to swing, putt, chip, and score better must be learned before they will make you better.  This is why receiving instruction from the greatest teacher in the world does not guarantee success, nor does receiving an extremely large volume of instruction.

    The first thing you can do to become a better student is commit to the process of learning.  You must then make an attempt to understand your current set of skills.  Armed with these two things, you should soon be able to determine how high you want to set your goals for improvement. 

    Now that you have examined your side of the relationship, turn your attention toward your instructor.  Spend some time speaking with a PGA Professional. Explain what it is you would like to accomplish.  Ask questions about how to best approach your goals.  Get feedback from your teacher and compare it with your knowledge of how you respond to change.  You should seek out an instructor that fits what you need.  Don’t force a student-teacher relationship! 

    When you have found someone you can work with, the next step is to both agree on a plan of action.  Work on learning the necessary skills, make the necessary changes to your game, and take responsibility for learning in doses that you can handle.  Try not to let things progress if you haven’t grasped a vital concept completely and expect the same from your instructor. 

    Be aware of the dynamic between student and teacher, get actively involved in a plan for improvement, and commit to change.  This will lead to better  golf and lower scores.  Good luck in your quest for improved play.

Jason Peterson
is a PGA Professional at The Mill River Club.

Identifying Your Learning
by Mike Hebron

Dr. Cary Mumford, author of Golf’s Best Kept Secret, suggests that golfers fall into four learning styles. At times, we move from one style to the next. While there is no study that gives strong support for the use of learning styles, I have found people do have a preference for information when learning.
    1. Driver/Doer
    2. Feeler/Craftsman
    3. Observer/Persuader
    4. Analyzer/Thinker

The more you can learn about your preference for learning information, the more useful your approach to learning will be.
Dr. Mumford believes that identifying your learning style is not as difficult as you may think. Students who are drivers/doers like to learn by trial and error. They like to do things rather than hear about things. They do not read directions when assembling things. During golf instruction, the driver/doer will not be very patient.

People who are feelers/craftsman are somewhat like the driver/doer but will have more patience. Feelers/craftsmen do not read direction but take more time to practice what the instructor has told them (the driver/doer does not have the patience for practice). Feelers/craftsmen listen very carefully, drivers/doers do not. The feeler/craftsman will have a sounder understanding of what the instructor has said than will the driver/doer.

People who are persuaders/observers will attempt to copy. They read directions but also rely on mental images. They like to have the instructor demonstrate so that they can observe. If they feel they are not getting enough information from observing, they will read about what they are trying to learn. Often this type of golfer has built a very good swing but has overlooked some details.

The analyzer/thinker wants to read directions. They like to analyze things. They like to have answers for everything they do. Drivers/doers couldn’t care less why things happen. They just want them to happen. The analyzer/thinker likes “how-to” books, whereas the observer/persuader likes visual instruction. The thinker/analyzer is looking for perfection, while the driver/doer and craftsman/feeler just want to get the job done any way they can.

My suggestion is to keep in mind the descriptions of the different learning styles as you are developing your approach to learning and playing golf. You could also take into consideration whether you tend to be either a left-brain or right-brain learner. Studies have shown that one side of the brain, left or right, is our dominant side. Left-brain learners, in general, tend to have logical and sequential skills, whereas right-brain learners have artistic and visual skills.

Bio-feedback results at the Institute of Denver, after administering E.E.G. tests to more than 400 people, found accountants, chemists, lawyers, and mathematicians were clearly left-brain dominant. Artists, musicians, and athletes were right-brain dominant. It also was found that classical musicians were more left-brain than expected, but that rock musicians were more right-brain. Lawyers who were involved with contract law were more left-brain, whereas criminal law attorneys were more right-brain.

The left side of the brain tends to work with words, and the right side of the brain tends to work with pictures. To have this kind of insight would help any approach to learning. Try to determine what type of learner you are, and you’ll be on your way to being a student of the game.

Mike Hebron is a PGA Master Professional who is the Director of Golf at Smithtown Landing CC and Palm Beach Polo Golf & Country Club.

Fight The Fescue
by Tim Garvin

One of the most beautiful aspects of our East End courses is that we are blessed with something called fescue grass.  This grass looks great adorning the borders between fairways, and it almost comes to life with a little wind.  The problem with all of this beauty is that we often hit our golf balls into it.  Visual beauty can quickly give way to anger and frustration.  If your ball finds its way into the fescue grass, there are a few things that you can do to get out. 

First of all, you can always declare the ball lost and play another from the original spot (taking a penalty in the process).  If you find the ball and choose to play it, here are a few things you should do.  During your set-up, take a lofted club like a wedge or a 9-iron and aim for the shortest distance back to safety.  Keep in mind that it may be backwards or away from the hole.  The goal here is to avoid a huge score on the hole by getting the ball back to the short grass.  Place the ball in the middle of your stance and take a few practice swings to get used to the lie.  The shot should be played similar to a bunker shot.  Just like the sand, the long fescue will slow the club down.  Keep your head still, take the club up through the grass, and swing hard down on a point just behind the ball.  Any lateral motion will allow more grass to wrap around the shaft of the club and you will lose speed very quickly.  Your follow through will be shorter as the grass slows the club to a stop, so make sure you have enough speed on the downswing.  This is a full swing that requires power and leverage.  Hopefully these few tips will help you get out of the fescue the next time you hit an errant shot.  If you need any further help in avoiding big numbers, please see your local PGA Professional for help.  Good luck
this year!

Tim Garvin
is the Head Golf Professional at the South Fork Country Club .

Get A Grip
by Eileen McCaffrey

    Have you checked the grips on your golf clubs lately?  It is extremely important that you do this at the beginning of each season and periodically throughout the year.  Whether you play golf weekly, monthly, or only several times during the season, you should be aware of how your grips feel.  Grips are effected by the amount of times you play with them, as well as where you store your clubs when not in use.  Don’t store your clubs in extreme hot or cold environments.  For example, try to avoid leaving your clubs in the trunk of your car.

    To find out if you need new grips, you should inspect each club with the intention of determining whether or not they have become too slick.  Do they have a smooth feel – so much so that you need to hold on too tight to avoid having the club slip out of your hands while you swing?  If the answer is yes, then you need to replace the grips.

    Slick grips may cause you to hold the club tighter than needed, resulting in tension in your arms and shoulders.  This can lead to a stiff golf swing.  Similarly, if your grips are looking a little worn – especially where your right thumb sits on the handle (for right-handed golfers) – it is time to replace them.  The cost for replacing your grips is minimal and the results are priceless.
As you know, our only contact with the golf club is when we hold the handle, so be aware of the condition of your grips.  Playing better golf depends on many things, but one thing we can all attend to is the replacing of and caring for our grips.  As a general rule, I recommend replacing your grips at the beginning of each season.  Remember- golf can be fun, enjoy the game and always loosen up before practice or play.

Eileen McCaffrey
is the Head Golf Professional at Cherry Creek Golf Links & The Woods At Cherry Creek

It’s All About the Speed
by Peter Stern

Two things affect a golf ball’s ability to find the hole when putting.  The first is the speed of the putt, and the second is the line or break of the putt. Of those two, speed is the most important.  Most golfers won’t miss a putt way right or way left, but missing a putt way short or way long happens fairly often.  To get the proper feel for speed, try the ladder drill. Take a handful of golf balls (five to 10) and line them up in two-foot intervals away from the hole. Next, place a club on the ground about a foot and a half (18”) past the hole.  Start putting from the closest ball and work your way back. Two feet, four feet, and so on. The goal for this drill is not to make every putt (although that would be great), but to keep misses within the area between the hole and the club on the ground. Doing this consistently will help you make a lot more putts.  More importantly, you’ll avoid the dreaded three-putts that can kill a round.

The Peter Stern Golf Academy
can now be found at Indian Head Golf Park in Kings Park.

Ask Dr. Schienberg
by Dr. Paul Schienberg

Question:  What are your thoughts on golfer’s elbow?  How can I treat it and recover from it?

Answer:  Most people know about tennis elbow and assume that golfer’s elbow is the same thing.  To clarify, it’s not.  Tennis elbow is usually typified by pain on the outside edge of the elbow.  Golfer’s elbow is much more painful on the inside of the elbow.  The injury usually involves ligaments and nerves above, below, and on the elbow.

    The first thing you should do is go to an orthopedic doctor and have him take an X-ray of the area that’s in pain.  If you’re in great pain, the X-rays should reveal obvious inflammation. If this is the case, it is important to stop playing golf immediately. I know that this is very difficult for those that love the game, but it’s a must.  “Being tough” and fighting through the pain is a terrible mistake.  You’ll end up with a longer recovery time, and you definitely don’t want that!  The orthopedic doctor will write a prescription for you to go to a physical therapist, and you should go as soon as possible.
    You should meet with the physical therapist at least twice a week until the discomfort is completely gone.  Don’t return to golfing until all the pain is gone, or you could cause an even more intense episode of golfer’s elbow!  You have to remain very patient.  Prepare to undergo a variety of treatments, including massaging, icing, and light weightlifting. Anti-inflammatory medicines like Advil or ibuprofen are also very helpful.  The physical therapist will also give you exercises to do at home between sessions.  Even if you are feeling better, be diligent in performing these exercises—they can make the difference between a speedy recovery and a prolonged absence from the course.

    A common cause of golfer’s elbow is that the grips on your golf clubs may be too small for your hand. You may also be squeezing the grip too hard, adding tension and stress to your arm.  If you recently tried a new grip, be sure to grip the club lightly.  Many golfers who receive professional lessons develop golfer’s elbow from trying new things.  Talk to your local pro about it, and be sure to get your clubs fit to your exact specifications.  Finally, when you start to play again after recovery, take it easy. See how it feels over time. Go slow. Hold the club lightly in your hand and build confidence in that part of your arm.  Before long, you’ll be pain free and playing well.

Dr. Paul Schienberg  is the publisher of, an athletic performance enhancement website.  He is also an
associate editor to Athletic Insight, an online professional sports psychology journal.