Golf lessons

Dear Editor: My husband Steve and I enrolled in a community education golf class which began a week ago. This is probably the sixth or seventh time we have taken the same class from the same instructor in the last 10 years.

As a community Parks and Recreation class, it is already very affordable, but the quality of the teaching makes it priceless.

The class is a beginning/intermediate class with a maximum of 15 students. We meet every Thursday for six weeks from 6-7 p.m. Every time I attend one of these sessions, I am delighted by the excellence of the teaching. Scott is a PGA golfer. I have no idea if he has had training as a teacher, but he is so gifted that I always find myself observing his techniques and reminding myself to incorporate them into my classes.

I always start out a little embarrassed because I am still working on things like how to grip the golf club and where to place my feet, even after I’ve taken this class so many times. But it doesn’t take long for me to be put at ease and focus on the lesson at hand.

We are invited to come to the driving range early to practice what we learned the previous week and to stretch out our stiff muscles in preparation for the lesson. Scott gathers us into a group around him where he demonstrates the lesson of the day. These demonstrations are both verbal and visual. He breaks down the skill he is teaching into manageable steps, and then proceeds to show us what he means. Once he has modeled the skill he is trying to teach us, he has us spread out along a broad yellow line, where he walks us through drills and exercises to help us get a feel for what he has just showed us. I especially like the little visual mnemonics he gives us to keep in mind when we are on our own – things like holding the club about a fist’s distance from the body in preparation for a swing or  placing the end of the club on the belly-button when practicing the initial turn away from the ball – a vivid reminder that the entire upper body is part of the backswing.

While we are in this initial preparation phase, Scott goes down the line to make sure that each of us understands what he is trying to teach us. We then move into the practice phase. We have a boatload of balls in each stall and we begin to implement the lesson of the evening, some with much more success than others. At this point Scott walks from one end of the stalls to the other, stopping to observe and help each of us along the way. And this is where I particularly appreciate the value of Scott’s teaching and am inspired to remember this as I teach my own classes. Each person on that range comes to the lesson with a different level of training, skill, natural talent, and experience. Yet Scott finds a way to help each of us find one thing to work on for the evening and for the week ahead.

When Steve and I go golfing I never get particularly good scores. While the lessons are great, they don’t work if you don’t go out and practice them regularly. But I have learned to enjoy the game so much more than I ever thought I would. And I have Scott and the City of Downey to thank for that.

Bonnie Mansell




Published: May 22, 2014 - Volume 13 - Issue 06