Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Drive For Show, Take Lessons For Dough

Amateur golfers everywhere, heed my advice. Do NOT spend hundreds of dollars on a new driver for that extra ten or fifteen yards you'll get off the tee. Chances are you'll only see those extra yards for a very short while. This is all related to the First Use Rule: the first time you try any new golf clubs, you will see dramatic improvements instantly. But these new-found skills will quickly fade away and you'll go back to hitting the ball like you always did. This is all probably distantly related to the Placebo effect.

For the love of god, you don't need a new driver every season. Trust me on this. Instead, take the four or five hundred dollars you were going to spend and put it toward a series of lessons. A set of decent lessons will cost you half that money. You can use the remaining money to pay for balls at the driving range instead, since you'll want to practice what you've learned in your lessons. Or, if you absolutely must have a new club, take that remaining money, get creative, and find that driver you're looking for used at a golf store or online.

Too many people spend all their money on equipment, which most of the time doesn't have any lasting impact on their golf games. Sure, if you're playing with a brassie, a new driver will help your game a lot. What I'm talking about here are the guys who, every March, are stopping in the pro shop to test out new drivers.

There are also golfers who spend hours and hours at the driving range, honestly looking to improve their games, but who for various reasons refuse to take lessons. All they usually end up doing is ingraining bad habits and bad moves into their swings; in effect all their practice is making them worse!

Take lessons. I understand the desire to "do it yourself," to be able proudly boast you're "self-taught." There are professional golfers who are self-taught, but I seriously doubt they never traded tips and advice with their buddies while on-course or at the range.

Ben Hogan was renowned for how much practice he put in and figuring out the golf swing on his own. But at various crisis points in his career, he received some good advice from his fellow touring pros that helped him out in the long run. And I'll bet most of us don't have the time Ben did to spend eight hours a day at the range.

And if you still think you can figure it out on your own, consider this: Tiger Woods takes lessons. He's taken lessons ALL HIS LIFE. If Tiger doesn't feel he's "better than taking a lesson," then you shouldn't feel you are either.

10 comments:

rongo jugataris said...

just wut the f--- does a leson cost these daze, you efete intelexual snob. reel men dont take lessins, they dance and eat kiche, so stuf yur lessins in yur overly inflated ego.
Love Dad

Brian O'Rourke said...

Rongo,

Thanks for stopping by. Not sure if you're a golfer, but since it's Masters Week, I urge you to check this book out in your spare time.

rongo jugataris said...

thanks for the link Brian. just finished reading The Test and it is absolutely, positively, the finest piece of fiction I've ever come across.
Rongo

seanag said...

Rongo, you must be a very fast reader. And the book must be great, because it has obviously improved your grammar and spelling abilities exponentially.

Brian, I think your 'golf sermon' may be more generally applicable. For example, I came up with a theory that when cooking, beginner's luck will save you the first time, but you're on your own for all the other times after. Sadly, there is probably nothing mystical about any of this--we probably are just more alert and aware when something new enters the equation, but sluff off quickly after...

New tools are always a temptation in any pursuit--writing springs quickly to mind--even though writing requires singularly few new tools. (Thank god for the invention of the computer with its endless new versions on that score.) That whole 'new lessons' idea can play out quite differently in the writing world--new lessons can also be a way to get around the actual task--but it does resonate with me, even though I balk at it--we all do need to learn more about how to tackle our shortcomings as we go along.

Brian O'Rourke said...

Seana,

Rongo is truly an inspiration to us all.

I like your cooking reference. I think you're onto something. Beginner's luck isn't luck, but probably, as you alluded to, it's got something to do with how we approach any new venture, psychologically speaking.

I think a lot of aspiring writers are guilty of spending too much time reading about writing, instead of doing. It's like they're overtaught, but they don't put in the practice, if that makes any sense. Or as you say, it's a way to get around the actual task.

And yes, thank god for the computer. How hard it must have been before to write a book in the days of the typewriter or before!

Phil Stiefel said...

I have made the mistake and never again will waste money on a cool driver... I got my mother to buy me for Christmas many years ago a Big Bertha for like 200 bucks... It sucked or it wasn't meant for my terrible swing... It has been pulled out of my bag only about two or three times in the last 6 years and that was only to lighten my bag on tough walking courses... I spent 30 dollars on a cheap but forgiving driver and I use that everytime I am on a driver tee.

Brian O'Rourke said...

Phil,

When are we teeing it up again?

Phil Stiefel said...

Anytime you want as long as it is an early tee time... or any one of the four or five days a year I am closed here at the store

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