Confessions of a Golf Teaching Professionsal
Okay, I’ll admit it: not every day is a good one on the lesson tee. Some days I can honestly say I’d rather be under a car, over a desk, or behind a cash register. At times, golf students can be frustrating… arrogant…annoying…un-athletic… robotic (more on that one later). The list goes on. The job itself, too, can be unpredictable, almost impossible, and, most definitely, mentally exhausting.
Of course, I’m happy to say that most days aren’t like that at all. I’m happy. The sun is shining. People are friendly. I’ve slept enough. The grass is green. Progress is being made. I’m completely satisfied – even incredibly thankful! – that I’ve chosen this career. It is, after all, one of the best jobs on the planet!
But golf pros, like everyone else, are fallible. We mess up. We sometimes don’t care enough. We occasionally allow our minds to drift to the status of our investment portfolio, if we have one, or the golf swing of the person in the next stall over, when we should be concentrating on the student in front of us.
Obviously, students, too, can be difficult to work with. The connection sometimes just isn’t there. The social skills are nowhere to be found. The athleticism appears nonexistent. Sadly, sometimes when it’s blazing hot and I’m teaching someone who just really isn’t any fun at all, I think about ending the day early and heading to the first tee. And, yes, I admit, many times I have done just that. (Why is there such a pull to that first tee? And why is it so much fun? One day I hope to have an answer to that.)
But, now that I’m on a roll, I have a few more confessions to make (by the way, my mom doesn’t have to know any of this). Even though I love them, and have four of my own, teaching kids is kind of scary. I mean, you never
know when little Ronny is going to pick up his 7-iron and lobotomize the kid in the next stall over. And, sadly, during some junior classes I feel like a professional babysitter, not a golf instructor. Runny noses just don’t do it for me.
Then you always get a few kids who, at eight years of age, are convinced they know more about the game than, say, Ben Hogan. Those types always get me chuckling, which, I suppose, is a good thing. Generally speaking though, kids with the “I know everything and you don’t” syndrome are relatively harmless.
However, the kids who are downright defiant aren’t much fun at all. I struggle with them. Not that my boys can’t be hellions, because, they most definitely can. In fact, just the other day two of them smeared wood glue all over the basement carpet and walls. That was so much fun to clean up! I had the biggest smile on my face and was full
of nice, warm, loving, thoughts as I scrubbed. Yes, and pigs fly. But, in my opinion, if a child has a terrible attitude,
doesn’t want to participate in the drills, and is demonstrating dangerous behaviour, then he should be lobotomi…I mean, lovingly removed from the class.
Of course, kids aren’t the only ones who sometimes make teaching seem rather chore-like to me. Sometimes adults, probably the ones who have cleaned up glue spills, can make life fairly interesting, too. I once had a gentleman show up for a lesson who was so inebriated that his “finish position” was lying prostrate on the ground. I definitely don’t run into that situation every day.
Then I had one gal, similar to some of the little terrors I’ve taught, who basically refused to do anything I asked her to do. Everything I said she questioned and doubted and had some ridiculously juvenile response to. And, she was a professional person in her 30s! Finally I got really perturbed and erroneously asked her, “Why are we here? What’s the point of doing this? Clearly your money would have been better spent on something else.” After that she made a minor effort, but she was, easily, the worstbehaved adult student I’ve ever had. God bless her, though. I ’m sure she’ll be incredibly successful in other sports. Ahem.
But, I actually enjoy people who aren’t athletic superstars. The incredibly gifted ones are just too easy to work with! Often people who are less naturally gifted or skilled are more eager, which is nice…to a point.
I had one student who wanted it so bad he gripped the club with the most vicious vice-like grip you’ve ever seen. His hands were pretty much melded onto the grip after about five minutes on the lesson. Try as I might,
nothing would work to soften his grip pressure and get him to relax a bit. Eventually I tried to pry his fingers off the grip. No go. It appeared the only way I’d remove him from the club would be via electric shock.
I’ve never seen anything like it. It was kind of funny, but quite disconcerting at the same time. Finally, he told me he was in a traffic accident a few years ago and his hand was put back together with titanium rods and pins.
Seriously. Then it all started making sense. This particular student was bionic. The Six Million Dollar Man. A cyborg. Needless to say, that was the last time we worked on grip pressure.
Ah, yes, the life of a golf teaching pro. I wouldn’t change it for anything.