Golf Column

Take a Lesson

By Paul Viau | Jun 11, 2013

In most sports, practice makes perfect. But the way most golfers “practice” the game dooms them to failure. See if you fit this profile.
You go to the driving range with a large bucket of balls, pull the driver out of your golf bag, tee up a ball  and start hitting away.
Your goal is to make contact with the ball  right?  — And hit the ball long and straight.
Some 80-90 balls later, you’re in a groove, so you head to the practice putting green.
Here again, you just toss a few balls on to the putting surface and roll them around, until a ball or two drop into the cup. Satisfied with your game, you head (1) to the first tee, (2) to the “19th Hole” or (3) straight home to rest.
So what’s wrong with this picture?
First of all, you’ve “practiced” with just two out of the 14 clubs in your bag. But there is a bigger problem.
When was the last time you played a golf course that was completely level with every hole dead straight?  Oh yes, and every putting surface was also fairly level. The answer is — never.
A round of golf involves a variety of situations where you are hitting the ball uphill, downhill or along the side of a hill. The ball also may lie above or below your feet, close to a tree or smack dab in a tree.
To further complicate things, your target — Yes, there is a target in golf! — is rarely straight ahead.
Professional golfers have figured this out and have learned to move the ball left-to-right (fade) and right-to-left (hook) to fit the shot to the configuration of the hole they are playing.
You need to practice this, too — and from a variety of different lies.
I know this sounds daunting, but I have a recommendation for you — take a lesson.
Invest a little time and money on your grip, posture and alignment. Develop a “recipe for your swing” — Making it the best it can be.
With a few lessons you can even learn how to control ball flight.
The game of golf will always be difficult, but it will be much more difficult (aka — impossible) without lessons.
To quote one of the best teaching pros I know — Trey Smith, from Maggie Valley Club and Resort, “Over and over again, I watch golfers fail before they start, because they don’t understand the basic techniques of the game.”
Without those basics, every time you “practice” you will just be reinforcing bad habits.
So instead of a new driver or a new 3-wood, invest in fundamentals — like your swing. You may never win the club championship, but you may surprise yourself with more good rounds of golf.
By the way, if you’d like to schedule a series of lessons with Trey Smith, phone the Maggie Valley Club Pro Shop at 926-6013.