This is not a typical golf blog, yet the information provided is extremely applicable to both golf instructors and society as a whole. I often wonder how our society has changed over the years and I am no longer disillusioned by the belief that we are a vastly improved society compared to centuries or even generations prior.  Are we technologically more advanced than prior centuries? Steve Jobs and Bill Gates can answer that for me.

However, as evident in the current economy, it is clear that improved technology cannot be the only measure of growth. So what is holding us back as a society? I believe the simple answer is that we have become a society of consumers desiring instant gratification. Children are rarely being taught to think for themselves or genuinely challenge themselves. Unfortunately, teachers both in the class room and on the golf course are just as at fault as the students.

What would occur if history teacher, as opposed to assigning a specific assignment to all students after learning about the Egyptians, told the students to create a paper or project that demonstrated what they had learned? Sure, there would still be students who did nothing, but that would be the case if the same assignment was given to all of them. My belief is that many students would explore and demonstrate their creativity in a myriad of ways. We need to encourage education that promotes a forward thinking mindset, as opposed to a command and obey mentality that is often taught throughout our schools.

So how does this apply to golf? A common phrase among golf professionals is that, ‘we are all students of the game’. But what does actually mean? Princeton University has one definition of student which states a student is: “someone who by long study has gained mastery in one or more disciplines”. Now it is imperative to make note that having a mastery of golf knowledge is much different than having mastered the ability to play golf.

I encourage players looking for an instructor as well as those of you who are instructors to find ways to gain a working knowledge of golf and become a student of the game if you are not. Often time students will come back with the same reoccurring problem that we work on lesson after lesson. This is great from a revenue standpoint, but is the instructor really equipping the student with the proper information to make them better golfers? I often ask my students open ended questions that encourage them to find the root of the problem, and not just be consumers of whatever information I provide them in the lesson.

One of my main goals as an instructor is to maximize the ability of my students. Part of that process requires my students to diagnose and fix their own swing flaws. Let’s face it, all of us having been playing well and in the middle of a round we start to hit it one way or the other. If a student doesn’t understand why he/she is hitting a 50-yard slice, than they will have little chance of solving the problem on their own. However, if that same student is equipped with the proper knowledge, as well as a mindset that assesses the situation and looks to solve the root of their problem, they may very well be able to save their round of golf. That is one common trait in all good golfers. They know their own games, and are able to adjust accordingly throughout the course of a round.

If we encourage our students to be students of the game and be forward thinking in their approach to the game of golf, we are not only helping them succeed on the golf course, but also in the game of life. This type of success is what I desire for all of my students, regardless of ability or motives for playing the game.

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