EDITOR'S NOTE: "What Teaching Golf Taught Me" is a collection of articles on what Percy Boomer learned during his career as a golf instructor and player. This is the first article for this category in the Percy's blog-book.
Anyone who is involved in teaching golf or who has even watched closely a number of beginners at the game knows that there are two
great classes those who are natural golfers and those who are not.
My brother Aubrey was born a golfer; I had to make myself one and a hard time I had doing it. Indeed we were both extreme members of
our respective classes.
A study of the difference in mental and physical make-up between the natural golfer and the made one is intensely interesting. So is
a study of their ultimate capacity for the game.
Not all the advantages are on the side of the natural player. Of course if his early game is guided by a far-seeing nature, as Aubrey's was, he is fortunate. But too often the natural golfer is so successful at first that he is content to be self-taughtand the self-taught golfer is usually a badly taught one.
Why? Well for a number of reasons which this book will make clear, not the least important being the fact that the soundest and most permanently profitable motions in golf feel unnatural, and "all wrong" to most people when first tried.
Further we are all imitative to some degree and unless we learn a whole and comprehensive technique of the game from a teacher who has a coherent idea of the relationship of the various shots, we are apt to pick up a bit here and a bit there by watching others.
The result is a patchwork game, full of pretty shots maybe when it is running well, but so loosely hung together and so self-contradictory in some of its component parts that it is unreliable and may be expected to break down or blow up when the strain comes.
A well-taught golfer rarely breaks down and rarely goes off his game completely and if he does strike a bad patch one or at the most two lessons will pull him back again.
But patching up a badly taught player is one of the most difficult and thankless tasks a teacher can undertake. I have refused to take on hundreds of such cases, because I do not believe that any instruction that is not part of a consistent system can be of any permanent benefit.
"Tips" which are guaranteed to improve your game are easy enough to come by. Every club-house is full of them, and you have only to go
a few holes with a friend to know what his own particular disease is by the "cures" he hands out to you! It is human nature to feel sure that everyone else is afflicted by the same troubles as those which torment ourselves.
But all this advice is dangerous for it is just impossible to build up a sound game by accepting tips and instructions and advice from all those who are willing to offer them.
Does this apply only if we copy or take advice from bad examples? Oh no! anyone from a beginner to an experienced golfer who has
tried to take too much expert advice from too many sources will have been baffled and confused both in his mind and in his style by the opposite theories and contradictory practices of acknowledged masters.
This fact alone is sufficient to prove one of the main contentions of this book, that the mechanical muscular movements employed in golf are not the whole secret of it.