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Monday, June 27, 2005

The Learning Process

I’ve never been one for traditional learning. Even in school, my tendency was to forgo classes, learn on my own, and pass tests. Now that the only exams I face are real world situations and how I deal with them and come out the other side, it’s even more important to me to achieve. Now I’m accountable to me. When I enter into any kind of endeavor, it is unacceptable to not succeed, or what was the point? Admittedly, I’ve been known to give up before I really get started on something, that way, in my own warped mind, I haven’t failed if I never really tried. I’ll confess here and now that failure is probably my biggest fear (creepy-crawlies notwithstanding). If I make it known that I’m actually attempting something, I simply must end up being good at it. Therefore, if it doesn’t come naturally, I actually have to put forth effort! Generally, I prefer the former. This could be part of the reason for the level of my golf addiction. There’s only so far you can get on natural ability and instinct. Even before I took it up, I proclaimed golf to be not a sport, but a discipline. This is probably what kept me from taking it up until now. Too much dedication required. Things should just come naturally. Maybe the fact that I entered into it with this knowledge indicates some level of maturity. Crap.

So, do you need a teacher to be taught? I’ve been learning from watching, from reading magazine articles, a couple of shows on the Golf channel, and from conversing with other golfers. It’s amazing how willing golfers are to share what they know with a beginner. I’m still improving on my own, but I was thinking I should probably get some real lessons before I develop too many bad habits. Some people have encouraged that and some people think it’ll just mess me up and that I’m doing fine on my own so far. At one point, I did reach a plateau of sorts, and decided it was time for real lessons if only to get me jumpstarted and headed back to forward progression. A teaching professional at a nice course near me (Tierra Rejada) was recommended to me and when I met him, he made me such a great deal that I went ahead and pre-paid him for a year’s worth of lessons. I was so excited.

At my first lesson, he laid out a plan for my development. One lesson a week for a year, starting with several weeks of nothing but short chipping, and working our way back to a full swing, stopping for bunker and putting work along the way. He was even going to throw in some playing lessons and course management. I was thrilled. The first thing he did was change my grip. I chipped and chipped and chipped and as soon as he left, I took my new grip to the range to test it on my full swing. I was amazed at what a difference it made. So much more consistent and powerful. When I left the course that day I was rejuvenated and walking on air I was so excited. I really felt the potential to get good at this game! I came home, wrote down all the notes I could think of from what he taught me and planned on doing the same thing every lesson and keep a really good log so I could go back and reference it when I struggled. I had two more lessons just like that: chipping, chipping, chipping and more chipping. At the end of the third lesson I pleaded with him to just give me a few pointers on my full swing because in between lessons I was still playing rounds and wanted to implement what he was teaching me in the short swing to the full course. He did what I asked, and we spent another 15 minutes doing that. That was the last I saw of my teaching professional.

The guy simply vanished. His phone was disconnected, the club told me he no longer worked there and had no other way to reach him. I was devastated. Not just because of the money I paid him, but I was really learning from him and liked the way he explained things to me. I have heard various reports of how many people he ripped off, anywhere from 5 to 30 other suckers like me. Apparently, none of us got our deals in writing, and we admitted to receiving some lessons, so who’s to say that wasn’t the agreement? The police are trying to build a case against him now, but it’s difficult because of the verbal contracts. I heard he’s seeking employment at other courses in the area. If someone hires him, I’d really just like to get him to follow through on his commitment to me instead of pressing charges or just getting my money back. But this time, I’d get it in writing. And what about Tierra Rejada? It was the fact that he worked there that gave him the credibility in my eyes to trust that our deal was for real. Shouldn’t I get some kind of recompense from them? Well, at first they tried to wash their hands of any responsibility when I called them on the phone. When I went down there in person, they were much more accommodating. They said they couldn’t provide the year of lessons but that they would be willing to give me one of their six lesson packages. I would rather have had 52 free rounds at that course, which wouldn’t really cost them a thing, but I was satisfied by their offer. Then I asked if they could get me out to play while I was there. They put me with another single and sent me out for a round free of charge. It was a round I will never forget!

Next post. (skips the next sequential post, "courses I've played" which is a permanent link in the sidebar and gets updated occasionally)


3 comments:

dave said...

Very interesting story… Don't you wonder if the course didn't really asked him to leave. Strange that he is trying to get a job in the same area.

Golfchick said...

I'm getting all this information from people at the club, so who knows what's really going on?

GetAGrip said...

Most of the instructors are independent contractors that pay the course for the rental of their stall or space....usually for a relatively short period of time, from what I've heard...

Bottom line, try not to pay an instructor for more than a month, maybe two in advance...cuz if a better deal comes along, they could be goners, along with your moola...

Sad, but true....