Why Are Golfers Getting Better?

January 19, 2009

Interesting take on our Hot List issue from Ed LeBeau, founder of the Heartland Golf Schools in St. Louis:


__Dear Editor: In the Golf Digest February issue, you open the the Hot List article with these two sentences: "We are getting better. And equipment technology is the reason."

If that statement is true, what does that say about the impact of the hundreds of pages of instruction that are published in yours and others golf magazines (not to mention those of us who stand in the sun teaching for hours on end)?

Before your get the impression that I have an ax to grind regarding giving credit to equipment instead of instruction, let's acknowledge that every writer wants to grab their reader and that those opening two sentences were the result.

However, I do want to share one observation. Here it is: There are two approaches to golf instruction, one that focuses on the movement of the body and the other that focuses on the movement of the club. Since golf is a game of sending the ball to the target and the ball responds solely to the movement of the club, wouldn't it be reasonable to have some instructional articles that are club-focused instead of body-focused. Read a few of your articles and you'll see 99 per cent of them are body-focused.

Teachers like Ernest Jones, Manuel de la Torre, Eddie Merrins and dozens of club professionals are proponents of club-focused instruction. This approach to instruction is highly effective and would be something new instead of repackaging the body stuff one more time. I would be pleased to provide you with an example and am certain that I could get Eddy or Manuel to be interviewed.

Ed LeBeau>

Heartland Golf Schools>

St. Louis, MO __

Ed, thanks for the letter. You make a couple of very good points. First, we (you teachers first, we magazines second) ought to give ourselves a little credit. Second, there are more than one way to teach and learn the game. We agree with that and, in fact, have published instruction by Ernest Jones, Manuel de la Torre and Eddie Merrins in our magazine. We have also done interviews with both Manuel and Eddie, Merrins in 2007. Both teachers were included in our 2007 50 Greatest Teachers list. As for club-focused teaching today, I'd suggest that instructors such as Jim Flick are close, though obviously if you agreed, you would have mentioned Jim. You may be right about our body focus. Thanks for the observation.

--Bob Carney

(Photo of Merrins by Joey Terrill)