Growing up I would always follow my father when he went to play golf. At the time I just thought it was fun to be around my dad and had no idea what the game was about and why so many people like it. My favorite part was when he played this hole that had a big gully that stood in the way of the green. When he putted out on the 5th green I would always run ahead to the 6th and make my way into the gully! It always enjoyed adventures in the woods but the reason for my excursion was to find golf balls for my father. He wasn’t the greatest golfer so he always needed golf balls.
When I was finally old enough to join my local golf club I did. What a great deal it was $300 for the year! If you have children I highly suggest you get them to join a golf club as it great game to introduce kids to for some many reasons. I was eight years old at the time and had dreams of playing Professional Baseball with the Toronto Blue Jays so golf was just another activity to get me out of the house. Those dreams only deepened when they won back to back World Series in 1992 and 1993. Obviously those dreams didn’t come to fruition because I am here! Baseball is primarily a spring and summer time sport in Canada and so is golf. After baseball practice and games I would head to the course and during my first summer at club I played every day I could. I loved trying to improve and wasn’t going to be beat by a ball that was simply perched above the grass, just sitting there, staring at me. After all I was a pretty good hitter in baseball and thought it would be easier to hit a golf ball as it was not being thrown at me.
My desire to improve quickly became an obsession and slowly my love for baseball was dying. I remember an instance where I had a golf tournament at my home club on the same day as a playoff baseball game. My team had just gone 18-0 in regular season play and I was set to pitch that game. This was the day that changed my life forever and I don’t know where I would be if I had chosen the stick with baseball. After my team lost the game I was the one to blame which was kind of nice because maybe I was the reason the team went 18-0! Not exactly but that decision is the reason why I am here today and why I feel so honored and privileged to call golf my Profession.
I set out on a mission to do whatever I could to become the best golfer possible. I decided to take lessons from my club professional as they surely would be able to help me. After a few months I was slowly improving but was starting to get fed up with the costs of private lessons. I had taken on a part time job at the club picking range balls for a few hours a day in the summer. My pay checks were being giving directly back to the club professional to pay for my private lessons. I was also getting fed up with progression of his teaching because we would work on a lot of the same stuff lesson after lesson. Being a teaching professional myself I now understand why he was doing that. You simply don’t want to overload a golfer with too much information because they will think way to much as they stand over the ball. Although I do understand this it still costs golfers learning the game a lot of money and is just one of many reasons why I started this website.
After some improvement and a few thousand dollars later I decide that private lessons were not going to the quickest and most efficient way for me to improve. This is where I turned to training aids to help my game along. Many of the aids I tried forced me into positions during the golf swing that I was not able to get in because of my size and physical inabilities. I also didn’t like how they tried to groove a standard set of principles for every golfer. No two golfers are a like and no one should have to try to groove their golf swing or fundamentals based on the manufactures standards. At the time it made no sense to me and still to this day I laugh at the training aids that come out on the market. It’s like playing golf clubs off the rack. Golfers should be custom fit into golf clubs that suit their swing. Not suit their swing to the equipment which is the same as using many of today’s training aids.
I was running out of options and was getting very impatient and frustrated. During the early 1990′s there was no bigger teacher in the game then David Leadbetter. He had just worked with Nick Faldo to completely rebuild his swing. The results were very impressive as Faldo won 2 British Opens and 2 Masters in a three year span. Falling into the lure of creative marketing I begged my parents to pay for me to go to a 4 Day David Leadbetter golf school in Florida. If he can help the worlds best golfers achieve greatness I am sure he can help just about anyone.
Wrong! You don’t see even David Leadbetter at his camps. Regular golf instructors were simply teaching me the principles they had been taught by Mr. Leadbetter. Many of these principles were difficult to understand for a novice golfer like me and as I found out, a lot of the other students had to continuously ask for clarification on a number of things that were being said. This academy along with many others like the Nicklaus Academy, Butch Harmon Golf Schools and Dave Pelz Short Game Schools are nothing more then very good marketing. Big name golfers or instructors who have spent the majority of they careers teaching PGA Tour players and not teaching regular golfers like most of you reading this. People who attend these schools are paying way too much simply for a name. I’m not saying they can’t help regular golfers but from my experience and talking with hundreds of golfers who attend these schools, not many golfers actually improve and get worse.
After a very intense 4 days I came back ready to work on every facet of my game thanks to the help of the instructors at the Leadbetter Academy. This golf camp actually caused me a lot more harm them good as I had way too many thoughts in my head again due to the expansive amount of knowledge that was introduced to me at this camp. I was slowly getting worse and lost what little bit of confidence I had. Every golf school or golf academy has 2-5 day golf camps that simply overload golfers with far too much information. It is much easier for people to learn at their own pace and have all the necessary content readily available when they want to access it. This is a just another reason why I believe internet golf instruction is a great idea for both the golfer and the instructor.
After my Leadbetter golf camp experience I really didn’t think I would improve and was debating on quitting the game. My inner desire and a positive attitude were all I needed as I set out on my own to become a better golfer. I was beginning to see progress and kept plugging away and improving. Surely enough, things were paying off.
Two years after setting out on my own to learn the game I was shooting in high 70′s at junior tournaments and was competing against players 4 years older them me. It was fun and a confidence booster for me and thoughts started creeping to my ahead about playing Professional Golf on TV because of the money and how you got to travel and play on the best courses! These thoughts would only get deeper and turned out to be my down fall.
My grade 10 year at high school turned out to be the reason why. During local qualifying for our Province’s High School Championships I shoot a 6 under 66 on my home course where they played the Canadian Tour Spring Qualifying School. A month later I went onto win the individual championship at the High School championships and in the process become only the second grade 10 to do so. Local newspapers were all over me and had articles and blurbs written about me every week. Everyone I played with at the time would always say to me “Don’t forget about me when you start playing on TV”.
In the end it was these comments and articles crushed my dreams and desire to play on the PGA Tour. At the beginning the need to improve was solely for me and me alone. Now it was becoming evident that I wanted to improve because of the popularity and this is never a good thing. This opens a person up and exposes them. If you play bad then everyone is wondering why and you want to play better for them and not yourself. All the top golfers in the world got to where they are because they have the desire to be their best and don’t let others affect their game.
I had another great playing year at the age of 16 which is the last year golf coaches from the top universities in the US will look at you. That year I was playing tournaments in the US with future PGA players like Hunter Mahan, Kevin Na, Ryan Moore and Camillo Villegas. Talk about good company! After our National Championship in August I was set to begin my grade 12 year in high school and was receiving interest from Division 1 universities. After all these years in the bottom of my dresser I still have the letter the Ohio State golf coach sent me. The left hand side of the letter had all the great players that attended Ohio State and I couldn’t help but think I would be one of those. A few months later after my reply I received a response saying that all scholarship money was given away but I had an open invitation to try out for their golf team next fall. In short I wasn’t good enough. So I begin looking for other top Division 1 universities and received the same letters from each and every coach. Instead of trying to improve and try to approach these schools the following year I sulked and lost focus.
My last chance for any type of recognition from these coaches would come at my National Championship the next year. It turned out that the tournament was going to be contested on the same course I won my High School title on 2 years prior. This tournament had been on my radar since I found out it was hosted at my favorite course when I was 14. My playing schedule that year was kept light and I missed some great tournaments played on some amazing courses. But it was for my last kick at glory and I felt it was the right decision.
My first round started off rough as I bogeyed 4 of my first 6 holes. Stunned would be an under statement. I hadn’t shot over 74 at this course in 10 competitive rounds and here I was already above that mark after 6 holes. During the rest of the round I held it together and managed to shot 76, not great but still in it. My province golf association had paid for accommodations for the week but with my disappointment and close proximity to home, I caught a ride back home with my parents. That night I hung out with friends and cleared my mind. The good news was my second round was to be played in the morning so not much time to think and analyze. This turned out to be good as I putted lights out with a new putter and shot a 3 under 69 and was standing at 1 over for the tournament back in contention. As I look back at all the great rounds during my competitive career this was easily the best due to the circumstances. There was plenty riding on this tournament. Word got back home that was back in it and as I was about to start round 3 a dozen of my friends showed up to cheer me on. I was stunned as many of them had never played golf but had followed my career all through high school. Back to business and with a quick two putt birdie on the 1st I was back at level par. By the time I had knocked a wedge to 8 feet on the 5th I was only 2 shots out of the lead and had a chance to creep to within one. How did I know this? I glanced at a walking scoreboard from the final group as they were on the 2nd hole. Reflecting back I should have never glanced at the leaderboard as I put too much pressure on that one putt and when it slid by the right side of the cup I was rattled. Consecutive 3 putt bogeys at 6 and 7 and another bogey at 9 and I was too far back and disturbed. I ended up shooting 76 and followed that up with a 77 in tough conditions the final day.
That was my last chance to receive a scholarship and of course had no interest from any schools. My parents and I moved a couple weeks later and I was about to embark into a life that had no path. After one more disappointing year in Junior Golf I gave up the game and took the only job I could find. Oddly enough it was at a golf course. What else was I going to do? The course was a Private club and after an interview I was told there was only one day a week available. There were no other options and liked the private club atmosphere as you develop a relationship with the members and they make you feel wanted. Within two years I was promoted into the pro shop and part of my job duty was to play golf with the members. Not a bad gig and I actually missed playing the game. This is where I finally learnt how to enjoy the game of golf and all the great things that accompany playing the game. It wasn’t about shooting 68, it was about having a few laughs and enjoying the company, scenery and exercise.
This move into the pro shop also brought about a new desire to learn the business side of the profession. From this desire I completed my play ability test where I had to shot two round of 156 or better. I did that ( just barely I might add) and enrolled in a Professional Golf Management program. Two years later I started my move towards becoming a teaching professional and got certified. All the years of playing my best golf I had no idea why and was finally about to learn. This turned out to be quick and I was off to teach golfers at my home club.
Comprised of my solid playing career as a junior and now the knowledge I have gained as an instructor I am confident I have found ways for all golfers to improve their game no matter what their background is. I have attended Golf Schools, read thousands of Golf Magazines and instructional books and watched thousands of hours of golf and golf instruction shows on the Golf Channel. Let me share with you all this knowledge that is sitting in my brain waiting to be un-locked so you start playing better golf now!