September 20, 2023

Ed Oldham: Help Students Understand How to Practice

Ed Oldham, the 2020 Colorado PGA Section Player Development Award Recipient, Two-Time Section Golf Professional of the Year, and Two-Time Section Teacher of the Year, is the PGA Director of Instruction at The Ranch Country Club in Westminster, Colorado.

Ed Oldham on the importance of helping students understand how to practice:

Helping students improve their skills is a rewarding aspect of teaching the game of golf. Collaborating with them one on one is a vital aspect of their game improvement and progress. One of the most important parts of this relationship is to help students understand how to practice. With the limited amount of time most students have to spend on the practice tee between lessons, maximizing the focus of that practice can add greatly to their steady improvement. It is important for me to sit down and prepare a detailed, personalized practice plan for them to follow. Ninety-five percent of what we learn is through experience, and the lesson process is just information – they need to know what to do with that information. I will assign drills that highlight the aspects of their game that we’re working on, and through that repetition, we’ll put it together to create a productive practice session. Practice plans may include set up checks, technique drills, and skill drills, as well as target practice to help transfer the new motion to the course. The level of detail that goes into a plan will often depend upon the student and his or her skill level coming into the lesson. Using the CoachNow app, I’ll analyze videos provided by students using the app’s voiceover notes capabilities to reinforce the material. We will be sure to discuss their feedback at the start of their next lesson. It is important to me that I ensure students use our practice plan between lessons and I stress to them that we have a bigger picture in mind for long-term progression.

Ed Oldham on the business impact of helping students understand how to practice:

When it comes to improvement in a long-term instructional program, structure in lessons, as well as practice is an important piece of the puzzle. Through conversation, we’ll determine how much time students have for practice each week and we will adjust the practice plan accordingly, keeping each drill and task in the plan, but reducing the amount of time spent on each. It is very important that the practice plan directly address the shortcomings in each student’s game. Sometimes, this practice is to be accomplished on the course, especially if I have a decent player who may be lacking in greens hit in regulation or someone having problems finishing their rounds strongly. In the latter case, we’ll emphasize the importance of those final few holes to ensure any fatigue that may set in mid-round is superseded by a drive to finish well, understanding that the last few holes are as important as the first few. Helping people play better golf will result in greater enjoyment in playing, causing them to play more often, a surefire revenue-booster for any club. Getting people through the doors is the first step in increasing golf shop sales and food and beverage revenues as well, not to mention cart revenue and lessons too. I encourage other golf professionals to make sure their students know how to practice. Don’t just tell them what to do – tell them how to do it. How often and how many!

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