January 31, 2019

Scott Puailoa: Get Students to Practice With a Purpose

Scott Puailoa is the PGA Director of Golf at The Valley Club at Montecito, in Santa Barbara, California.

Scott Puailoa on the importance of getting students to practice with a purpose:
How many golf students pay for instruction, show up for lessons, commit to new clubs, and even make time to practice between lessons? Well, if we’re doing our jobs, then most of our students are as committed as the person who follows these steps. Unfortunately, there is one vital aspect of this student profile that has been omitted – the notion of practicing with a purpose. What might sound cliché is actually the most important part of the improvement process. On the range, students can simulate on-course play. They can practice the nine-ball drill, working the ball in various directions and with different trajectories. They can even go through their full routine, simulating full holes on the range. Even a simple block practice is helpful to progress, as the student hits a good deal of balls with one or two clubs, honing his swing mechanics. Breaking up range practices into segments, setting goals, and formulating a plan to achieve those goals is an important concept for students to embrace. On the course, I teach students the importance of a post-shot routine, yes, what they should do AFTER hitting the shot. To me this is more important than the more popular pre-shot routine. After hitting a shot that didn’t work out as planned, I have them go through the swing they had desired when they hit the actual shot. They will take a swing, sometimes two, or even three until they get the feeling I need them to realize. This vast awareness of their swing helps them understand that you can’t live and die with every shot. They’ll hit some good ones, and strive to repeat those swings. But when the shots are sub-par, work on the swing you wanted, not the one you just used.

Scott Puailoa on the business impact of getting students to practice with a purpose:
This thought process helps students of all skill levels. For beginners, it helps them understand that there are many failures with which to deal in our game, and that’s okay, as long as you work on the desired swing. By getting virtually all my students on the golf course relatively quickly, I’m able to help them understand the post-shot routine and why we do it. By objectifying your bad swings, you take ownership of them, and use them as learning opportunities. On the contrary, just getting angry at them doesn’t help the next time you step up to the ball. The most important part of the post-shot routine is to achieve that desired feeling and then move on to the next shot. Taking only positive vibes to the next shot is the key to better results. Having a roster of students improving their skills and enjoying the game is the best sales tool for a growing golf instruction business.


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