A tip from a pro shop hack

For the last few years I’ve occupied kind of a unique position here in the golf industry.  The person who works in a Pro Shop that came to golf later in life.  It’s unique because most of the folks that surround me are people who have played the game most of their lives - and at a high level, to boot. 
 
The only thing high about my golf game is my score.
 
I often feel I relate better to some of the stories our golfers tell than those around me.  I still remember the first time I broke 100 (a 99 at Arbutus Ridge) and the first time I broke 90 (Cedar Hill, 87 – stop laughing at me, I know it’s only a par 67).  I’m still waiting on breaking 80 (82 at Cordova Bay, so far…).
 
I can relate to the OB shot on 5 and 8 and 12 - all in the same round. I can also relate to the story of the great round ruined by a 12 on hole #14 (two OB, one in the lake, one over the back, three putt). Most of all I can relate to the desire to play better.  Not play awesome, not play like the pros, but simply play better. 
 
One thing I can tell you, as a hack working with all these fantastic players, is the best tip I ever figured out: Tips are worthless. 
 
I can’t count the number of times I’ve been there when a player comes into the shop desperate to find some way to fix the putting or the driving or the chipping or the mental game or the … you get the idea.  They’ll corner a pro and beg to be given some nugget of wisdom. The pro always looks a little uncomfortable; people think that it’s because they don’t like giving away free advice, but it’s not that.  The pro knows that what they’re about to say is mostly worthless.  A tip without the context of the swing is like a verbal contract: good in theory but completely unreliable in the real world.
 
There’s another thing I can tell you, too.  I have seen dramatic, lasting improvement (and believe me, I pay attention).  There are epiphanies in golf.  Every time I’ve seen them, though, they’re after a lesson.  I pay attention to these things because I want to play better golf.

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