The Best Golf Instructor I Ever Had

Evan Kander Golf Instruction, More Leave a Comment

Hey, idiot in the oversized polo!  You’ve been teeing up that driver for over an hour now, and your pervading sweat stains are starting to cause concern to those around you.  Take a look at the elder gentleman five stalls down.  He’s been staring at you like that, mouth gaping, for the last ten minutes, and his tee time’s in five.  The kid in the cart picking up your wayward dog-hooks just put in his two weeks over Walkie Talkie, and yesterday was his first day. 

You need to be set straight, kid.   See this thing behind me?  It’s called the practice green.  It’s where you rid yourself of those eight inch lip-outs BEFORE your round starts, and if you’re lucky, you might even go two consecutive holes without a three-putt.  

You see that other green-colored thing way out there in the distance?  That’s where you’ll spend time once you realize that getting up-and-down—only after shanking a 20-yard chip into a bunker that was completely out of play—isn’t going to help that handicap of yours.  And Mom and Dad won’t be too happy either when they find out you chucked their birthday present in the pond…again.   Also, buddy, we both know you want the cart girl’s “digits,” but let’s take baby steps, alright?  Your brown polo…it was red when you got here.  And you just made fly-trap Joe miss his tee time.  Do us all a favor and put the big stick back in the bag, and consider putting a spare polo in there too.

That’s more or less how I see things going down if I ever have the chance to confront my teenage self.  What follows are a few invaluable lessons, taught by one of the best instructors I could’ve hoped to learn from as a kid:  My balder, yet wiser, future self.

When You Live in the Forest, Learn How to Chop Wood 

If you’re going to spend hours on-end at the range, why not work on expanding your one-dimensional repertoire?  After all, hitting the ball 350 yards isn’t going to pay the bills when you’re constantly lying one from someone’s bedroom.  Believe me, I’m still paying for that guy’s window you broke two years from now.

When you’re not digging through people’s bushes like a sweaty peeping Tom, you’re usually stuck behind some other form of vegetation.  I know, facing your issues isn’t easy, but why not nip this in the bud and start working on some punch shots?  You know, golf’s “get out of jail free” card.  Because, believe it or not, most golfers don’t feel the need to wear a cup for protection when they play.

Use the Head On Your Shoulders Before the Head On Your Driver 

Remember that triple bogey you took on #3 yesterday?  The next time you go three over on a 380 yard par 4, you might want to go ahead and exit the course.  From now on, when you’re playing a sub-400 yard hole, leave the driver in the bag.  Pull out an iron and leave yourself a reasonable chance at making par.  In other words: Use your head, idiot.

Priorities, Kid, Priorities!

I’m sorry if I embarrassed you at the range earlier, but someone had to penetrate that thick skull of ours.  You’re dangerously close to 40+ putts a round.  Translation: You’re taking as many putts as every other shot put together.  I’m no genius, but this might be a red flag, and you might want to focus a bit more attention on that part of your game.  While you’re at it, put the camera away; analyzing every facet of your swing is only going to take your eye off the ball.  It’s time to show some faith in the practice you’ve put in.

The Bar Can Wait

I know they have the best chicken wings.  Believe me.  I get it.  But I promise the wings aren’t going anywhere.

Next time you finish a round, work on what needs fixing.  Too many 3-putts?  Work on your lags.  Having trouble putting it close from the greenside?  Start chipping.  THEN you have my full permission to take down some wings.  Oh, also, watch your weight, you’re starting to look a little chunky.

Is the Circus In Town?

Dear lord, man.  Let’s forget sweat stains for a minute…look at your shirt.  Is it long sleeve or short sleeve?  You look like the “after” photo from a weight-loss infomercial.  Get a job and go to Kohl’s, which just so happens to be conveniently located next to Xsport.  Consider paying them a visit while you’re in the area.

Perspective, Perspective, Perspective

A wise man once told me that great golfers typically fall into two categories: Mentally gifted and mentally ignorant.  Sorry to break it to you, but you missed the mark on the “gifted” category when you got held back in 1st grade.  But, hey, ignorance is bliss, and bliss is invaluable when you’re playing a game that’s responsible for numerous mental breakdowns—two of which you’ll experience this upcoming season.  Hang in there, you’ll get through it.


Above all, you need to remember that you’re playing a game.  If you hit a bad shot, no one’s losing a life, unless they happen to be standing in their bedroom window; even then, as one of my idols (Happy Gilmore) would say:  He shouldn’t have been standing there! 

Just remember, one of these days, you’re going to have a career, a family, and real responsibilities.  When that time comes, you won’t have the energy to sulk over a bad round.  So, do us both a favor, and start growing up.  Your handicap, your therapist, and everyone who owns a house along the course will thank you.

Cover Photo via Flickr

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About Evan Kander

Evan has been playing golf for over 20 years.  After countless shanks, hooks, tops, and duffs, he’s still coming back for more.  Why?  It’s simple.  Golf is a fickle analogy for the game of life.  Watch any successful Tour player after a bad shot.  How do they react?  Do they head back to the clubhouse?  Donate their long-iron to the nearest pond?  No. . . they move on to their next shot.  Knowing, with certainty, they’ll get up and down to save par.  Golf is the best game in the world because it teaches us how to live life.

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