My name is Daniel Dwyer and I am the Director of Golf at Ipswich Country Club in Ipswich, MA and I would like to share what I have learned to be key golf fundamentals. I have been in the golf industry in various positions since 1982. I started as a caddy and then moved on to other jobs such as cart runner, grounds crew, golf shop attendant, food and beverage assistant, touring professional, coaching, assistant professional, and head professional. These various positions have allowed me to grow as a professional and as an adult. My time as a caddy taught me life lessons of work ethic, responsibility, and to respect my elders. Playing professionally in the United States and overseas was a particularly special time of my life and allowed me to build lasting friendships and the travel was incredible.
The most rewarding part of my golf experience has been introducing beginning golfers to the game of golf and helping them learn golf fundamentals. The first ladies clinic I taught was at the age of 16 at Mt. Hood Golf course. The Head Professional was sick and asked me to fill in. I was so nervous that I stuttered and spoke very quietly through the whole thing, I felt like it was a disaster. Thankfully one of the students pulled me aside and said that she really learned a lot and I was very patient with the group and I should stick with teaching. Since that day, I have grown and learned as a teacher and have been instructing golf fundamentals to beginning ladies, men’s, and junior clinics at every course I have worked. Some of the rewards that I have reaped from these clinics is getting a call from a former student about his first professional tour win in Asia, as well as having many of my students play in college with a handful of them receiving Division 1 scholarships. Some other teaching victories include seeing a pair of ladies win the 4th flight of the Member-Member after only taking up the game four years beforehand.
With years of learning from other Professionals that I have worked with and attending seminars, my knowledge has expanded from that nervous kid 29 years ago. I have developed a few thoughts on the beginner’s game that I would like to share:
I always start by evaluating the student’s goals. Everyone has different goals ranging from feeling comfortable playing with other members, all the way to winning the local Club Championship. As a teacher, it is most important to understand what the student’s expectation are first, that way we can tailor a program to fit the student/group’s needs.
The second step in my teaching process is the grip. More bad swings are created as a result of an improper grip. By working on the proper position of the hands, you may see an instant improvement with this alone.
The third step in my process might be the most important and the most overlooked. Aim, like a bad grip, will only lead to bad habits in the full swing. It only takes a couple of minutes to put down a club to ensure proper alignment. This will help you maximize your practice session.
The final step is to set-up to the golf ball. Golf is an athletic sport and a good set up helps to make a full swing to match your body type. There is no one swing for everyone but there is a swing for everybody regardless of age, mobility, or injuries.
The quickest way to get out on the course and feel like you belong is the short game. I recommend to practice putting and chipping as much as possible. The Professionals on all of the tours can hit all the shots but what separates the best players from the rest of the field is putting and chipping. Set realistic goals for yourself such as two-putt every hole, getting out of the bunker in one stroke, or just getting on every green with a chip for 18 holes.
Thank You for taking the time to read this. The game of golf is a rewarding, life-time activity that can be exactly what you want it to be. It can be social, competitive, relaxing, and a good way to spend time with family. Please get out and start swinging and remember that learning the proper golf fundamentals in the beginning will greatly increase the time it takes to get you on the course.
Daniel R Dwyer, PGA