One of the themes of this year's PGA Teaching and Coaching Summit has been ways to use technology to understand the golf swing, whether through high-speed video, shot trackers, launch monitors and pressure plates that measure center of mass and center of pressure.
It's just the latest in a series of advances in golf instruction that go back almost to the beginning of the game, according to legendary golf instructor David Leadbetter, who detailed the way teaching has evolved since movie cameras captured the swings of Bobby Jones and Ben Hogan.
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But he cautioned PGA professionals in attendance during Monday's session not to rely so much on today's technology that they use it as a crutch in teaching students about the game.
"Technology plays a major role in our lives, not just in golf," Leadbetter said. "I really admire that everybody is taking technology on. I think it's very important though to use technology wisely."
How to do that? Leadbetter, who worked with Nick Faldo and Nick Price, said it's important to not lose sight of what technology can contribute to the overall teaching experience.
"Instinct plays an awfully big role," Leadbetter said. "I think as teachers, it's very important to sort of rely on instinct. It's great that we all know all these (advances in technology), but golf is still about getting the ball in the hole. Remember, all this stuff is just a tool. Hopefully, we won't be out of a job. We have to be there to interpret those numbers."
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What's happened, in Leadbetter's opinion, is that with advances in technology, the focus on instruction has evolved away from helping beginning players.
"So much of golf instruction today seems to be geared to the good player," Leadbetter said. "And let's face it, that's fine, it's fascinating, it's great. I and many other teachers have established a living teaching good players. But we're talking about the masses -- the 15-to-30 handicappers. We need to grow this game. We can't make it more complicated. We need to have all this knowledge so we can make it simpler, not more complicated."
Complicating matters is a change in consumer habits. The world moves at a much faster pace than it did even a generation ago, and golf instructors have to adapt to a clientele that neither has the time or patience to work on their golf game the way they might have 20 or 30 years ago.
"Today, people have less time to play and practice," Leadbetter said. "Time is a huge factor in everybody's lives. You can see that by the numbers. There are less people playing golf. They don't have the time to play golf.
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"If you bombard them with information, is that going to make it simpler? In many cases, it makes it more complicated. So we have to be very judicious in how we hand out that information. And get to the point very, very quickly. It used to be 'Did you want a quick fix or work on it over a period of time?' We have to do both. People want to see instant results."