There is a new breed of golf instructor emerging online and, in my opinion, John Graham is at the front of the pack. I have opened the question up to twitter and facebook asking people to share what golf blogs they read online. The only answer I get EVERY TIME, is John Graham’s blog.
In fact, Andy Plummer, one of the creators of the massively popular stack and tilt golf swing recently gave John’s blog props. He let John know it was one of the few sources online that he regularly keeps up with.
I think it is only a matter of time until we see Graham on a PGA Tour practice tee. His recent work with Aimpoint Golf as one of the few select Level 2 Aimpoint Certified Instructs might get him there.
Knowing that John consistently works to grow his knowledge of the swing and he is committed to providing the most valuable instruction he can, I was happy to snag an email interview with him.
Kevin: How did you get into golf instruction?
John: I first got into golf instruction while working as an Assistant Golf Professional at Gibson Bay Golf Club in Richmond, KY. In fact, I’m pretty sure the first lesson I ever gave was used for the video submission at my GPTP Level 1 class. It didn’t go very well. The weather was bad and I was bad. A rough start to be sure.
Kevin: How would you classify your teaching style, and why do you think that is best?
John: I guess my teaching style would be classified as guided. I was always a “why” learner. I needed to know why things worked the way they worked and why I was making a change if I was making a change. I prefer to teach that way too. I like helping the student understand what they are currently doing, why what they are currently doing is a bad thing, what change we are going to make and why we are making it.
I want the student to have to work a little during the lesson. I don’t like spoon feeding except to beginners. Once the student has a little information, I like to challenge it and see if they fully understand it and can apply it to something they’ve never seen before. I ask many questions of my students about the information so they have a complete understanding. Now, not everyone likes this style so I’m sure to find out prior to the lesson if they like to know the why.
I don’t know if it’s best. I just enjoy doing it that way and enjoy watching my student get it and understand it.
Kevin: What do you think is the most common factor keeping good players from breaking out and being competitive and why?
John:I think the most common factor keeping good players from breaking out is contact. Whether or not they hit the sweetspot over and over again. It doesn’t matter if it’s with a putter, wedge or driver. They simply do not hit it solid enough, often enough as the players that make it.
After that, I think it is face and low point control. In order to compete at high levels, the golfer needs to be able to manage curve. Both side to side and up and down. This is the only way they can truly control distance. The same is true for wedge play and putting. If the player can’t hit it solid and control the shape of the face, they will fall behind those that can.
Kevin: In your opinion, what is the most exciting new trend in golf instruction?
John:To me, the most exciting trend in golf instruction is information sharing. If a teacher wants to learn about something, they can spend time on the internet and find it. They will also find someone willing to talk about it and share what they know.
Teaching will no longer be a situation where the best teachers are those that have information that others don’t have. It will be a case where the best teachers are those that can teach, diagnose and communicate the best. That’s really the way it should be.
Kevin: What is the biggest Aimpoint misconception?
John: I think the biggest misconception about AimPoint is that it is too hard to do or that it is too complicated. It is true that the possible information that can be passed on to the student about the subject is extensive, but it all builds around the concept of finding straight.
Finding straight is a real skill and, if practiced it can be learned to a very high level. It does require practice but thankfully the practice can always be fruitful. There are only a few reasons why a person misses a putt. Eliminate the pieces that were done correctly and the culprit is exposed. People will learn why they miss. That is very valuable information.
Kevin: Can Aimpoint help, “feel” putters?
John: Absolutley. First off, AimPoint will show feel putters why they’re good if they are good. Secondly, AimPoint in it’s purest sense is a way to enhance feel. There are many things on the green that still need to be estimated when playing golf in real time. The players inherent feel needs to be used to help with these situations. AimPoint is not designed to replace feel with math and numbers. AimPoint is designed to enhance the feel a player already has.
Kevin: Where do you stand on Stack and Tilt and its rapid growth in popularity?
John: I support any piece of information that can help golfers get better. There’s no question to me that Stack and Tilt has helped golfers get better. I don’t believe that the rapid growth in popularity was caused by some cool marketing campaign as some suggest. It can help golfers that have problems over come them. It is as simple as that.
I’m not really sure where the polarization comes from about this information. Like all other information, I investigate it, analyze it and use what I can, whenever I can. I treat it no differently than anything else I’ve tried to learn. I would still like to learn more about it for my own library of information.
I see golf information like a map. When a person is first learning about the golf swing it’s like they are dropped into this huge metropolis with roads, construction and detours going everywhere. The first thing we try to do is find a way to get where we want to go.
Inevitably, we just start going somewhere. We get lost. We ask for directions. Sometimes those directions aren’t any good and we get more lost. Eventually, we get there. After we do that, we try to find the best way to go.
It’s during this phase that most golf instructors are located. They set out seeking other avenues or short cuts to get from where they are to where they want to go. Often this investigation shows the teacher that there are many ways to get where they want to go. It also shows them how interrelated all these routes are.
I continually try to expand my map so that when someone gets dropped into it, I can help them find the easiest way to get to where they want to go. It’s amazing once you understand the map and where you are on it, how the connections from new information either makes the map more detailed or adds whole new areas.
(Kevin: this little map idea will be an upcoming blog post at John’s Blog)
Kevin: What do you have planned for 2011?
John: 2011 should be a very interesting year. I resigned from coaching Monroe Community College this year so my Spring should be a little different. I have already begun traveling to do AimPoint Green Reading clinics and will continue to do so throughout 2011. My schedule is updated at http://aimpointgolfclinics.com
I hope to finish a relaunch of my website http://johngrahamgolf.com to take advantage of some of the traffic and respect my information has accumulated. I feel that a cleaner and tighter website is something that would help with my SEO and maintain the branding I am striving for.
I also hope to continue learning about social media and the internet along with continuing to help golfers of all abilities reach there goals.
John definitely brought it with the interview, never holding anything back, like always. I have to thank him for giving Tip It Out the time to complete the interview. I am sure we’ll be seeing a lot more from John in the future.