By Kiel Christianson
Brian Crowell is currently the PGA Head Golf Professional at GlenArbor Golf Club in Bedford Hills, N.Y., and has been a golf instructor since 1991.
He has been recognized with several teaching awards, including the Horton Smith Award for outstanding contributions to golf education, ranking on the list of "Americas Top Instructors" by Consumer Research, and being named one of the "Top 50 Junior Instructors" in the country by US Kids Golf.
Brian is also an author, whose latest book, Slice-Free Golf, has been a commercial and critical success (slicefeegolf.com).
As if all this didn't keep him busy enough, Brian does regular stints on TV as an analyst for several networks and co-host of The Golf Channel's Golf Digest Equipment Special, as well as on the radio, where he hosts The Clubhouse throughout the golf season on AM 1230 WFAS in New York.
Brian has a lot going on, but he always has time for SwingFix lessons, too. And he squeezed in some time to answer our Five Questions:
1. First off, talk briefly about your golf instruction philosophy and how you preach it at your facility.
CROWELL: I think there are four critical components to great instruction:
1) Solid knowledge of the swing
2) Great communication skills
3) Prescribe effective practice methods
4) Provide enthusiasm / entertainment.
My instruction philosophy begins with the goals of each individual student. Creating a comfortable dialogue is an essential step, followed by a general assessment of the student's swing. Great instructors resist the temptation to say too much too soon. Be positive, encouraging, and address one issue at a time. My ultimate goal is to help each student to enjoy the game of golf as much as possible.
2. What attracted you to the SwingFix platform and how effective can this method be for golfers?
CROWELL: I'm a huge fan of the current 'Golf 2.0' concept, which addresses the challenge of growing our sport. SwingFix is an exciting concept that allows a wide audience access to excellent instruction in a very affordable way. The award-winning staff of SwingFix instructors have excellent teaching tools at their fingertips and can provide timely, personalized advice to a student on the other side of the country! Thanks to SwingFix, students can take a quick clip of their swing, send it to their favorite instructor, and get accurate advice without scheduling hassles or the need to travel to the instructor's facility. The system works.
3. In your opinion, what is the secret to taking the "range game" to the first tee?
CROWELL: Practice like you play. How often do you casually hit 30 7-iron shots in a row off a perfect lie, while playing on the course? NEVER. Golfers need to practice more effectively. Always choose a target, make a rehearsal swing or two, visualize the shot you're about to hit (even imagine being on a familiar course faced with a typical shot), and then make your swing. Change targets often, and before leaving the range, alternate between clubs a bit. Imagine that you're 'playing' the first few holes of your favorite course (i.e: driver, seven iron then driver, hybrid, sand wedge, then 6 iron, etc.). Switching targets and switching clubs more frequently can make your range time more effective.
4. Is there a particular training aid that you tend to use most regularly and with the most effectiveness?
CROWELL: Outside of alignment aids, the most effective 'prop' I use is Hogan's 'plane of glass.' In his book, Five Lessons, Hogan describes the swing plane with an image of a pane of glass. I've taken that concept and actually constructed a similar 'plane guide' out of a huge sheet of foam insulation. Students get an instant understanding of where the club should swing when I introduce the foam! This technique has been incredibly helpful to my students at GlenArbor, and with SwingFix, I can create that same plane with a line drawn on the student's video.
5. Is there a way students who have worked with you most often dramatically improve and achieve that coveted five-shot drop in scores? Power, consistency, short game, management, playing more golf, etc.?
CROWELL: Why stop at five? I've had students chop 10, 15 even 20 strokes off their scores! I get tremendous satisfaction from curing slices. A 'slicer' who finally feels the joy of powerful, solid contact is on their way to a new, heightened level of golf enjoyment. But in other cases, course management, short-game technique or confidence with the putter leads to dramatic improvement. The joy of golf instruction is finding what works best for each individual student. But my ultimate goal remains: Helping more students to have more fun with golf -- and SwingFix is an excellent option.
Take a lesson with Brian Crowell.