By Kiel Christianson
PGA Master Professional Ed Oldham grew up in North Platte, Nebraska, where his father was the Dean of Students and the golf coach at the local college.
The younger Oldham thus grew up around the game, and in high school, he asked to work with Rich Skinner, the head pro at the North Platte Country Club. That was when he got hooked on the joy of playing and teaching golf on a daily basis.
"The part of the business that is most rewarding for me," says Oldham, "is to help people get better at golf. Regardless of the skill level, it feels good to put a smile on someone's face or help them to get more enjoyment from golf."
These days, Oldham calls the pristine environs of The Ranch Country Club in Westminster, Colorado, home. But you don’t need to travel to Colorado to avail yourself of his instructional expertise – he's one of the newest members of the SwingFix staff.
1. First off, talk briefly about your golf instruction philosophy and how you preach it at your facility.
OLDHAM: Success at golf comes down to being able to control your golf ball. You need to hit targets with your full swing and control distance with your short game. Golf swings are as different as fingerprints. Everyone's is unique. The tours are full of unique swings that obviously work pretty well, and all successful golfers are good at controlling their golf ball. I try to figure out what the golfer does well and what needs to be done to enhance that golfer so they can control the golf ball better. Improving impact is the priority.
2. What attracted you to the SwingFix platform and how effective can this method be for golfers?
OLDHAM: Not all golfers have the resources or the time to seek out the better instructors. Even though the SwingFix platform isn't a full in-person lesson, golfers have the opportunity to get advice from some of the country's top golf instructors. What makes the SwingFix platform effective is the quality of the instructors and the fact that we can attach swing drills individually for the students and communicate with them directly through the messaging platform.
3. In your opinion, what is the secret to taking the "range game" to the first tee?
OLDHAM: Practice like you play. If someone is working on something new in their swing, block practice is recommended until they are accurate with the change most of the time. Block practice would be hitting the same shot to the same target over and over. Once you are accurate most of the time during your practice, change to random practice. Change clubs and targets often. Hit a different shot each time while at the range. Studies have shown that random practice leads to better performance with the new skill. Practice more like you play and your on-course performance will improve.
4. Is there a particular training aid that you tend to use most regularly and with the most effectiveness?
OLDHAM: I use a lot of shafts, sticks and swim noodles when building practice stations for students, but the training aid that I use most often is the Swingyde. The Swingyde is a training aid that helps golfers to find a square clubface position, among other things.
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.?
OLDHAM: A five-shot drop in scores coming from one part of the game is rare in my opinion. I offer several different coaching programs that allow me to not only work with a student's swing but also help them in other areas of the game, such as short game, course management, practice strategies, etc. If someone has a goal of lowering their handicap by five strokes, I suggest that maybe we can get 1-2 shots from several areas of the game. For example, if the student can control his/her golf ball better, maybe we can eliminate penalty strokes, hit more greens and save a couple of strokes. Eliminating a couple of three putts from each round may save another 1-2 shots and working to get the chips closer to improve the up-and-down percentage might save us another shot. That would be my approach to lowering someone's score by five shots.
Take a lesson with Ed Oldham.