By SwingFix.com staff
In the world of golf instruction, Erika Larkin has made quite a name for herself in a short period of time.
After finishing her playing career at James Madison University and graduating with honors in 2002, Larkin decided that she wanted to teach the game she loved for a living and she has excelled in that capacity.
She is just one of 20 female members of the PGA of America to be PGA Certified in Golf Instruction and she was honored as the winner of the Mid-Atlantic PGA Section’s most recent Teacher of the Year award.
Larkin is currently the Director of Instruction at Stonewall Golf Club in Gainesville, Va., and she was kind enough to sit down with us to cover a variety of topics.
1. What would you consider to be some popular myths about golf instruction, meaning things that most average players believe are true but actually are not?
LARKIN: I think a lot of golfers think a bigger backswing = more distance. There are many factors in a swing that can increase power and swing speed, but for most people, a longer backswing just causes breakdowns and instability. I tell most people to try and maintain their posture and the width of their arms before I would tell them to wind up more. Groove your control first and you will be surprised that power and consistency will come!
2. What do you see as the biggest benefits or advantages when it comes to the SwingFix teaching platform?
LARKIN: SwingFix's biggest advantage is being able to provide "homework" with attaching drills and videos to the lesson, as well as the opportunity to follow up with the student through direct messaging. It’s more personal than it may appear.
3. What aspects of the golf swing do you think most of the players you teach have trouble understanding?
LARKIN: I think the "release" (delivery of the clubface though impact) is a hard concept (even for instructors!). It's the fastest part of the swing and has the biggest effect on your shot direction and the quality of contact. The best players have the best releases and can control ball flight
intentionally by changing it if they want to. A lot of average golfers flip or scoop their wrists too much, too little, too early or too late for reasons related to, or not related to, other swing issues. They may just be misunderstanding the "release" sometimes and try to do the wrong thing.
To simplify the concept, and it does come up a lot in lessons, I usually recommend working on short to medium pitch shots to slow things down and understand what is going on. If there is a problem with the quality or timing of the release it will show up here, and you can then work on trying to fix the problem, whether it be grip pressure, body movement, tempo, ball position, etc. Don't fear - this is why we are here, your instructors, so we can help you figure this out!
4. What advice would you give a golfer who is going to seek out professional instruction for the first time?
LARKIN: In doing your research for a professional, I recommend looking for a well-rounded coach that you connect with (personality, teaching style) that seems to really care about you, and someone that is able to help your GAME and not just your swing.
5. What is the most valuable aspect of the lesson process for most golfers?
LARKIN: Even though several thoughts may be covered during a lesson, I think it's important for the student to walk away with a clear understanding of the priority so they can work on correcting things in the right order. Then, knowing how/what to practice and what to expect during practice (ex. "you may see a few of these drill shots go to the right") the student can make more progress and not detour away from the fix if they aren't getting the results they want at first. It's important to remember that making changes in a swing is a process and usually not a one-step process, so if a student can stick to a plan for change, it really helps both the student and the instructor.