By Kiel Christianson
Steve Whidden is a PGA Master Professional and Director of the Steve Whidden Golf Academy at Rosedale Golf and Country Club in Bradenton Fla. He was selected as the 2010 Southwest Florida PGA Teacher of the Year.
Whidden is actively involved in junior golf instruction, as Director of the Greater Sarasota Junior Golf Academy, and is also an editor and writer about golf instruction for various SW Florida publications. He offers one-on-one instruction and on-course lessons, and of course, instruction through SwingFix.
1. First off, talk briefly about your golf instruction philosophy and how you preach it at your facility.
WHIDDEN: I have been teaching for 20 years, and over that time a lot of different thoughts, observations and opinions on the golf swing have come down the pike. My job is and always will be to teach 99 percent of the golfing population, the recreational golfer. That said, as an instructor I come across a huge range of sizes, ages, flexibility, skill and desire. We are not all the same and can’t be taught the same. However, the thing that all golfers want with the full swing is three things. They want it to go up, go straight and go as far as possible. There are some indisputable skills that lead to these three things, and this is what I teach. All of my teaching revolves around impact, from putting all the way to the driver. I pick out the one thing we need to work on to get the club on the ball at impact in the most efficient manner. I’m also a total golf instructor, meaning that for anyone to lower their score regardless of their skill, the short game must take the largest percentage of practice time.
2. What attracted you to the SwingFix platform and how effective can this method be for golfers?
WHIDDEN: The SwingFix platform is exactly how I believe video feedback should be handled. As instructors we must prioritize what needs to be fixed first and work from there forward, not bombard a student with 10 things they are doing wrong all at the same time. The SwingFix platform keeps it short, simple, and to the point, with examples of drills and video feedback, which is a great way to learn!
3. In your opinion, what is the secret to taking the "range game" to the first tee?
WHIDDEN: Taking the range game to the first tee is a question that has been asked over and over for years. What I think really needs to be addressed is the skill that is being produced on the range to make the ball act the way it does. Does the student understand how they’re making the ball act the way it does? For instance, a requirement to hit a good iron shot is to take a divot at the ball or slightly ahead of it. When the player gets on the course, are they rehearsing a practice swing with just that skill in mind, or are they going through every golf lesson they have ever taken while over the ball? So taking the range game to the course involves the teacher making sure the student understands why a ball acts the way it does and taking good, real practice swings prior to the execution of the shot on the golf course with that one skill in mind.
4. Is there a particular training aid that you tend to use most regularly and with the most effectiveness?
WHIDDEN: The most effective training aid I use is a simple alignment rod. This tool can be used for so many different things. For instance, it can be used to correct a swing plane problem by sticking it at an angle in the ground. It obviously is great to use for learning alignment and aim. I put it about six inches behind the ball and have the students try not to hit it on downswing to avoid a scooping or lifting motion of the clubhead. One of the greatest teachers of all time, Davis Love, Jr., had one training aid, spray paint. Sometimes simple is best.
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.?
WHIDDEN: My students improve the most because I remind them that in golf it’s not just the full shots that are the fun shots. An emphasis on the highest percentage shots, meaning 100 yards and in, is the key to lower scores, and happier golfers!
Take an online lesson with Steve Whidden.