Breaking 70: Seeing the Improvements

After countless hours on the range, John is starting to hit it better and go low.

John Boag

It is thanks to GM, Ping and Steve North that I am now seeing the benefits of golf lessons.

I have one regret about my time playing golf it's that I wasted many, many years listening to the horror stories of friends that had taken a lesson.

They terrified me with tales of how their game had been ruined by a so called pro and instead of helping them had ruined their enjoyment on the course.

I would watch on in shock, as once good golfers that would hardly miss a fairway were now unable to find one.

Seeing and hearing this put me off ever taking a lesson and thus my game stagnated at a 9 handicap.

Yes I could be pretty handy off 9 and on occasions have one of those rounds where nothing could go wrong, but all too often I would be half way round looking at a good cut when my swing and then confidence would desert me.

I would run up a few silly numbers and go from front runner to trying my heart out just to hit buffer.

The biggest problem I had was with my driver, I would always play with a fade which on bad days would be a wicked slice.

But I could occasionally control it after all I had got down to 9 and shot a few rounds of 3 and 4 over in a medal so it could not be that bad could it.

Alas I was fooling myself, following just 3 lessons with Steve North from St Andrews my swing has been transformed.

I have in the last few months changed my grip, posture, swing path and all my clubs.

During this transition everything about my game felt weird.

I was so uncomfortable when standing over the ball that I would spend an age just trying to get a good feeling and my game and scores were sliding down hill fast.

I have had more down days than up and was very close to calling it a day early on, my game like so many of my friends before who had made changes had fallen apart.

I was struggling to break 100 never mind 70.

I had no idea what I was doing or where the ball would go and actually did consider that I had made a mistake entering this challenge and questioned GM's and Ping's wisdom in selecting me.

I was advised on numerous occasions by playing partners to bin it all and go back to where I was as my game was good before all these changes, apart for my driving that is and to just get the coach to focus on that.

Thankfully I found out the secret ingredient that all my friends had failed to after their lessons, that was to work hard on the changes at the range.

Spend the time bedding in the new swing etc by hitting balls, and continue to do so until you are comfortable and can repeat it on a regular basis.

 I am determined to see through the changes recommended by Steve and have faith in what he is trying to do.

I have spent more time at the range in the last two months that I have in my entire golfing life.

I try and arrange a range visit at least twice every week when work and family life allow me the time.

This has seen a vast improvement in my scores with a recent bounce game seeing me in with a score of one over.

During this round I had 9 birdie putts and converted none so there is potential in me to reach this target of breaking 70.

Unfortunately over the last month I have been really busy at work and not had the opportunity to play any medals due to being on call and have only managed a few bounce games here and there.

But at last my game feels solid, my confidence is high and scores are tumbling.

I really am looking forward to the challenge and at the very least I will know I have done all I can to break 70.

I know that if I were to fail to break 70 by the date set in the challenge I will continue with the lessons and carry on with the same work ethic until I do.

Steve North
Top 50 Coach

Location: St Andrews Links 

Steve is responsible for the delivery of the world class instruction and customisation at St Andrews Links, and has ultimately helped establish the Golf Academy as a respected innovative leader in the industry. Specialising in the use of analysis software and technology, he continues to keep at the very forefront of instruction. He has gone on to play pivotal roles for the Scottish Golf and University of St Andrews coaching programmes. During this time, he has also coached numerous players to national titles across the globe. Over the years, Steve has conducted golf clinics for some of the world’s leading corporations, including Allianz, Brooks Brothers, HSBC, Credit Suisse, RBS, Chase Manhattan Bank, BMW, Audi, Bayern Munich FC and FedEx.

Students learn best when....

They fully understand their swing DNA. Most golfers do not fully understand why things happen in their golf swing, both positively and negatively. Once you fully understand you can make huge strides in developing your game. 

Most significant influences on your teaching:

There have been many individuals who have played a significant role in my development over the years, but none more so than David Leadbetter. I was fortunate enough to work for David for many years in the Far East and leaned an incredible amount relating to the physics, synchronisation and timing of the golf swing. Out with David, I would credit TrackMan, who have developed an incredible technology, which in turn has enabled us to explain a whole host of data to clients in an understandable manor. Undoubtedly, this has helped revolutionise instruction and custom fitting. 


Biggest challenge:

Dispelling myths relating to the golf swing, stats and course management.