Tee Time Upgrades Teaching Staff

Bob E. Smith has joined the staff at the Tee Time Practice Center in Carpinteria. A former PGA Tour player, Smith spent 15 years on the PGA Tour, five years on the Champions Tour and eight years on the European Tour.

He was named Southern California PGA Senior Player of the Year in both 2005 and 2006 – and his amateur record was just as impressive. He won the 1965 and 1967 Western Amateur Championships, the 1966 and 1967 Porter Cup Championships, as well as the 1967 California Amateur Championship. In 1967, Golf Digest voted him the #2 amateur player in the United States.

Most recently, he has been teaching at Olivas Park in Ventura and has been coaching the Ventura College Golf Team.

Smith credits former PGA star George Knudsen with guiding his teaching approach. Knudsen, a Canadian, was thought to have the best swing on the PGA Tour during the ‘60s and ‘70s. (While he was a great ball striker, he was a mediocre putter and thus did not win as often as he could have.) He wrote “The Natural Golf Swing,” a book that lays out in full his ideas for the game, ones that Smith has adopted in his teaching curriculum.

Smith emphasizes a passive hand approach, one that uses the big muscles to hit the ball. Byron Nelson told Smith once, “The hands do one thing in the golf swing and that is to hold onto the club.” Smith took this advice and it has shaped his teaching philosophy.

Smith has a professional approach to teaching and he has a vast knowledge of the mental side of the game as well as a strong grasp for the proper fundamentals. On top of all that he is easy to get along with and sincere in his effort to help you with your game.

Bob Smith can be reached on his cell phone at 444-0333.

GolfTec

Another new teaching option is GolfTec, a chain of indoor high-tech teaching facilities that opened up recently on Haley Street in downtown Santa Barbara. GolfTec has five locations in Southern California and several hundred spread throughout the United States. Students are filmed using the latest technology and software, including the use of two digital video cameras, computers and a strap-on harness that delivers biofeedback tones to their clients. Instructors go through a 10-day training program at GolfTec’s National Headquarters. The teaching facility encompasses 2,300 square feet with four hitting bays. Students are given access codes that enable them to review their lessons on the Internet at their leisure.

Trevor Broesanle, formerly of Sandpiper Golf Course, is GolfTec’s head instructor and he is joined by Jonathon Avedon and Mark Helfand, who was formerly with Copeland.

The fee for one month is $675, including an initial evaluation, five lessons and one month of practice. GolfTec currently has 300 students in Santa Barbara.

GolfTec is located at 126 East Haley Street. For more information visit www.golftec.com or call 884-1847.

Are Golfers Getting Gorse?

The USGA has come out with a troubling statistic. The average handicap for golf players in the United States is now 19. In the 1970s the average handicap was 17.

One can draw many different meanings from this, but one thing is for sure: The use of video in golf instruction has grown dramatically in the last 30-plus years, but it has not resulted in lower handicaps. We live in a digital age surrounded by incredible technical innovation that has enabled us to get more done in less time. All this is done with the use of our “left brain” (the technical side), but better golf requires improvement of your “right brain” function and feel for most players.

Allow me to say that golf instruction has taken the wrong turn in its reliance on video and left brain analysis. In the old days the better golf instructors just looked at your divots to tell what was happening. Surely, the camera does not lie, but the real key to getting better is to convert technical knowledge into a new feel. The best instructors use video occasionally, but concentrate on getting the student to feel the changes. A word to the wise: be open to new golf instruction, but monitor your results.

A popular approach among less talented golf instructors is to tell students that they have major changes to make that will take months, and they try to prove this through video. This keeps the student coming back for more even though he or she is not getting better. This is a hook and don’t fall for it. Chances are you will never improve with such an instructor. My advice is to give a new instructor a set time, such as a couple of months, to show you improvement. If you don’t think that you are getting better, move on.