I can still remember my first lesson over 19 years ago, it was at a small municipal golf course called Otis Park in Bedford, Indiana. The pro Craig Heibert had come highly recommended and was offering free 10 minute golf lessons as part of the PGA's free lesson month.
I had started playing golf when I was 13 years old and was completely self taught along with a little help from my Grandfather. My best friend and I had discovered my Dad's old clubs stored away in our barn along with the some really old golf balls and we decided to try and wack the ball around the yard and our woods.
I had never seen or even heard of my dad playing golf, the only person in my family I knew who played was my Grandfather but the minute I hit that ball I was hooked. I became obsessed with trying to figure out how to hit that little white ball as far as I could. We started to walk a local 9 hole golf course called Pinewoods in Spencer, Indiana it was so much fun but I had no idea how horrible I was. My first 9 hole score was a 70 and that was probably being generous, 4 or 5 mulligans.
I remember shooting a 53 and beating everyone in my family, I had no idea what a good score was so I thought that 53 was pretty dang good. The guy in the clubhouse asked if anyone played well and I immediately piped up "yeah I just shot a 53"! He went "ooh" and then chuckled under his breath. It was then that it hit me, 53 on 9 holes was not a good score. So what was a good score? I was determined to find out and shoot one.
We played with mulligans but not gimme's that would be cheating lol. Fast forward 5 years and I had become a decent player by my standards shooting low 90's but not able to break through that hump, in fact I shot 7 straight rounds of 93 in my quest to get into the 80's. I had some pretty comical breakdowns to shoot that magical 93. I'd shoot a 43 on the front and then a 50 on the back nine as I went into full melt down mode knowing my goal was in reach. The amount of work I did to keep myself from breaking 90 was comical.
I saw the free 10 minute lesson with Craig and decided why not. Getting help wasn't something we did readily and the idea of paying someone to help you play a game better was absurd. The day came and we warmed up at the driving range as we waited for Craig to come out, when he did he was pushing a small tower with a tv monitor on top. Craig had a video camera and a screen that could be drawn on. Craig watched me hit a little bit, recorded a video of my golf swing and then we looked at it as he broke it down.
Craig didn't change a whole lot in that 10 minutes, he changed my grip ever so slightly. I was anxious to see if he thought I could be good enough to shoot in the 80's so I asked him what he thought. His reply was "you should be shooting in the 80's every time you tee it up and you could probably shoot in the 70's". I didn't know anyone who shot in the 70's so as far as I was concerned that was a fairy tale.
Less than a week after the lesson I played 18 after work and shot a 78, I hadn't even shot in the 80's yet! After that day I broke 90 most every time. Since I had now broken into the 70's I became obsessed with getting back in the 70's and going even lower. Shortly after Craig moved a little more than 2 hours away and I continued trying to get back into the 70's on my own.
After 5 failed years and more frustration I decided to try some local coaches but never had the same effect that Craig had. So I bucked up and called Craig and made the drive 2 hours away, by this time I was shooting 70's on a regular basis but just couldn't quite break par. I put a plan in place with Craig and we started working together on a semi regular basis (twice a month).
My goal was to break par on a consistent basis, I was already one of the best players I knew and a decent amount of people came to me for golf lessons or to teach their kids. I was not satisfied and ultimately I really wanted to compete in tournaments. Craig broke down my swing and my game and we went after every area that was a weakness, he taught me how to keep my stats and much more.
After working with Craig for several years I became a very good player, breaking par on a consistent basis, making eagles regularly, chipping in, holing out and other things I had only previously dreamed about. My handicap got to a +1 and I started competed in the Indiana State Amateur Championship, this was a pretty prestigious event in Indiana that you had to qualify to get in, I qualified 3 straight years (the only years I attempted).
I wish I could say I went on to play professionally but that simply wasn't in the cards, I am however a full time Golf Instructor, I am currently the Director of Instruction at the Golf Club of Texas in San Antonio. I have had the privilege of meeting PGA Tour players, top 100 instructors, Major Champions, Going to the Masters and dining in the Clubhouse. All things that would have never happened had I not made that trip down to Bedford, Indiana to visit Craig Heibert and get some help with my golf game.
So get a lesson, find a pro you like and who has some good players. You never know where it will lead and the doors it will open!