In a March 2006 Links Magazine article regarding the Top Courses, George Peper apologized for devising such a ranking while working at Golf Magazine. He acknowledged the following:
Twenty-seven years ago while editor-in-chief of GOLF Magazine, I perpetrated something called “The Top 100 Courses in the World.” For that mistake, and everything it has wrought, I am deeply and eternally sorry.
GOLF Magazine has also established its Top 100 Instructors listing. Obviously they didn’t get George’s message.
I know a few of the names on this list. I read their monthly columns from time to time. What amazes me is that many of their efforts deliver topical remedies most experienced instructors know. There aren’t many new thoughts, just semantics. I wondered what qualifies an instructor for this list.
I thought some of the attributes might include the following considerations:
Instruct Tour players
Operate their own teaching academy
Teach at a recognized golf club
Be a quality player
Have a Masters or Doctorate degree
Be associated with a recognized teacher
Have their own TV show
Many of these teachers are deserving of recognition. But don’t stop at 100. Oh my, gosh no. Several more are worthy or this recognition. If you wonder what the difference is between one of these Top 100 Teachers and others working weith adults and juniors on a day-to-day basis, I’ll tell you. It is marketing pure and simple.
I don’t doubt some of these noted instructors are qualified to make up such a list but how many are reaching out to the mainstream that comprise the golfing public? Teaching tour players provides a wonderful platform for recognition and marketing but what task is more difficult – teaching a player with incredible talent or one with very little? How wide is the moat they’re sticking their Trackmans into?
These days some of the teachers to the “tour stars” throw down their technological voodoo to refine swings a few tenths of a degree off kilter. However most know a tour player’s success lies between the ears and on the putting green. Quite often they just need to be told they are the best player in the world. I know several individuals capable of performing that task.
Yet others are instructing players with multiple degrees of inefficiency. Their challenges are often visible to the naked eye. I doubt many of these mainstream swingers are hitting the “fitness trailer” six days a week. Tour players they aren’t but they still want to improve. It’s like the old saying – “when the student is ready the teacher will appear.”
The best teachers in the world are the ones who interact with their students on more than the aspect of swing improvement. They promote the enjoyment of playing golf at every level. They talk about the history of the game. They inform players about the benefits of equipment features. They go out on the course with their students and observe/direct their playing habits. They highlight basic rules applications. These are the best teachers in the game and in too many cases they go unrecognized.
A top teacher in my book might instruct juniors in the morning, conduct a beginning ladies clinic in the afternoon and finish up with a variety of individual sessions before sundown. There might be a chance to grab a drink and half a sandwich between appointments. Through all of the time spent with his/her students the professional is intent on improving other’s games. This happens day in and day out. Instructors you’ve never heard of providing the connection to help others truly enjoy playing — scores of instructors not mentioned on GOLF’s list.
Currently the PGA of America boasts some 28,000+ members. For a magazine to single out 100 teachers is shortsighted. In a way it is also an insult to those who teach and promote the game throughout their career. I expect better of a national golf publication. It’s like paying an eighteen hole greens fee and only playing one hole.
So for those whose teach under the radar for the love of the game, CONGRATULATIONS! You’ve made my list. I won’t limit it to the first triple digit number. My list is malleable. One thing is certain. If you’ve just given your first lesson or hit four figures, your efforts have made a difference to a person who loves golf. That is the main criterion for my list. But more importantly we need to grow the list of players discovering the great benefits of our game. That is the list that matters most. Go add to it.