IN OUR GROUP of guys, if someone starts giving unwanted golf swing instruction mid-round to another, the would-be instructor is ostracized from the group. He will be shunned. No one will play or partner with him in competition. He’s a black sheep to be avoided and ultimately banned from the group.
Why is that any different for couples or partners? Most commonly it’s us men, who tend to be the know-it-alls, giving our wives golf advice. That includes the guy who hits a 175-yard slice with his driver to no particular place. Never mind that he can’t make a putt to save his life, or stop from releasing his wrists on chip shots that result in constant skulls. Somehow the guy who can’t play dead transform into the next Butch Harmon, just because he’s the spouse-in-charge-or-at-least-he-thinks-so.
Giving golf advice to a partner or spouse is almost always a bad idea, unless you are a teaching pro and you’re not on the golf course. Your guy is just not qualified. He doesn’t know what you are doing wrong or how to fix it. His mind isn’t like yours, nor is his language. The entire psychology of the situation is set up for failure, even if he’s the one asking you for advice.
“For wives it’s important to be appreciated,” says Tara Lipanovich, LPGA Professional and head of Silverado Resort’s women’s golf instruction. “Guys are fixers. If you ask a guy for help or advice, be careful what you ask for. You guys are trying to fix and we hear it as criticism and get resentful.”
Silverado offers women’s schools and will even allow husbands in them, but not husbands and wives together. Lipanovich says: “We would not teach them together. Golf schools for couples can be very difficult. You literally hear women tell men, ‘Would you shut up?’”
Silverado PGA Professional Michelle Busam says men use a language foreign to many women, such as “open the clubface.”
“You can’t generalize, but men tend to be more left brain,” Busam says. “Women are more right brain and need encouragement and empowerment.”
It doesn’t even work the other way around. When Busam tried to teach her husband – she is qualified, after all – he rejected the help because he wanted to figure it out for himself.
The most common piece of bad advice the pros hear men say to their wives?
“Men say to their wives, ‘Don’t look up.’ The minute women follow that, all you see is nothing but an upper body swing with no lower body motion,” Busam says.
It can be a little tricky telling your man to butt out of your game. A couple of suggestions are to say, “Thanks for the advice but I’m working with my instructor on my game.” Or, “I don’t want to get too technical today; I’m just enjoying the round and the company.” If he keeps pressing, a firm “I’ll let you know when I have a question” should suffice.
So forget about the advice. Instruction ruins the golf experience. Stay in the present. Hear the birds, think only of target, ball, swing. Enjoy the company. The best advice is not to give any advice.
ADVICE ON GIVING GOLF ADVICE
Three tips you absolutely should share with your spouse:
- Unless your spouse is a golf pro, don’t ask for advice.
- In some rare cases, if you are asking him or her to watch for something your pro has you working on, feedback is OK. But make it clear all you want is one particular shot, otherwise it will snowball into a round-long nuisance.
- Don’t make the experience mechanical. Enjoy. The best advice is no advice.
Why not think about going to a golf school for women? There’s a comprehensive list in the Fall issue of GottaGoGolf Magazine.