Learning Golf Vs Learning Guitar

WHat happens when a golf coach becomes the beginning student and tries to learn how to play guitar? Will it change his view on how players learn golf?

Have you ever thought about learning golf? Or… Have you ever wanted to learn how to play a musical instrument? 

Here’s my story…

Like many teenagers, at one point I dreamed of learning guitar and being in a rock and roll band. Now mind you, I did not play any rock and roll type instruments. 

In junior high school, when it came time to sign up for band, I wanted to play the drums. For obvious reasons that I understand now, my parents put the kibosh on that very early. 

To be honest, I really don’t even remember how it happened, but I ended up learning to play an oboe. Yep… the oboe. This is a little known fact about me that I don’t often share with others.

The few times that I have shared this little known fact, I usually am asked if I was any good. I will say as a freshman in high school I did make it as the 1st chair All-County band playing the oboe.

Now… don’t be too impressed, because here is… as Paul Harvey would say… the rest of the story… I was the only one that tried out. Yes, this is a true story.

After my freshman year of high school, I no longer played the oboe as my interest went other directions. However, this gave me a small music background as far as notes and how to read a little bit of music, which will be important a little bit later in the story.

Being a child of the 80s, I grew up in the middle of the greatness of Eddie Van Halen, Randy Rhodes and attended many air guitar contests. I just thought playing guitar was something I could never do. I mean… I told myself that it was too difficult.

Story Of Getting My Guitar

Let’s go back to my late twenties. We lived in Houston, Texas and we were surrounded by a lot of great live music. Personally, I fell in love with genre that has come to be known as either Texas Country or Red Dirt Country music.

During this time, we had a very good friend that would often come over to our house and play his guitar and sing as we enjoyed a Friday or Saturday night out on the patio. 

I was always envious of him wondering how he could just hear a song one time and be able to play it. Yeah, he was kind of like that friend that could eat anything and still lose weight. Grrr.

Fast forward to September 2017, we were now living in Florida and had the experience of living through Hurricane Irma. 

After Hurricane Irma came through Florida, we had our friend from Texas (who was now working in the insurance business) contact us as he was assigned to our area in Florida. Of course, we were happy to have him stay with us… as long as he brought his guitar.

It was not long after he arrived and we were having personal “concerts” on a regular basis on our outdoor lanai. For those of you not from Florida, a lanai is our screened in area around our pool. Haha 

Knowing how much I enjoyed this, my friend ended up buying me an acoustic guitar as a thank you for letting him stay with us. 

And… so my  journey of learning to play guitar began.

How I Started To Play Guitar

Here is where this story may start to sound like your golf journey.

I was very excited to learn how to play this guitar and I was positive that I could just go to YouTube, watch a few videos and start playing my favorite songs and in no time too. It can’t be that hard…Right? Sound familiar?

Well… Not So Fast.

I was at ground zero when it came to learning how to hold the guitar, how to tune the guitar and let alone how to form my fingers to play a note. By a note, I mean ANY note. 

Then, once I could one strum a couple of notes, there were still properly strumming the guitar to a rhythm. And… once I was able to get my fingers in the right place to play a note, the proper strumming pattern… I still had to learn to keep strumming while I tried to sing. 

It was a disaster. 

To equate this to golf, I was first learning the parts of the club, what a proper grip for me is, how to properly stand to a golf ball, how to take the club back, learn what impact should feel like as well as a proper finish position.

I was a true beginner. Being a beginner was very overwhelming to me. I mean VERY overwhelming. I often wondered how in the world I would ever learn all this.

My Youtube Journey

So I took off on my YouTube journey and I believe it was a lot like many beginning golfers experience when they start looking up how to play golf on YouTube.

There were sooo many instructors and it seemed like every single coach had their own method to do it “properly.” 

How did I know which one to follow?  It was confusing… I mean… I was confused.

Many videos were listed as beginning guitar videos however, they were already WAY over my head.  Again, frustrating.

One instructor would say to play a chord one way and then the next video I watched that instructor would tell me to play the same chord a different way. Sound familiar with golf instruction?

I  called my friend to talk to him about my confusion. He said that many songs go in patterns and he gave me just four chords to concentrate on and to learn.  

Now keep in mind, my fingers  still weren’t moving very fast at this time. So if you heard me play at that time, it sounded like plunk… plunk… plunk. 

In retrospect, this ended up being very important for me. It gave me something to concentrate on and not change what I was working on with every new video on YouTube. Again, sound like your golf journey? 

In addition, I could see my fingers moving faster in the chord changes, feel myself hitting the strings in the proper place and (maybe most importantly) hear the progress being made. I am sure my wife was grateful as well 🙂

These were quick wins that were keeping me motivated.

The One Year Mark… How Was I Doing?

So at the one year mark…  Yes, the ONE-YEAR mark. I had consistently practiced for that long.

I was able to play the four notes my friend had given me (plus a couple of others) in any basic order that was needed, 

At this point, I could also play multiple strumming patterns at different beats per minute but I still really could not play an entire song. Still frustrated? You bet!

It was not like I wasn’t practicing. I had the calluses on my fingertips to prove it. It was so bad I really couldn’t feel anything with the fingertips of my left hand. 

I was afraid as much as I wanted to do this that it was just something I was not going to be able to accomplish.

With teaching golf for a living, I knew that I was not giving myself the best chance that I could to learn. It was past time for more help than just YouTube. 

Time For Guitar Lessons

In all fairness… I had been trying to get into a beginner guitar class that was given through a local college for months. Many people had recommended it to me. I was finally able to enroll a year after I had started “playing.”

In addition, I had received a few lessons for Christmas from another instructor in which I had now taken. 

I was not only excited to take these lessons and classes to improve my guitar playing but also as a teacher/coach myself, I was interested in how the time was structured, how they deemed what would be best way to practice as well as how they communicated during the sessions to improve my motor skills.

Every Coach Should Be Good At Teaching… Right?

The experiences were vastly different from coach number 1 to coach number 2. 

First of all, just let me say… I was so nervous walking into my first guitar lessons that I thought I was going to be sick. Yes, it was very intimidating. Again, sound familiar?

Coach number one helped calm me down as there was a detailed plan of what we were going to be doing for the next eight weeks. The plan kept building on what we had done the week before. I really liked this structure as it is how I conduct my coaching as well and I told myself “I got this.”

When I walk in with Coach number 2, I was asked “What would you like to do today?” With my coaching experience, I kind of bit my tongue and kept my thoughts to myself but I was thinking… I don’t know what I don’t know… so… How would I know?

There were definite differences in how each coach taught as well. When I was struggling with something we were working on, the two coaches handled it very differently. 

Coach number one would take the time to ask me how I thought I needed to do it and actually give me hints (without directly telling me) on how to do it easier. Then guided me through it slowly and then encouraged speed as I felt comfortable. 

Meanwhile, coach number two kept coming up with the same answer… “just do it like this.” Ummmm… If I could… I would. 


Now… I realize that I’m an unusual student. 

For starters, I am also a coach. A coach that has spent MANY hours learning and researching how people learn motor skills as well as how hten learn golf. I’ve spent many hours watching other high-end instructors communicate with their students to get the best results.

As I’ve gone through the experience of learning guitar as a rank beginner, I’ve started thinking about how it relates to golf instruction. 

What is important for learning? 

  1. Making the first time student (beginner or not) feel comfortable is important. 
  2. Creating an easy to understand and challenging but achievable plan is important. 
  3. Allowing them some time for self-discovery is important. If I tell them the ‘correct answer” after every question or swing, the student will never figure it out for themselves. and become dependent on me.  
  4. Giving the students “quick wins” even if it is not “correct” is important. 
  5. The language that the instructor uses is very important. The beginning student is not used to the “slang” that others are used to using. 

There is NO question in my mind that learning to play the guitar has helped me become a better golf instructor or golf coach. 

As a seasoned or beginning golfer, how do you know how to find a good teacher, instructor or coach to help you to learn golf? It may take taking lessons from a few different instructors/coaches before you find one that you feel comfortable with and can communicate with at a high level. 

To help you find the best golf coach for you to learn golf, I have written another article that you can find here… click here.

If you are looking for a way to get the most out of your golf lessons, I have written an article about just that as well… Click here to read

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