By Mark Harman, USGTF National Course Director
In early 2005, a hook crept into my game and caused me all sorts of problems. Although I was fortunate enough to win the United States Golf Teachers Cup at The Quarry in San Antonio, Texas, in the fall of 2005, I did it with smoke and mirrors. I couldn’t keep my driver in play at all, and halfway through the first round I shelved it for my 3-wood…which wasn’t much better, but at least I could keep it down to a healthy draw.
Finally fed up with being unable to fix the hook on my own, in 2008 I went to see a teaching professional in Fernandina Beach, Florida, named Mike Benjamin. I knew Mike from my days of living in Tallahassee, Florida, and knew he could teach high-level players. He accurately diagnosed the reason for my hook: My left shoulder moved up and out and my right shoulder moved down and behind me to start the downswing, producing a clubhead path that came from too far inside. This is something I could not see on video or figure out on my own. Mike gave me several things to work on.
There were good days and bad days going forward, but I knew I was on the right path. It took me about six months before I could say the hook was cured. Today, while I hit the occasional hook, I don’t fear it and it’s no longer part of my normal swing. Mike’s instruction was valuable to me in another sense, because I now have more tools at my disposal to fix a student’s hook. So I encourage every USGTF member to seek out another qualified instructor and take a lesson, whether you think you need one or not. You’ll most likely learn something new, and may even be able to incorporate it into your teaching methodology. We all have an obligation to continue to learn, and taking a lesson is a great way of doing just that.