When coming back to the game after an absence, managing expectations is very important.  We have all had setbacks in golf; they could be due to a long winter in the north or an injury.  Once we start playing again, the competitive juices begin to flow and we naturally have expectations of picking right up where we left off. It happens to everyone, from Tiger Woods to our students.  It is very hard to manage expectations.  As golf teaching professionals, we need to help our students by developing a proper game plan for their return.  Without a game plan, they will be set up for heartache by not immediately performing to their prior ability. One of my current students, whom I have been working with for a few years, has been playing the best golf of his life over the past year.  His handicap had gone from an 8 to a 3.  Four months ago, he had to have reconstructive surgery on his left ankle.   This was a major surgery that had a great impact on his golf game.  He was not allowed to play for three months.  To make matters worse, the repaired ankle supports his entire weight at the finish of his golf swing.  The closer it came to his return to the course, you could tell how the excitement of getting back had begun to consume his thoughts.  All he would talk about was how great he was going to play, how much practice time he was going to devote to the game, and how he couldn’t wait to start playing in tournaments.  When we sat down to visit prior to his first round, I asked him to follow some guidelines. I recommended that he play the front tees on par 5s and long par 4s, playing one tee back from the front tee on everything else.  I also had him play the ball up everywhere and gave him two mulligans per hole.  At first he was not happy with my request, he was ready to start shooting low scores and beating his buddies. By doing this, golf was free of pressure.  He hit some poor shots without the penalty of having a bad hole.  It was fun.  The shorter course allowed him to swing within himself without putting more stress on his ankle.  The mulligans gave him the ability to redo a few poor swings or bad course management decisions. When dealing with students making a comeback of any sort, we need to help manage their expectations.  This will help their golf games in the short run, plus show your students you are there for their long-term success.
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