Golf School or Private Lessons?


Do I need a golf school or just private lessons? What a great question to ask yourself. I teach both private lessons and I teach for National Golf Schools. Both are good but what does a student really need? Here are my thoughts and recommendations.

I will tell you that the average student learns more from a golf school such as National Golf Schools. The reason being is (for a lack of better terms) golf schools are “boot camp for golf.” The focus of an intense 2,3 or even 4 day course is great for repeating instruction and getting those important “swing nuggets” of information buried into the gray matter we call our brain. A typical day at National Golf School lasts between 7 and 8 hours! No, it is not just pounding balls at a range. It is much more than that. It covers all aspects of the game and probably one of the most critical parts, a playing lesson each day. On the hand private lessons are good for fixing a specific item but typically is not as holistic as a quality golf school. Most amateur golfers take one lesson and then never go back nor see much improvement. They then think the lesson did not work. The other reality of life is that 90% of us do not spend the time on the practice range we need to spend. National Golf embeds the training into the student through a focused core sessions.

So lesson from National Golf Schools does provide better memory retention. Too often the student who takes private lessons has the thought process of “one and done.” Take one lesson and think is it a cure all and then a year later wonder why they did not improve. With an intense golf school the student realizes it is not a one done scenario. When the student leaves the school they take with them a wealth of knowledge with them so that with practice they do see growth in their golf game.

Do not get me wrong private lessons are very good providing that the student is consistent and diligent to take lesson after lesson after lesson. Yet, few people have that dedication. Today we have many stresses in our lives pulling us many different ways and what drops off of the plate first are things such as golf lessons or tennis lessons or going to the gym. National Golf Schools understands the commitment the student signs up for and we take that commitment seriously. We know it is not just a vacation but and investment into improving the students golf game and enjoyment on the course through better play.

Another issue I have found is, one of the worst things a student can do is jump around to multiple pros. Many instructors have their own method of teaching and have difficulty matching what another pro has done. The reality is that most instructors no matter if it is golf, bowling, racing… have pretty big egos and have a lot of trouble leaving their egos at the door. Our focus at National Golf Schools is “the student is the priority not our egos.” It does not matter if I am providing private lessons or working for National Golf Schools during the interview process I always work with the student to find out if they have been working with another pro. I then work (when possible) to stay consistent with their previous instruction.

There those situations where a private lesson works very well. If a student is having an issue with just certain segment of their game or one part of their game has hit a problem, i.e. putting or pitching, then the keen eye of the local pro may be able to capture the flaw and fixed it quickly.

The advantage of a high quality golf school is that the student for a period of time is in intense focused and holistic instruction. This includes a playing lesson each day. Nation Golf Schools includes that all important playing lesson on a live course. So we take it from the range to reality and also learning many other mental aspects of course management. I know National Golf Schools provides that interface of range to reality. So daily, what we learn on the range and then apply it to reality on the course.

I can tell you after teaching both private and teaching for National Golf Schools the instruction through a golf school is intense, it does take a commitment in both time and money. Overall, a golf school such as National Golf Schools is by far the best and most effective way to go. It is the most effective way to learn, improve and


Joe Blanc, NPGIA
2012 National Golf School “Teacher of the Year”

Have Ed Sneed As Your Golf School Instructor!!

National Golf Schools now offers you the rare opportunity to have Ed Sneed, veteran PGA TOUR Player and NBC Sports Golf Analyst, as your golf school Instructor. Ed has 4 PGA Tour wins, 2 international wins and was a member of the victorious Ryder Cup team. He is an awesome player, a brilliant teacher, and a very personable man. Here is the opportunity of a lifetime to spend a few days with him for the ultimate golf school at a price that he usually gets for a single clinic. His love and knowledge of the game will amaze you.



Ed Sneed (born August 6, 1944) is an American professional golfer, sportscaster and course design consultant, who played on the PGA Tour and the Champions Tour.

Sneed was born in Roanoke, Virginia. He attended Ohio State University and was a member of the golf team. He turned pro in 1967. He worked briefly at Scioto Country Club in Columbus, Ohio, the same golf course where Jack Nicklaus learned to play golf.

Sneed won four PGA Tour events during his career. His first win came in 1973 at the Kaiser International Open Invitational. A year later he was a wire-to-wire winner at the Greater Milwaukee Open. Sneed was the only golfer in the history of the tournament to win wire-to-wire until Ben Crane did it in 2005. Sneed was a member of the Ryder Cup team in 1977. He had more than 45 career top-10 finishes in PGA Tour events.

Sneed is best known for his meltdown in The Masters in 1979. He began Sunday’s round with a 5-stroke lead. He had a 3-stroke lead with three holes to play but bogied them all. He went into a sudden-death playoff with Tom Watson and Fuzzy Zoeller, but lost to Zoeller on the second hole.[1] This was the first time The Masters used a sudden-death format to decide the Championship.

Sneed made his debut on the Senior PGA Tour (now known as the Champions Tour) in 1994 upon reaching the age of 50. His best finish in this venue is a T-5 at the 1995 Bell Atlantic Classic.

Sneed worked for eight years as a golf broadcaster for ABC television and was with CNBC in 2001. He has also done some course design consulting. He lives in Palm Harbor, Florida. He plans on providing golf instruction with director of golf, Larry Dornisch, at Muirfield Village Golf Club, Dublin, Ohio.

We see it, We feel it, We hear it

Oh NO! Why didn’t I see that!   I believe in God and what a wonderful functioning body he created for us.   Yet there are few things we do not use as often as we should on the golf course and that is our five senses, hearing, touch, sight, smell and taste. If we are playing or teaching, understanding the use of our senses can be a good 3 to 4 strokes around less on the scorecard per round.   That is a lot of strokes! So, yes, I am about to write another 15th club article. Using our brains (that is scary) to play better golf!

We all know how to teach the swing, yet through my articles the swing is only part of the equation and the mental aspect is just as important. Now, I want to spend some time talking the senses and how we use them even though at times we do it subconsciously. I want to open up our minds about our senses so that we can articulate that to our students.   I will keep this short because I could almost write one article per sense. Each of you are smart enough to expand on this short article. I am just throwing some “nuggets” out to assist you in your teaching.

Let’s start off with one basic sense, sight. We use it all through the round in both obvious and subtle manners.   But the question is: “Do our students understand that?”   Standing on a par 3 with a pond we see the pond and we know to read the ripples on the pond to determine wind.   Now on some par threes they may be surrounded by pines where we do not see or (another sense) feel a breeze.   What do we do then? I live in a retirement community and there a lot of homes and USA Flags flying.   I look in all directions to see what they are doing. Because on one of the par threes on the Lopez course, once that 7 iron gets above the pines it is going to move but on the tee box you cannot feel the wind or see the pines move much! As I mentioned I have learned to look in all directions to see what the wind is doing. So we use our sight to read the subtle signs of our surrounding.   We know how to use our sight on the greens to read the breaks and again subtleties of the breaks. Is there a sand bunker nearby? Why, well after a few years of getting sand thrown out of the bunker onto the green that will impact break. I can see the break but the subtle nature of the excess sand over the years will create some additional break to the putt. So we look around and view the obvious but do we teach the subtle?   Quickly, I have provided you some nuggets to expand on with your students and sight.

Let’s spend a few words on touch or feel. We all feel the wind but here is one aspect I want to touch on. Our feet, yes our feet, and using the sense of touch (feel) on the putting green.   WHAT you say?   Whenever I am getting ready to putt or chip, I quite often walk the general line and FEEL what are my feet doing or what am I feeling in my legs as I walk it. I know we see the putt is up or down hill but feeling the putt is important.   I just did a drill the other day with a student. I had him hit couple putts using sight to a hole (what did the slope look like). I then took a similar approach by only letting him walk the putt to get the touch or feel of the slope. He did much better putting after feeling the putt vs. just seeing the putt. He could not believe the improvement of “feeling the putt.” We use our touch is so many ways we do not realize we are using touch at times. But we are using it.   Walking into a bunker we feel is the sand fluffy or tight. We cannot touch the sand per the rule book but we use our feet to feel the texture of the sand. Our grip is mainly touch and we feel the correct tension or moisture and some many other things.   We feel “a lot” on the golf course in many unconventional ways. Feeling the denseness of the rough, how wet is the fairway or how dry. We do not bend over and touch and feel things. We let our feet and muscles compute the data.   Again, now you can expand on a few nuggets of feel to help your students understand the game.

Those are the two primary senses we use.   We do use sound yet not in the manner or to the same degree we use sight and touch.   Yet the sounds, I process the most are what is happening around by my team mates or the guy I have a few dollars on the line with.   What are they saying about course in general, what are they saying about the putts. Yes we watch their shots or their putts but also process the sounds they are making.   It may assist your next putt or shot and in some cases by making you reexamine what you are seeing or feeling.   Here is a quick example. You playing partner or competitor just hit a shot into a light breeze and that shot comes up short.   You have been playing with him for a few holes and you have sense of his game. You heard the club make sweet contact and he says, I should have went one extra club. Well to me that is data, I feel the breeze, see breeze and heard solid contact. Hmmm, now I can make a choice what how I processed that data.   So I go up a club. Now the result is I am putting and he has an awkward bunkers shot. I let information process my selection over what my ego tells me and I just won the hole.   You probably now have some thoughts on how it expand this to your students. Again I do not want to bore you with a long drawn out article.

In the end what we really do is combine all of that into “multi-modal perception.” Multi-modal perception is nothing more than a scientific term that describes how humans form coherent, valid, and robust perception by processing sensory process into train data our mind uses to interpolate our surroundings.   That is about as technical as I will ever get.

That just leaves smell and taste. That is simple we have used our sight, touch and hearing to play better and now we SMELL BLOOD in the water and we conquer!   And finally, nothing, beats the TASTE of that cold VICTORY beer you just won!  As you can see we use our senses a lot. We do not think about our senses as much because we use them so frequently. Yet how often do we teach them? Probably not often enough.   If you save a student 3 to 4 shots around just by teaching them to use their God given senses and they will appreciate it.   The 15th club at times is just as important as the other 14.  When teach a lesson that lesson needs to consist of more than just the swing. They are taking a golf lesson which includes the 15th club.



Joe Blanc, NPGIA
2012 National Golf School “Teacher of the Year”




Family Golf Schools

Family golf schools are an experience that your kids will talk about for years to come. With our class sizes no larger than 4 students to 1 instructor, just about any sized family can experience all the ups and downs of golf in their own private school. For families the amenities of the resorts are just as important. Many of our family golf schools are located in primetime destinations such as Orlando, Ft Lauderdale, Naples, San Diego, Cape Cod, Colorado Springs etc. National Golf Schools offers all-inclusive, stay & play packages with attentive service and attention to detail in all aspects of your stay. From water parks to miniature golf courses, the golf is just the beginning as families take in all that they have to offer!  Enjoy one of our family friendly golf schools for a golf vacation experience they will never forget!


St. Andrews – Old Course Article

As teaching professionals we are expected to understand all aspects of the golf swing.

Also for your student’s you should be ready to answer questions about the origin of the game.


The following is a recent article I wrote for Philadelphia Golfer Magazine.

For the past six centuries golf has been played on the Links at St. Andrews since around 1400 AD. The Old Course is renowned throughout the world of as the Home of Golf. However, it has not always been that way. Golf was becoming popular in the middle ages, and the game was banned in 1457 by King James II of Scotland who felt it was distracting young men from archery practice. And you thought you had problems convincing your wife that cutting the grass could wait another day. However, the ban was repeated by succeeding monarchs until James IV threw in the towel and in 1502 became a golfer himself.

The old course originally consisted of twenty-two holes, eleven out and eleven back. Upon completing a hole, the player used a handful of sand scooped out from the hole to form a tee and played the next hole. In 1764 the Society of St. Andrews Golfers, which later became the Royal and Ancient Golf Club reduced the course to eighteen holes and created what became the standard round of golf through the world.

Golf started to become even more popular at St. Andrews in the 19th century and the course became more crowded. The result was that golfers going out began to bump into other golfers playing the same holes. To solve the problem, the decision was made to cut two holes on each green having white flags for the outward holes and having red flags for the inward holes. This was the origin of the famous double greens, many of which could leave you with a 100 yard putt!

The Open Championship was first played on the Old Course at St. Andrews in 1873. With the 27th staging of the world’s premier golf event taking place again on the Old Course in 2005, St Andrew’s has held the event more often than anywhere else. In modern times, the Dunhill Cup and Dunhill Links Champions have been played at St. Andrews. The British Amateur Championship and competitions for men and women have been held over the fabled links at the Home of Golf.

The Old Course has evolved over time and was not designed by any one architect. The people who played a major role in shaping it are Daw Anderson (1850s), Old Tom Morris (1860s – 1900)
and Dr. Alistair Mackenzie (1930s). The course is known for its particular physical features including 112 bunkers, some of which are especially famous e.g. “hell” on the long 14th, “Strath” on
the short 11th and the Road Bunker at what is probable the most famous golf hole in the world, the 17th or Road Hole (so called because a road – which is in play – runs hard against the back edge of the green). I have had the opportunity to play from each of these bunkers (not by choice) over the years and I can assure you they are unlike any bunkers in the United States. Consequently, when you attend a National Golf School at St. Andrews you will have an extra short game session on how to play the bunkers of the Old Course.

I first played the Old Course in 1996 and immediately fell in love with it like so many other golfers. Jack Nicklaus said “I fell in love with it the first day I played it there’s just no other course that is even remotely close.” Tiger Woods said “Without a doubt I like it the best of all the Open venues. It’s my favorite course in the world.” The immortal Bobby Jones said “If I had but one course to play before I die it would be St. Andrews.” I decided that day I would try to bring this cherished course to as many American’s that I could by creating National Golf School’s first international golf school location at St. Andrews.

The Old Course has so many wonder full stories to tell. Over six centuries and 27 Open Championships the fortunes of the world’s greatest golfers played out on this wonderful golf course. The dapper Doug Sanders missed a 2 foot on the 18th of the 1970 Open and lost to Jack Nicklaus in an 18 playoff the next day. One Open in particular comes to mind when Tom Watson a five time winner of the Open was faced with a seemingly impossible shot on the Road Hole. Watson’s ball was a foot away from the wall with no back swing available. With the Championship in the balance, Watson faced the wall, hit his ball into the wall and it bounced off the wall across the road toward the green for a bogey. That shot was the turning point and it cost him the 1984 Open Championship. During a recent golf school at St. Andrews I tired to duplicate that shot. Well, the wall is uneven and as the ball ricocheted back toward the green it struck my ankle. As I limped up the fairway to the 18th green, with the Royal and Ancient Golf Club in the back ground I reminded my self to eliminate that shot from our short game session.

Over the years many golf school students have enjoyed the wonders of St. Andrews and the mystic of the Old Course along the way building their own special memories. What is truly remarkable about St. Andrews and the Old Course is that in today’s modern golfing world, the Old Course has evolved over six centuries, and remains a true test of championship golf. Join me at a National Golf School at St. Andrew’s and experience this special golf adventure. I agree hole heartedly with Bobby Jones if I had but one course to play before I die it would be The Old Course at St. Andrews.

Patrick J. Livingston, PGA
CEO, National Golf Schools
2003 & 2007 “PGA Florida Teacher of the Year”

The Unintentional Career Path

NPGIA Quarter News

   By: Joe Blanc, NPGIA Member


My journey to become a certified golf instructor through NPGIA was a unique path to say the least.  This brief article is about that my recent journey down that path.  

I was fortunate enough to retire from my first career as an executive with a fortune 500 company, at the ripe old age of 54.  I decided to assist my brother in building his business of selling golf supplies.  This endeavor  lead me to become a  sales rep for one of the hottest products in golf right now, which is the Clearview Putter,  that is how I met Patrick and Jeff.  

After working with Patrick and Jeff on the Clearview Putter, Patrick spent some time interviewing me of sorts during the Tampa Golf Fest.  Though at the time I did not know it was an interview, about my training skills and my golf knowledge.  My training past comes from training in industry in many different technical areas and people skill areas over the years in an adult training environment.  As for my golf past, I was a competitor for a brief time in Long Drive Competitions.  My father was one of the top golfers in North Eastern Ohio and two of my brothers were considered two of the top high school golfers in Ohio during the late 70’s.  One of them becoming a division 3 All American and then a PGA pro which he later relinquished.  I guess someone could say golf runs in the family.  

As we were shutting down the Tampa Golf Show, Patrick and Jeff mentioned to me the possibility of becoming a NPGIA instructor.  Patrick says he watched me interact with people on the putter throughout the 3 day event; he noticed my interactions with his staff and saw me hit some golf balls.  Patrick’s and Jeff’s initial assessment was as follows.  My interactions and basic communications with people were strong, my basic knowledge of golf was good and my swing was fundamentally sound although it would require some tweaking.  Though I tried to be calm and collected about this opportunity on the outside, on the inside I was anything but calm.  I signed up and my wife, Marti, has been my biggest cheerleader.

Now comes the important part the NPGIA certification class.  I first must apologize about the lengthy opening but I feel my background was important and the fact that Patrick and Jeff spent a lot time insuring I would be a good fit to the NPGIA family.   

The training program was one of a “relaxed intensity,” now there is an oxymoron.  Which is the way it should be.  At no time did anyone I work with ever loose sight of what we were there to do and at the same time never was there pressure to get through it.  Each of the pros I worked with, who were Mike Gooding, Jeff Estes and Tom Fleetwood spent every minute focused on insuring I had the tools to be successful.  Yet it never felt rushed or did I notice their egos getting in the way.  Their focus was on me and not how they were better than me.   

Each of them had a slightly differing approach to teaching and taught some differing aspects to achieve the base fundamentals.  But in all cases it was explained the NPGIA approach is to work with in skills and physical capabilities of the students and “not” to create a one size fits all robotic approach to teaching.  I have spent time talking to my friends about their past experiences with golf lessons and the biggest negatives are: too often the teaching pros egos impact the lesson and too often they train to a prescribed set of instruction and there is only one way to swing a club.  In short they forget about who is paying them.  This point was made clear throughout the process by my coaches.

I was very fortunate to have 3 highly qualified people to guide me first by helping me with my weaknesses in the swing which equated to a much greater understanding on how to teach the swing.  I mean my long drive swing which had way too much forward movement was no benefit to my short wedge game.

I also learned from each of them to have fun during the instruction process and it is a total benefit to first understand the student.  I will have students who are purely analytical and will want to understand every aspect of the swing.  The big watch out with this type of person is that being too casual during the lesson and this may turn that student off.  The other end of the spectrum is to understand the student who grasps the concept only through “nuggets” of information and are highly visual.  I got the tools in my tool bag from Mike, Jeff and Tom who each showed me how to deal with each type of student.  They each gave to me their tricks of the trade and their learning lessons so that I can be a complete instructor.  After all the adult learning process is one of being, hands on, one to one and a visual focus.  It is critical to first understand your audience and have the tools to deal with each type of personality and still make the sessions both productive and enjoyable.  Lesson number one know who is paying for the lesson and get to know the needs of the student.

I also appreciated the fact there was a written test which is designed to insure the student has and can recall the fundamentals of what we have learned.  The rules test also worked out well.  

To summarize, the course exceeded my expectations, the pros I worked with were fantastic in both their knowledge of the game and their ability to treat people with respect.  Now that I can go out into the world on my second career.  I feel comfortable I have the skills to go out and make people feel good about their golf game, show them how to improve and make each round more enjoyable.  


Joe Blanc, NPGIA
2012 National Golf School “Teacher of the Year”



What is the Wal-Mart First Tee Open at Pebble Beach?

Below is included a recent article written by Pat Livingston, CEO National Golf Schools about one of our junior golf school success stories.

What is the Wal-Mart First Tee Open at Pebble Beach?

You are a 15 year old female High School sophomore with aspirations to play on the LPGA tour. What are your summer golf expectations? Play in some local PGA Chapter Junior tournaments? Play in some AGJA tournaments? Spend a little time with your PGA Teaching Professional (probably a good idea)?

Well, Megan Chapman’s golf world turned upside down this summer when she played in a First Tee qualifier at the difficult Champions Gate International golf course in Orlando, Florida. A solid 74 qualified her for a spot in the Wal-Mart First Tee Open; a Champions Tour event at Pebble Beach September 2nd through September 4th.

Meghan has been playing golf for only 2 ½ years, but after just a few lessons I realized she could be a very special golfer with a college scholarship and, potentially, the LPGA tour in her future. Her parents Pat & Scott Chapman are Psychologists in the Tampa Bay area and were supportive without being intrusive like some parents tend to be with good young athletes. Meghan is very good athlete, works hard on her game, and has a mental toughness rarely found in young junior golfers.

What is the Wal-Mart First Tee Open at Pebble Beach? It is an official Champions Tour Tournament with each Professional playing with a junior partner in a team event where the winner receives a trophy on Sunday afternoon before 25,000 spectators and a National TV audience! This tournament serves as the national championship for the First Tee program, an initiative of the World Golf Foundation which provides young people of all backgrounds an opportunity to develop life-enhancing values and character education through the game of golf. First Tee and the Champions Tour help promote character development and life enhancing values such as honesty, integrity and sportsmanship through golf.

The Champions tour players treated the junior golfers as fellow competitors and gave a helping hand at every opportunity. Warming up for Meghan’s first practice round at Pebble Beach, she rubbed shoulders with Gary McCord, Peter Jacobson, Arnold Palmer and many other Champions Tour players. Meghan had golf conversations with Fuzzy Zeoller, Arnold Palmer, and Ben Crenshaw. She was interviewed by several newspapers and by Peter Jacobsen’s television show, which will be seen on the Golf Channel. Each night there was a First Tee dinner featuring speakers such as Richard Petty, Gary McCord and many other famous athletes and celebrities. Meghan was partnered with Dave Barr and played well in the tournament. The highlight of her tournament was holing-out a 45 putt for birdie on the famous 18th hole at Pebble Beach in front of thousands of spectators and a live TV audience.

Yes, there were many great experiences and highlights inside the ropes, but for me it was being allowed to experience this with Meghan as her caddy.

Patrick J. Livingston, PGA
CEO, National Golf Schools
2003 & 2007 “PGA Florida Teacher of the Year”

“NOT, another Ball in the Lake!”

This is my third article for the NPGIA and today I want to talk about our students and what I call “Dumping the Brain.”  I ask all of my students at or near the beginning of a teaching session, what do you think about when you are over the ball?   I am amazed at what I hear our students think about when they are over the ball.

Some student’s minds are working faster than an unmediated ADHD support group.  “Grip it this way”, “back slow”, “feet parallel”, “head down”, “keep towel under arm” and the best one I have ever heard, “what do I need to get at the grocery store tonight!” and the thoughts go on and on.

The grocery store comment surprised me, but I swear that is what one female student told me.   It is no wonder we have trouble hitting the ball. It is no wonder that harvesting golf balls out of lakes and ponds is a billion dollar a year business.  WE ARE THINKING TOO MUCH!

The golf swing takes about 1.5 seconds.  Considering golfers spend an additional 5-10 seconds during set up. And there is another 10-20 seconds deciding yardage and club selection.   There are way too many thoughts flooding the brain.  The realities of life are that the body is going to do what our brain is telling us to do.  Our students have too many thoughts flooding their brains consciously and subconsciously in just few seconds. Plunk! Another ball in the pond!

It does not matter if we are aware or unaware what is happening up in the gray matter we call the brain.  The totality of all of the mental processes being flooded is just going to create something very, very UGLY!  So, what do we do or what do our students need to do, to keep their ball in play and out of the lakes?   Actually it is simple and I will sum it up in three words, “DUMP THE BRAIN!”

As instructors, we need to work with our students on breaking the process down into distinct smaller processes, similar to an airline pilot’s check list.  A pilot goes through their plane in a pattern checking critical components. Once an item is “deemed good to go” that item is checked off the list and forgot about. He/she then forgets about it and moves on to the next item knowing they are good to go.   Our students need to “check off the box” and move on.   We need to DUMP THE BRAIN!  We need a solid and repetitive preshot routine.

Prior to every professional golfer today having multiple coaches including mental coach, one of the first sports psychologist back in the 70’s said the only professional golfer who could focus on golf for 4 hours was Ben Hogan.  Many other professionals have tried and failed.  The outcome was to learn to teach golfers to focus for just 30 seconds on each shot. For a score of 72 that is only thinking for just 36 minutes of thinking!  Score of 85, that would be thinking for just 42 minutes of thinking.  Sure saves on brain power.   Going from shot to shot our students need to be enjoying nature, talking about their job, kids… anything BUT golf.  “Smell the roses” is what I tell my students.

Most of us instructors use a preshot routine yet we forget to teach the preshot routine.  I know we teach the golf swing and getting the ball from point A to B yet reflecting on our lessons we should be spending as much time on what is between their ears and in their grey matter called the brain.

I am going to keep it simple- “Dumb the Brain” and SEE IT, FEEL IT and EXECUTE IT!  All of these are simple thoughts.

See it: I tell my students, get you distance (wind and incline included). Take a moment looking at the target behind the ball and do a couple of movements correcting your minor flaw which causes the student an issue.  For me I like to feel my right elbow against my body to keep it from floating.  Next I get my interim target about 12 to 18 inches out in front of the ball for my alignment.  Jack Nicklaus tried to find a spot from a few inches to 6 inches in front of the ball and Gary Player tries to find a spot 2 to 3 feet in front of the ball.

Feel it: Take my stance to my interim target, check my grip, look at the target (all items checked off the list and ready to fire). My final thought is “get through the ball.”

Execute it: I fire within two seconds of looking at my target for the last time.  If I do not fire, I back away from the ball.  The critical piece is that I trust my check list, I trust my swing and I execute the swing with authority no matter if it is a driver, a full 5 iron or a soft half sand wedge.  The swing is completed with authority and confidence.

The final thing I want to mention.  Talk aloud to yourself! Yes, that is right, talk aloud to yourself.  You are not crazy!  They have found that speaking (softly) to yourself provides better connections to your brain at all levels.   The last thing I say to myself aloud is “get through the ball.”

Your pre-shot routine may be different than mine and guess what that is not wrong.  What works for you or your student is what is important. Teaching your students to “dump the brain” and create a solid consistent preshot routine will provide a better experience for your students and keep a few less balls out of the lakes and ponds.


Joe Blanc, NPGIA
2012 National Golf School “Teacher of the Year”




Practice with a Purpose

I have worked with many different types of students and they all ask the same question: “Why do I hit the ball better at the driving range than on the course?” How many times do we hit a bad shot on the golf course, drop another ball and then hit the shot of the day. Another comment I recently  heard at one of our Florida Golf Schools was: “I wish I could take a second shot all the time. My second shots are always much better.” There is in fact a reason why we always seem to improve when we take that mulligan.

The reason is that many of us do not practice with a purpose. Every time I go to the local driving range to work on my game, I see someone hitting driver after driver trying to hit the ball farther and straighter. When I surveyed some of the customers hitting balls at the range at one of our Orlando Golf School locations, many of them said they were working on their driving swing. In golf it is important to remember that we have the same swing with every club, unless were working on our short game. We need to keep in mind that the only thing we need to change when hitting different clubs is our ball position. We need to practice how we play and have a good pre-shot routine.

It doesn’t help our game if we are focused on the course and have a great pre-shot routine but then go to the driving range and hit 100 drives without having any focus, pre-shot routine or target in mind. I discussed with many of my students how often they practice before they play and it was a split. Some of my students hit around 30 balls before they go to the course and some hit none. I recommend for the player who gets to practice before they play to start with some stretching and then work with a wedge and progress to a driver to get warmed up. The player who does not practice before they play should start with some stretching and then warm up with a few drives.

If the driver is the first club you hit at the course it should be the club you start your practice session with. The whole theory behind practicing with a purpose is to make the time we have to work on our game valuable and more similar to the time we spend on the course. A great way to work on our game at the range is to have a great pre-shot routine.

The next and last important piece to practicing with a purpose is to simulate golf on the range. Take a score card from a course that you have played and play the course while you’re practicing. Example; the first hole on your home course is a par 4, Hit your driver for your first shot, (remember have a fairway, green or target in mind for each and every shot.) On your next shot, hit one of your irons. The next hole might be a par 5: For your first shot hit your driver, next shot hit a 3 wood and then a pitch shot with your wedge.

By practicing with a purpose you will start shaving shots off your game and understand why you hit the ball better at the range than at the course.


Jeff Carreira
PGA Award Winning Teaching Professional
VP, National Golf Schools

How to Make a Successful Swing Change!

The amount of time it takes to change our golf swings is equivalent to the amount of time it takes to relax and stop resisting the change. Anytime we are fighting or resisting the “the move”, or any time we are upset about it not yet having taken effect, we are further energizing the tension and resistance to our bodies. We are actually pushing away what we are trying to attain.

Nick Faldo, the most accomplished English professional of modern times was winning his share of tournaments. However, he had not accomplished his goal winning the British Open in particular or one of the other three “Majors” in general. He went to David Ledbetter, a top five instructor in the world to develop the swing he needed to go to the next level. Faldo fought the changes at first, but his ball striking became better he finally accepted the fact “mentally” that this is the swing change that would allow him to accomplish his dream of winning “Major” championships. A year and a half of slow physical success allowed him to “Mentally” accept the changes that needed to be made and to go on to win six Major Championships including the 1987, 1990, and 1992 British Opens and the 1989, 1990, 1992 Masters.

Prior to his swing change Nick was known as “Nick Faldo” because he could not close tournaments with a win.

After Nick mentally accepted the changes to his swing from Ledbetter he became a dominate player in the 1980’s and 1990’s.

Curtis Strange stated after his swing change Nick stared a lot of guys down. He never choked. He had a way of folding is arms and looking at you as though he knew you were going to make a mistake.

Granted, a swing change can take time. I suppose it can be somewhat difficult too, but it can only be as difficult or take as much time as we tell ourselves it will take. Otherwise, with zero resistance, what we are trying to achieve would literally unfold instantaneously before our eyes.

For our swing changes, the change really happens in an instant. It is our resistance to change that ends up taking so much time.

Quote: “The game of golf is not how many good shots you hit, it’s about how few bad shots you hit’

                                                                                     Jack Nicklaus


Patrick J. Livingston, PGA
CEO, National Golf Schools
2003 & 2007 “PGA Florida Teacher of the Year”