I am often asked if there is a difference between teaching and coaching men and women. The answer is both yes and no.
Yes, because there are obvious physiological differences between men and women which make teaching them a very individualistic dynamic endeavor.
No, because one thing is certain, the golf ball doesn’t know what gender is striking it. Or for that matter, what age or skill level. It only reacts to the angle of attack, the direction the clubface is pointing and speed of the club at impact. The goal, male or female, is to strike the ball in the center of a square clubface each time. Getting there takes many routes.
From a physical standpoint, men in general are taller and/or have better upper body strength than women. This literally allows them to muscle the club through the ball. I see quite a few male amateurs who make only an arm swing and do not make a good turn with their shoulders. This creates a lot of inconsistency, but they can still get the ball to move fairly good distances.
For women, me included, upper-body strength is not something we are blessed with and as a result, an arm swing does not allow us to create much clubhead speed, so we must use our bigger muscles in our backs and lower body. Women are generally more flexible than men, and as a result have the ability to make a good shoulder turn. However, this is not always the case. I encourage women to use the bigger muscles of their body to move the club away from the ball and turn through to the target fully to create as much clubhead speed as possible. This keeps their hands fairly quiet in the golf swing, plus they use bigger muscles rather than small muscles of the upper body to swing the golf club.
I have watched way too many men try to hit the ball way too hard. I think this comes from watching PGA Tour golf and seeing the great distances that the pros hit it. Of course, we all aspire to hit the ball far, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to swing fast and try to hit it hard. My approach with these type of swings is to suggest slower takeaway, with the better turn that will result in getting the club into good positions throughout the swing resulting in a consistent solid strike the golf ball. A ball struck in the center of a square clubface will travel much farther (and straighter) than one that is hit with a glancing blow.
Women, especially novice players, tend to try to lift the ball up into the air rather than letting the club do that work. Perhaps it is that they are trying not to take a divot but this is in fact, what they should be trying to do. If you saw the LPGA pros play a few weeks ago here in Naples, you saw fluid swings with an impact position that is no different from the guys ? their bodies are turned through impact, their hands are ahead of the ball, and their divots start after the ball, indicating a descending angle of attack.
The golf swing is the golf swing. What really differentiates it are the physical attributes and athletic ability of whomever swinging the club. Strength plays a role, but obviously flexibility does also. An efficient golf swing has good fundamentals and is a series of simple movements that we tend to make much more difficult than they should be. If the fundamentals and sequence of events are good, then the club gets into the correct positions and results are usually good.
To get to those results, a good instructor/coach guides the player, male or female, to a simplified technique that has unique attributes based on the physicality of that player. So while the answer to my earlier question is really built around the individual student and correcting poor technique.
What do you think? I would love to hear from you to find out your thoughts on this and any other topic related to golf. Let me know what you would like to read about.