If you are first learning to play golf, it absolutely pays to take lessons. It also does not really matter who you take them from, as any certified PGA instructor will be able to get you started on the basics.
The big problem is the rest of us: those that already play golf, meaning those of us that already have bad habits. For us it is tool late to start from scratch. For us, the choice of instructor is very, very important. That is where Charlie King comes in.
Ever since Ben Hogan wrote the seminal “Fundamentals of Golf,” instructors across the globe have been trying to get students to swing like Hogan. The only problem with this is we can’t do it. In its annual PGA Teaching Summit, even the PGA recently recognized that what most of the golf teaching world has been doing for decades is dead wrong. When it comes to golfers, it seems you really can’t teach an old dog new tricks.
I’ve seen countless instructors try to take someone with a bad ingrained swing, and instead of tweaking it to work, they try to break the student down and rebuild them in the classic Hogan model – and it never works. Maybe Tiger Woods can make wholesale swig changes but most of us are not only going to never play on the PAG Tour, we’re never going to break 980. What most amateur golfers need is a serviceable and somewhat consistent swing so they can enjoy golf. Thee reason golfers develop odd swings is because they are comfortable and fit their bodies, flexibility and abilities. For most of us, the Hogan model does not. It does not feel comfortable and it does not work.
What the instructional business has finally accepted is that its fine to be Jim Furyk and have an unusual or even abnormal swing – as long as you square the clubface at impact. Very little else matters.
Enter Charlie King. King is regularly ranked among the nation’s top instructors. He is also the author of the ironically named “New Rules of Golf Instruction,” an e-book that preaches a new philosophy of what instructors should have always known – to work within the student’s own swing and limits rather than some theoretical ideal.
King runs the golf academy, now renamed the New Rules Golf School, at Reynolds Plantation in Georgia. For those of you unfamiliar with the place, and I would guess that’s most of you, Reynolds Plantation is the best golf resort in the country that many golfers have never heard of. It sits on Lake Oconee, the second largest in the state, has 116-holes of excellent golf by Nicklaus, Rees Jones, Fazio, Jim Engh, Bob Cupp and a Pete Dye course under construction. It is also home to one of the nicest Ritz Carlton hotels – easily their best golf property – and has both the excellent golf school and the headquarters of the Taylor Made Tour Experience, where visitors can go through a high tech tour quality custom club fitting experience – the same ones Taylor Made tour pros like Sergio Garcia use to select their equipment. Reynolds has the full complement of resort offerings, restaurants, spa, tennis, watersports, and is an incredibly beautiful place. It’s also easy to get to, an hour from Atlanta’s Hartsfield, the nation’s busiest airport.
Why more people don’t go is beyond me, but now there is one more reason: Charlie King.
By the way, I don’t endorse King lightly. I have been to the man myself, shortly after another instructor insisted I change the way I cock my wrist and downswing in order to produce bigger divots. When I told King this he said, “forget that, you’ve been playing too long to make that kind of change,” and proceeded to give me some advice that paid off instantly. If those are the kind of results you want, go to Reynolds Plantation, see Charlie King, get custom fitted for clubs, and then play the excellent golf courses they have. You really can’t have that combination of quality experiences anyplace else.