Noted PGA Of BC Teaching Professional Speaks Out On Recent Instruction Debate

Well respected Instructor Rob Houlding recently posted a commentary on his LinkedIn forum regarding the current controversy about the value of technology and science in golf teaching. An abridged version appears here...

by Rob Houlding

I have been observing (with amusement) an increase over the usual level of debate comparing ‘old school’ versus ‘new school’ teaching in golf, particularly from the staff of the Golf Channel. 


Public opinion about using technology in lessons is being influenced and there is no question "Golf Science" has come under direct fire from the media. 

In reality, the latest controversy has many of its roots coming from the public's witnessing of a fallen golfing idol.

Fuelled largely from this player's recent results and the move to a new less technically-oriented coach, "would-be" experts have brought into question the role of technology in instruction.

Image Caption : Highly Regarded Golf Instructor Rob Houlding Has Some Thoughts On Those Who Dismiss The Value Of Technology In Teaching Golf Today - Image courtesy Rob Houlding Golf

What they have almost universally failed to acknowledge are the 100 other players on tour who frequently rely on a variety of technology, sports scientists and well-educated coaches to maintain their existence. 

For example:

1)  The last three Major winners personally purchased their own Trackman

2)  Two of them also own balance plates, and 

3)  At least 80 other PGA TOUR players own their own launch monitor, high speed cameras and putting technology.

Further, at least 95 % of the tour coaches employ the best available ball flight technology and many use 6D (K-Vest’s 6D technology platform consistently and accurately analyzes the motion of a golfer’s swing in 6 degrees of freedom - ed.) Not all the time but at the time it is felt needed rather than guessing.

Let's move on..... To my friends at the Golf Channel and to those teachers who prefer to rely on old school methods, please be informed there is no such thing as "Golf Science"....There is, however, "Sport Science".

With many well defined categories and sub categories, the study of this discipline can have an impact on human performance. And many of these categories relate directly to the sport of golf and these are the fields we are pulling from to improve teaching. 

With respect to the current debate, it is difficult to view any opinions as valid without knowing that they extensively invested money and time to experience teaching both with and without it. 

Further, if one has not read the research from sports scientists and then attempted to test the author's conclusions to form one's own ideas, be you a commentator, teacher or player, you only have an uninformed opinion at best and you will be prone to making errors in your assessments.

How does this all relate to you, the student, and how you should choose an instructor?

The instructors with the "growth" mindset will continue to use their enhanced analytical skills developed through the extensive use of technology to illustrate that which they cannot see or measure themselves.

This does not mean, however, they should ever totally rely on this. 

Those of us who are most engaged with technology have found we often conduct our lessons without use of our technology because we also know the art.

The art of our message will always be what is most remembered and appreciated by the player but the art of an educated, progressive teacher will always be more effective than one less educated. 

For the past twenty years Rob Houlding has followed his passion for helping others enjoy the game of golf. As one of Canada’s preeminent golf coaches and teachers, Houlding was named the 2013 PGA of Canada George Knudson Teacher of the Year. Houlding runs the Rob Houlding Golf Academy, a state-of-the-art indoor facility in Surrey. For more visit www.robhouldinggolf.ca