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Teaching Philosophy

How and Why I Teach Golf – By Wayne DeFrancesco

The human individual is equipped to learn and go on learning prodigiously from birth to death, and this is precisely what sets him or her apart from all other known forms of life. Man has at various times been defined as a building animal, a working animal, and a fighting animal, but all of these definitions are incomplete and finally false. Man is a learning animal, and the essence of the species is encoded in that simple term.

In this light, the mastery of skills that are not genetically programmed is the most characteristically human of all activities. . .There are some skills you can learn on your own, and some you can try to learn, but if you intend to take the journey of mastery, the best thing you can do is to arrange for first-rate instruction.”

George Leonard (President of the Esalen Institute, founded by Michael Murphy)

As you look at this website for the first time your initial question is probably along the lines of: “Who is this guy and what is this all about?” I usually run around on the internet for two reasons: first, because I am naturally curious and have an interest in seeing what is new and different in a variety of subjects, and second, because I have a particular interest in golf and anything that might hold original and/or cutting edge information that might help to make me better at playing and teaching the game of golf. I figure you are here for much the same reasons. Well, stick around and read on, because I am dedicated to bringing you golf instruction in ways that you have not seen or heard before. I can promise that you won’t be disappointed, unless, of course, you are looking for quick-fixes and guarantees of “great golf in 2 weeks”, or other such mindless marketing proclamations of fast talking golf instructors.

So let’s answer the question of “who is Wayne DeFrancesco and why am I spending time to find out what he knows?” If you look at my career history you will see accomplishments of two sorts, playing and teaching. I would almost completely discount the teaching accolades and awards. Why, you may ask, would I downplay such things as being selected Teacher of the Year in my PGA section, or having been a member of Golf Digest’s 50 Greatest Teachers and Golf Magazine’s Top 100 Teachers? In all the time I have spent as a teaching professional not one person has ever specifically observed my teaching in order to see if I were qualified for any list or award. All of these so-called “honors” are bestowed upon instructors for no real reason whatsoever other than reputation, political connectedness, or association with high profile players, either from the celebrity ranks or the PGA Tour. As far as I’m concerned, as soon as an instructor stops teaching beginners he or she ceases to be qualified for any honors or awards. And stop to consider exactly who it is that is bestowing the honor of being a “top” teacher: I’ll tell you who- magazine editors. If you had the experience of working with them to try to get a decent article printed with any sort of detail or information beyond a 5th grade level you would better understand the ludicrous nature of teacher lists.

So, if you can’t trust the national magazines, how do you know if a teacher has anything to offer? I would say that you have to look at the students and their successes, but then we fall into the trap of focusing on high profile players. It is certainly a skill to help the already great to become better. My guess is that if you are reading this you don’t fall into that category. I would be more inclined to look for someone who regularly teaches players of all levels, from beginner to Tour, and has success with all of them (not every single one, of course, but most). Now, I realize that you will not be able to come to Woodmont Country Club and observe my teaching methods. I will, however, try my best to give you a full account of what I do with all levels of students. There are a couple of reasons why I am particularly qualified to do this: first, I have always been, and remain to this day, a competitor who strives to play at the highest level. Second, I have fought with chronic injury all of my adult life, have been forced to quit the game 3 times, and have undergone a complete overhaul of my swing in order to be able to continue to play. I never made the PGA Tour. I did, however, win the National Club Professional Championship, played in one U.S. Open and 5 PGA Championships, was low Club Professional in the 1995 PGA at Riviera, won 3 State Opens, 3 Section Championships, and was Player of the Year in my section 4 times. Just last year I qualified for and played in the Senior PGA Championship as well as the Senior U.S. Open.

This is what sets me apart. I cut my teeth on the mini-tours in Florida in the early 1980’s. While others were busy marketing and following the Tour I was teaching at private clubs in Baltimore and Washington DC and working on being a better player while teaching full schedules of lessons with players of all abilities. When my back went bad on me I ended up having 3 surgeries, including a two-level fusion, which ultimately ended my hopes of playing for a living and forced me to examine the swing motion in detail so that I could change to a style that allowed me to continue to play.

So what is it exactly that I have found through all my experience with golf and teaching that would make this website exceptional? What is it that I focus on that would make working with me a different experience, one that might allow you to advance beyond your present state of affairs? Amongst all the things that I will teach you regarding every conceivable item having to do with playing golf, the two things that will stand out are my attention to impact, to fostering the ability to strike the ball in order to properly compress it, and to athletic pivot movement, which I will call body compression. I will use moving pictures (as opposed to static) to illustrate my points and provide evidence that what I am talking about is what many, if not most, of the best players of the past and present have done and are doing. I will go over each component of the game, putting, chipping, pitching, bunker play, irons, hybrids, fairway woods, and driver, and allow you to either start small with the pitch and work up to longer shots, or to start with the driver and work back to the green. I will give you everything I have learned in 40 years of competitive golf and 25 years of teaching. My explanations will be as detailed as the information requires. I will not “dumb it down” or attempt to simplify what is inherently complicated. I will, however, try to organize the information and teach you how to use your mental abilities in order to take what you learn out on the course and use it.

Another thing I offer you here is a library of articles that I have written for GolfStyles magazine over the last 13 years. You will quickly notice that little, if any, of the space taken up by my words is focused on swing technique. Instead, I have written about what I consider to be an equally interesting and ultimately equally difficult subject: how to best learn golf and how to apply what you learn when you play. As I mentioned, I have always been a player, and I am always cognizant of whether or not what I teach is going to be transferable to the golf course. In the end, your decision as to whether or not you have been successfully helped rests on the results you eventually see on the course. But in the meantime you and everyone else needs help in managing expectations, learning to practice effectively, dealing with pressure situations no matter what level of player you are, persevering through slumps and disappointments, and a host of other non-technique related areas. Again, you will find this site a full service one for your physical and your mental game.

So welcome, and I hope you enjoy the journey.

– Wayne D.