Where do you provide instruction?
Instruction is provided at The Maderas Golf Club.
How long have you been a professional golf instructor?
I have been a professional since 1968 and member of the PGA of America since 1973.
Who are some of your past and current students?
Some past students, when they were junior golfers:
In the beginning of the Hogan (Nike>Buy.com>and now the Nationwide Tour) I worked with about 14 different players most notably:
Steve Haskins (2 wins)
John Flannery the 1991 Nike Player of the Year and 6 wins
On the PGA Tour I worked a few times with about 10 different players, most notable:
Lon Hinkle (Winner of the Firestone World Series of Golf)
Mark Lye (Winner of the New England Classic)
JP Hayes (multiple PGA Tour Winner).
I have worked with Becky Lucidi 2002 Women's US Amateur Winner, Jennifer Johnson Runner-up 2009 Women's US Amateur, other nationally ranked junior players in their age groups from Southern California including Josh Dupont a member of the PGA Jr. Ryder Cup team 2005 and a top collegiate golfer attending Northwestern on a golf scholarship.
What is your training philosophy?
Each student is trained according to their golfing goals. If a player is a 20 handicap and wants to get to be a 15 I set up a game plan and time line to achieve that goal. If one of my juniors wants to be a national competitor in junior golf I work them much differently than someone who just wants to improve their game. I try to be as honest as I can and instill the belief in all they can achieve great things if they are willing to be disciplined, organized and consistent in their practice habits. I tell all to run from the idea that there are quick fixes in golf because that is a blatant lie.
What are the three major flaws you find in most golfers' game?
Three major flaws that I have observed in most golfers' game are:
- Loss of spine angle during the golf swing.
- An incorrect orbit (swing path) of the club
- Inability to load into the back foot and move through the ball correctly to impact and the finish in balance.
More important: physical or mental side of golf?
First, develop the technical or mechanical swing skills. It is then possible to use the mental side effectively.
For example: A mid to high handicap player can not effectively try to visualize a hook when the orbit of the club is steep and outside in creating a slice motion with an open club.
The mental side is important in managing the game for lower scores if the swing is under control. Most golfers like to fool themselves into trying shots they can not possibly hit. Each shot requires the golfer to ask some simple questions. I will list three easy questions required in mental management.
- Do you have the swing skill to execute the needed shot?
- Have you practiced the shot enough to have confidence in the execution of the shot?
- Can you handle the conditions of the shot?
- Wind, rain, etc.
- Uneven lie
- Rough conditions
What is your most memorable personal golfing experience?
Playing golf at Cypress Point and hitting driver on hole # 16 into a good wind of 20 mph carrying 233 yards on to the green and having a putt of 3 feet for birdie. You guessed it... I missed the putt because I was thinking the following...I'm going to birdie this most famous hole the only time I will have the opportunity to play it. I put too much importance on the score instead of hitting the best putt I could hit.
What three words best describe the game of golf to you?
- Struggle - The golfer must be prepared to face obstacles when things are going well and struggle even more when things are going poorly. Enjoy the opportunity to overcome the struggle.
- Challenge - Each shot represents its own set of challenges and the golfer must want to accept the challenge of performance.
- Passion - Each shot can produce results the golfer hates. The golfer has to manage each shot to prevent disaster on the course and each must love the challenge and struggle that golf provides.
What is your favorite course to play near where you live?
The Maderas Golf Club produces challenges for all aspects of the game. Driving the ball, approaches into the greens, short game, trouble shots and putting. A truly amazing course.
What SKLZ training aids do you use?
What is your favorite SKLZ training aid and how do you use it with your students?
Gyro Swing, as I can show:
-how the club face stays square to the swing path
-importance of weight transfer and release
Best round you've shot and where?
In 1982 I shot 77 at Turnberry in Scotland. The wind blew more than 35 mph. The course under those conditions was the most difficult I had ever seen. The day before, in very benign conditions, I shot 69 and it was not even close to as good a round as the 77. My goal was to keep my score under 82 on that windy blustery day at Turnberry, Scotland. I was not capable of playing better.
To learn more about John Darling visit his website at powergolfinstruction.com
Have a question you would like John to answer? Submit it in the comments section, and John will be happy to answer you.