Hawk Talk…When I Was Your Age

By Jim McNaney

A little over a month ago my beloved editor Kim told me this year I was going to have a real column. I had moved up in the world getting closer to the level of my mentors like Deer Run Head Professional Tom Abts. Every month I was assigned to write about things that were truly my opinion.

Sounds great… until you realize you actually have to HAVE an opinion on a certain area of the golf business. The area she wanted me to focus on was technology – specifically, the use of new technologies to help golfers play better.

On the surface, that would seem like an ideal topic for the Regional Manager of an instruction company called GolfTEC. Never mind the fact that the TEC in GolfTEC is an acronym that stands for Technique, Equipment and Conditioning (note… no technology in the name). OK… sure, we use bio-motion analysis and yes… we use high tech video equipment and fine… we employ all the latest in launch monitor technology… well… ok… so we are a little techy.

See here’s the rub… I’ve always sort of seen myself as an “old school” type of instructor. I love to talk about “feel shots” and classic looking clubs even though there are WAY more forgiving clubs out there. I long for the days of walkable golf courses and caddie programs. Even still, I find myself relying more and more on technology to help my game as well as the games of my students.

I don’t know anyone that would really want to go back to persimmon woods and wound balls that cut if you looked at them funny.
When I first started out as a teaching professional I shunned the use of video because I felt the student would spend more time looking at everything on the screen EXCEPT what I was hoping they’d pay attention to. I was afraid that my “teaching eye” as we call it in the business, would become soft and I’d become too reliant on the camera, or worse yet, the student would think they didn’t need my help anymore because they could see it for themselves.

Now my living is based on using every and all technology available to help my students get better. Not surprisingly, my adoption of modern technology has actually made me a better coach. Still, as I suppose in most areas of our modern lives, the question arises, “Is technology actually helping our lives or making it more complicated?”

The debate over teaching with technology or not is actually raging so out of control on social media, there are entire pages dedicated to the eradication of one another. There is one page that claims to try to bring coaches on both sides of the argument together, but many times those threads disintegrate into personal tit-for tats or name calling matches.

The debate has spilled over into television. One commentator in particular on Golf Channel (who shall remain nameless) has been extremely outspoken against the so-called addiction to technology by golfers and teaching professionals. Funny… his new instruction book comes out this month. But I digress…

See here’s the thing (hint… this is where the young folks would say IMO), like all modern inventions or advancements; the power lies in the user. An automobile can be a lifesaver or a weapon. A cell phone can keep families together or can tear marriages apart when one party becomes too interested in work or sport or the Internet. Technological advancements in medicine help us all live longer lives, but there is nothing more healing than chicken soup.

Technology in golf can be and should be used for good… not evil. There are some very helpful tools out there that WILL help you play better golf. With this column, I hope to find new (and maybe some not so new) technologies to present to you every month and then give you my opinion on whether or not I think they are worth your time.

I’d also love your ideas. If there is a new product out there like a watch that is a yardage finder, step counter and beverage cart fetcher all in one, let me know and I’ll take a look at it. If I have an opinion, I’ll let you know.

In the meantime, I have to get up… walk across the room… and change the TV channel. There has got to be something good on one of these three networks right?

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