2006: King keeps it simple fyg

This surely will sound simplistic, but too many golf instructors don’t know how to talk. They fail at communication, nullifying much of what they might be able to teach their students.

Instructor Charlie King doesn’t brag about it, but he has studied communication as much as he has studied the golf swing.

“I’m not trying to criticize anyone,” said King, the new director of instruction at Reynolds Plantation, “but I have learned something from all the teachers I worked with – in some cases, I definitely learned how not to do it.”

King did not play golf until he was 19. He vividly remembers one of his early instructors screaming

at him because he questioned the teacher’s method.

Ultimately King developed his own philosophy about golf instruction: Speech is just as important as knowledge, and presentation of the golf swing is just as important as knowing the golf swing.

And so King became a champion of teaching simply and effectively.

“He knows the book, but he doesn’t throw the book at you all at once,” said fellow golf pro Charles McLendon III, who runs the golf club fitting laboratory at Reynolds Plantation. “He has a gift for teaching.”

King’s first book, published in 2000, was called “You’re Not Lifting Your Head.”

King said, “If you intentionally try to keep your head down, nothing could hurt your golf game worse.”

King always wants to understand what a golfer is thinking when he swings – whether he is attempting

to keep his head down, make a big shoulder turn, rotate aggressively through the shot with the upper body, or whatever the swing thoughts may be.

It is the translation of swing thoughts to the actual swing that often causes a problem, and King’s students learn to appreciate this.

He never will tell a player that he has to change everything. There is no rigid approach to the swing here. No instructor in golf may have a deeper appreciation for unorthodox swings.

“There is not one way to swing a golf club,” King said. “I would never change a swing just to make

it look a certain way.”

What he insists on is that his students always know the position of the clubhead and its path to impact. “Solid impact” is a description used by many of King’s pupils, because this is the first litmus test of whether a golf swing is really working properly.

King, the former director of instruction at PGA National Golf Club (Fla.) and Nantucket Golf Club (Maine), is nothing if not honest. He never promises a quick fix, yet he remains unfailingly upbeat as he teams with his students. This is part of the communication process in which King believes so deeply.

King’s approach to teaching is one of identifying roadblocks and systematically setting goals to remove them.

King calls it “a program for improvement, not just single lessons. Goals will be set, and a realistic time frame given.”

Because most golfers avoid practicing the short game, King believes that most lessons should be 50 percent full swing and 50 percent short game.

This philosophy should serve him well at Reynolds Plantation, which has four double-ended practice ranges and a comprehensive short- game practice facility.

King is a longtime advocate of mastering the short game. His second book, “Golf’s Red Zone Challenge,” co-authored with teacher Rob Akins, offers a method for practicing and evaluating the short game.

On March 1, King became director of instruction at the 81-hole (soon to be 99-hole) Reynolds Plantation facility.

On March 2, he made a blockbuster announcement. He wanted to send an invitational e-mail to every Reynolds Plantation member: Make an appointment for a free half-hour lesson. This from a man whose regular rate is $160 per hour for members, $200 per hour for Ritz-Carlton resort guests.

“Are you sure you want to do this?” asked Bob Mauragas, vice president of golf operations at Reynolds Plantation. “We have more than 2,000 members.”

“Absolutely,” King replied with conviction. It was part of his plan to communicate with the members.

Even for low-handicap players, the golf swing can seem complicated and difficult to grasp. Charlie King has dedicated himself to making it simpler.

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