by Deb Vangellow
LPGA Master Professional

Reflection is something we, as teachers, do often: what was good, what could have been better, and how am I going to do it? Certainly, we do the best we can do at the time, but we too are working towards becoming better teachers, a lifetime endeavor to achieve expertise. Evaluation can often be the level of play our students are achieving, but it can also be a plethora of other things happening for a particular student including simply enjoying the game due to an understanding and improvement of their golf swing and short game skills. I have come to understand more and more that it is not about “me”, but it is about you as the “student”.

As I continue my education to keep up with the technology relating to teaching this wonderful game we all love, I marvel at the amount of information there is “out there” relating to golf. Many times, I question my competence as an instructor because of my challenges in understanding the theories and ideals presented. What I have come to understand (perhaps now more than ever) is to certainly study “what’s out there” and continue learning, but do the best I can do to explain and demonstrate so very simply for my students. The most effective coaches I had as a kid (in a variety of sports) were very knowledgeable, yet presented basic and simple. A “less is more” philosophy is the way I want to go and motor learning and sports instruction research seems to support this.

With this very thing in mind, consider these “learnings” and see if some are applicable to you as you set goals for the year ahead.

Thoughts On Learning and Playing The Game Of Golf

  • Deb Vangellow teaching how to play golfMy “mantra” of “Clip and Finish” may just be all you need to effectively hit the ball into the air towards the target
  • You don’t really want to develop a good swing with a grip position that is not suitable for you…work on this and you may see instant improvement with this alone
  • The golf swing is a continuous energy flow…worry less about positions and put your attention on rhythm, timing. tension, and balance
  • Simplify your swing
  • Watch the Collision…en-route to your balanced finish
  • It is important to have your golf clubs fit to you…trust that your “gut” feeling is part of the process…if you fit into a particular shaft based on launch monitor readings, for example, yet like a completely different shaft, honor this and go with it…fitting is both science and art…everyone is different and unique and there is no “perfect fit”
  • Good posture in golf is huge…getting “counter-balanced” seems to help everything else in the swing work easier and better
  • Swing as you are…honor your physical self and learn to swing to match you…there is no one swing for everyone
  • Spend a lot of time on your set-up (grip, aim, posture, stance, weight distribution, ball position, aim/alignment)…90% of the success of the shot is taken care of with a good, repeating set-up.
  • Function follows form: how the golf club travels “around you” is related to your set-up position/posture…the swing plane is simply a tilted circle relating to your posture and mobility
  • Understand “Impact”…it is the most truth telling for consistent ball flight…spend less time and energy on the “back-swing” and work on the “forward-swing”…you will be better for it
  • It is OK to lift your left heel on the backswing
  • It is OK to shift your weight…every throwing or striking sport has similar energy transfer
  • It is not a “Sway” or a “Slide” if you turn and do not move your head while transferring weight
  • Learn to “stick” the finish like a gymnast learns to “stick” the landing…body faces the “body line” when finishing the swing, left of the target line you established
  • Swing tension free with gravity…you will be pleasantly surprised how “far” the ball goes and how much better your energy level is due to an easier workload when you are playing…less is more here too
  • Get good with your wedge…a most versatile club
  • Putt and Chip to your heart’s content
  • Practice with a purpose
  • Play the percentages
  • Honor the game…practice/repetition is crucial for improvement
  • Wellness…if you are healthy, strong, flexible, and have good stamina, you are bound to play better golf…everything seems to be easier and get better when you are well
  • Your thoughts control your actions…become aware of how you think when playing or practicing
  • Decide-Commit-Swing… Trust and believe
  • Maintain a good sense of humor…SMILE


Deb Vangellow

LPGA Master Professional Deb Vangellow teaches at Riverbend Country Club in Houston, Texas.  She is the 2012 LPGA National Teacher Of The Year, an LPGA and Golf Digest Woman “Top 50” Teacher, a Golf Digest and GOLF Magazine “Top Regional Teacher”, a US KIDS GOLF “Top 50 Master Kids Teacher” and a GRAA “Top 50 Growth Of The Game Professional”.
LPGA Teaching and Club ProfessionalsDeb serves as the President of the LPGA Teaching and Club Professionals Membership and is a longtime lead instructor in the LPGA Global Education Program. An educator/coach who offers wellness based developmental programming integrated into her “student centered” philosophy,  Deb can be reached at 281-277-4653 or followed online at, and on Facebook and Twitter.