When people in the golf industry talk about barriers to entry for players new to the game, one topic that nearly always comes up is the difficulty of the sport. It’s really more of a perception issue, though, veteran instructor Dana Dahlquist believes, and by using some of the latest technology available for golf instruction, golfers can move past the idea that golf is hard to learn, and quickly get to the point where they enjoy the game.
“I basically consider myself a ‘non-method’ teacher, but I utilize today’s technology and the information it provides to best suit every student’s needs,” said Dahlquist, who is based at El Dorado Park’s Golf Course in Long Beach and has worked with everyone from juniors to tour pros. “The top two things are how to learn quicker and perform better.”
Dahlquist doesn’t necessarily believe in chasing the latest trends in instruction, though he is open to new ideas and innovative ways of teaching the game. His progression for beginning golfers starts with making solid contact, and then moves on to understanding the face-to-path relationship, then finally addresses how to add power and distance.
For mid-handicappers, he focuses on how to hit more greens with longer clubs by developing patterns that eliminate two-way misses.
“That’s about as simple as you can make it,” Dahlquist said. “You don’t have to come up with some new method that’s going to be en vogue until the next big thing. Everybody wants to make golf instruction sexy, but I think most people just want to have a good time and hit the ball well – it’s fairly straightforward.”
Recently, Dahlquist worked with a woman who had never taken a lesson, and her initial swing assessment showed a swing speed, attack angle and launch angle that would have made it difficult for her to get around a golf course without significant frustration. He was able to show hard data that validated the swing changes he implemented and quickly get her on a path to enjoying the game.
“Using the technology that’s available now, we can ease the pain of randomness and make things systematic,” Dahlquist said. “If you do this on a daily basis, you can see what really works. That’s the really neat thing about the era we live in now – if you put more beginning players in these situations, we can get more people playing golf.”