Today we introduce a new recurring feature in this space: Teacher’s Corner. Our first subject is Charlie Thurston, a 45-year-old Colbert, Wash., golf pro profiled yesterday about his company, Pacific Northwest Golf and Wine Tours.
CHARLIE THURSTON IS A TEACHER of golf, and when he talks golf he might end up talking Ben Hogan.
Hogan, one of the great ball-strikers of all time, also wrote a book – some say THE book – called “Five Lessons.” Hogan kept his hands quiet in his swing, Thurston says, and we all could learn from that.
Too much hands – or any number of other things – could be what’s messing up your swing, says Thurston, who calls himself a “root cause” teacher: it usually comes down to one thing. He is blessed, he says, with an eye for picking it out.
“The majority of golfers are doing things they don’t need to or want to in their golf swing,” he says. “I try to help them get rid of things that are getting in their way.”
Thurston, who’s been playing golf “literally since I could walk,” discovered he had a knack for teaching golf when he was in junior high and gave swing tips to his teachers.
He went on to a “fairly decent” high school career in Wenatchee, Wash., and was slated to play at Eastern Washington University only to have the school drop its golf program just before his first fall there.
Later, he ended up working for the Sherwin-Williams company. In his business golf rounds with vendors and clients, he would give tips, and he found a receptive audience.
“Why aren’t you a golf pro?” they would ask.
“The day I turned pro, I had students lined up.”
He doesn’t want to blow up your golf swing and start over.
“A lot of instructors feel like they’re obligated to change somebody’s swing,” he says. “I’ve never done that. I try to help them uncover their real golf swing.”
If he had only five minutes to work with a student, Thurston would look for one “root cause.”
“In five minutes, I would give them the concepts to hit the ball forward,” he says. “I see a lot of problems with trying to get the ball airborne.”
It’s a simple concept, hitting the golf ball forward, but too many golfers consciously try to get the ball in the air, rather than letting the loft of the club do the work.
“If people would just learn to hit the ball forward,” Thurston says, “they would do themselves a favor and maybe never even need a golf lesson.”