BEEN THERE, tried that, found this, did that.
At 32, John Cassidy is no old man. But he’s been around.
“I feel like I’ve spent a lot of time working and playing and learning a lot from a lot of different people,” says Cassidy, a teaching professional at Alderbrook Golf Club in Union, Wash. “I think I’ve worked on every single thing a person can work on in his golf swing. I have a lot of knowledge and information.”
Cassidy was a standout player at the University of Nevada in Reno and played a couple seasons on the Canadian Tour (now known as PGA Tour Canada). Through the years, he’s worked with a who’s who of West Coast teachers of the game, including Joe Thiel, Jeff Coston and Shawn Callahan.
He still has passion for playing the game — and still knows how to win a golf tournament. He closed with a second-round 64 to top the field at the Polar Bear Open at The Cedars at Dungeness in Sequim, Wash., in late January.
These days, he’s equally passionate about teaching.
“Teaching for me is very natural,” he says. “It’s a hard game. It’s hard for everyone. When I help someone in a golf lesson, it’s fun.
“The trial and error in my own golf game helps me get (students) on the right track a little faster.”
The first thing Cassidy wants to know when he first meets a student: “What do they want to get out of their lesson? One maybe just wants to lose the slice, others to be as good as they can be.”
The golf ball, he says, can only go where the golf club tells it at impact. By listening to and watching his students, he can get the information he needs to help them feel what they’re doing and be able to tell the difference between what they feel … and what’s real.
“Golf’s tough,” he says. “Sometimes you just need to have that one thing said to you in the way that clicks with you.”
Practice, he says, really can make you better.
“I guarantee, if you put the time in and work on the right things, you will improve in golf.”
If Cassidy was seeing a student for the first time and had only five minutes, the first thing he would address is the grip.
“If their grip is poor, fixing it is the No. 1 thing to make the biggest difference,” he says. “You’ve got to get them hanging onto the club correctly. It’s a lot easier and a lot more natural if the hands are on there the right way.”
After grip, he’d look at setup, ball position, and — given just the five minutes — “If I could get them to turn correctly, that’s all I probably would try to get accomplished.”
John Cassidy teaches at Alderbrook Golf Club in Union, Wash. Reach him at (360) 898-2560 at the course, (360) 791-5053 by cell or at firstname.lastname@example.org.