Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Tucson Golf Teacher Takes Unconventional Approach

Tucson golf teacher takes unconventional approach
by Bryan Lee on Nov. 12, 2008
Michael Thompson had his share of plays and misplays during spring and summer’s big-time experience.
At the Masters in April, the Rincon/University High graduate “just pasted the first shot,” said Susie Meyers, Thompson’s golf instructor. “Right down the middle.”
At the U.S. Open in June, he finished in a tie for 29th and “putted as pure as anyone in the field,” said Meyers. That was despite missing a handful of drives.
“But he did not let it cost him because he did not get negative or emotional about his poor shots,” she said.
Had Thompson done so, Meyers, who often caddies for him, would have been the most surprised person on the grounds.
“That was a really powerful thing to see because golf can do that to you,” she said.
Thompson’s peace comes from Meyers’ Zen-like teaching approach. She gives no negative feedback and says, “Golf is life, but life is not golf.”
“My philosophy is very different,” she said. “I simply try to lead people through the maze of details that golf can present and make the game as easy as possible. I do not use videos because people tend to focus on what is wrong. I would rather golfers think about what they want to do right.”
Thompson says Meyers, who is accompanying him this week in the second stage of PGA Qualifying School, has instructed him since age 14. He was self-taught until then.
“She opens your eyes to all aspects of the game,” he said. “When you’re in trouble, you know in your head what went wrong. Negative is not an emotion you should have.”
Meyers, a former University of Arizona player, doesn’t get to give much instruction to her 11-year-old son Chris.
“He’s having too much fun learning to play the game,” she said. “He learned the game through self-discovery and self-assessment.”
Meyers doesn’t pay much attention to the technical part of the game, saying that “you have to have control of your preparation for your shot and your reaction to it.
“I have come to learn that technical instruction fragments learning and our brains do not do well with a lot of details. A broad concept is much easier for golfers to grasp.
“You don’t have to play with one golf swing. I’m not a method coach. I work with what a player has and help them improve what they have. A child doesn’t take instruction in learning to walk. Ten-year-olds break par and know nothing of technique. It’s not to say I don’t know golf swings; I do, but the body follows the tool.”
Thompson was doing OK as a junior golfer with loads of talent, but Meyers, he says, helped give him the impetus to shoot under 75.
“I was stuck,” he said. “She changed (my grip) so I could hit it as far as I could.”
Meyers, who teaches at Ventana Canyon, majored in business at UA (1979) and played on pro minitours. Then known as Susie Berdoy, she married former pro Dan Meyers, a college sweetheart who had a 2-handicap.
Her evolving teaching style came with the understanding of how the brain works.
“Golf is about you, how to take care of you, eat right, work out,” she said. “It brings out so much emotion and we become completely vulnerable, stripped bare standing out there in front of God and everybody and still be able to hit the shot. It’s all mental. You can’t control where the ball goes but you can control yourself.”
Meyers tends to think her part is small.
“I always say that I give him 5 cents worth of instruction,” she said, “and Michael goes and makes $100 with it. He is that talented.”
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