Saturday, October 27, 2012

Edwin Watts Golf Academy – A review

Edwin Watts has locations across the United States. I went to the one closest to our home in Greenville, South Carolina on Friday October 26, 2012.

When I bought a golf swing coaching session from (at half off, it was about $25) I imagined myself outdoors, taking in the view of the manicured fairway and breathing fresh air as my pro carefully instructed me in proper form.  In reality what Edwin Watts Golf Academy offers is indoor instruction aided by video and laser pointers. They go to some trouble to explain the advantages of indoor instruction but it was unnecessary for me as I quickly bought into the concept. Even my limited experience with golf has taught me that this is a sport where practice does not make perfect unless you have instruction. Continual feedback is a big advantage. It’s all about muscle memory and if your swing is flawed, practice serves only to burn that bad form into that muscle memory so that you play bad consistently. A good golf swing is counterintuitive to me and does not feel at all natural at first. Inside, you are in a controlled environment with that video feedback and the laser pointer that helps you line up your club along an imaginary plane and keep it there throughout the swing.  This all happens under the supervision of your instructor. In a video on the Edwin Watts website, Tiger Woods touts the success of kids who have never before played and learn to play inside. He says they hit the greens outdoors playing well right away. I don’t doubt it as it makes perfect sense to me. Heck, people are certified to fly actual aircraft, big commercial jets, using only indoor flight simulators. Certainly a person can learn to play golf in a simulator.

The session, which was advertised as an hour long but ran slightly longer, included a 14 minute video explaining the basic concepts including: How to get the club head to follow an ideal plane which insures that the ball goes straight, and why unhinging the wrists at just the right moment gives the club head high velocity, which is key to hitting the ball for distance.

First I took some practice swings and then my instructor analyzed the video with me, showing me what I was doing wrong and how to correct it. Wade Roberts was personable and engaging as he went over the program he recommended for me. He was also patient and diplomatic in dissecting and explaining the flaws in what I knew was a ridiculously bad swing. 

When the session was over, I was given a copy of my personal video on the thumb drive I was instructed in advance to bring with me. (A portion of that video is shown below)

I was not naïve to the fact that at this point, Wade would try to close me on a long term program. He struck an excellent balance between pressuring me, which he most certainly did not do, and letting me walk away without even an attempt to sell me, which would be a disservice both to the customer and to his employer.  By now, I was prepared to sign up for another lesson, even though I walked in expecting to only take one.  What I found out is that, except for special offers such as the Living Social deal,  Edwin Watts does not sell single lessons. You have to sign up for one of their longer-term programs. These were explained to me and I received a one page summary of my options. This was the only negative for me. I wanted another lesson, but I wasn’t ready for a longer-term up front commitment. There are three plan options. The Eagle Plan provides for unlimited lessons for 1 year for $1,999. The Birdie Plan is for 24 lessons in  a year for $999. The Par Plan is for 12 lessons in a year for $799. All 3 plans include unlimited practice time at the Edwin Watts facility in Greenville. 

I am somewhat skeptical that the prices are good only through next Tuesday as I was told, but I understood. Wade’s got a boss who sets those policies and I’m a career salesperson myself so I get it. A deadline is always built into the offer to create some sense of urgency. I suspect that if I called next Friday, the offer would still be good but who knows, I might be wrong.

Overall the experience was a very positive one for me. Even if I were never to go back, I got enough value out of the one lesson that it was worth it. I may go back, I just haven’t decided yet. It’s purely a financial question. For more information, visit Edwin Watts Greenville Online

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