Teaching women golfers not easier or harder, but different

Posted: April 30, 2015 2:00 pm

Golf swing coaches have traditionally made their bones working with male pros – David Leadbetter/Nick Faldo, Butch Harmon/Tiger Woods … heck, even go back to Ben Crenshaw/Harvey Penick, and Jack Nicklaus/Jack Grout.
That’s still mostly true, but it’s changing. When the U.S. Women’s Open comes to Lancaster in July, you’ll see plenty of middle-aged men (big-name coaches remain overwhelmingly male) on the practice range with tablet computers and video cameras.
Many of those men are famous within the serious golf world. It should be noted that Leadbetter’s two biggest-name current clients are Lydia Ko, the number one-ranked female golfer in the world, and U.S. Women’s Open champion Michelle Wie.
Remember Y.E. Yang, the Korean pro who won a head-to-head duel with Tiger Woods to win the 2008 PGA Championship?
Yang was shepherded from oblivion to the game’s highest level by Brian Mogg, an Orlando-based coach who has worked with dozens of tour pros of both genders.
Mogg clients include Amy Yang, currently ranked 12th in the world, and Mi Hyun Kim, who has won eight tournaments and over $10 million in 15 years on the LPGA Tour
Like almost anyone who’s coached males and females in any sport, Mogg says the differences between the two are considerable.
At the tour level, men and women really do play a different game.
“A few of the differences are obvious, like strength and the distances the ball goes,’’ Mogg said in an e-mail exchange.
“(Women) don’t spin their approach shots anywhere close to the guys. However, women drive the ball much straighter than the guys and hit driver on almost every hole. They will attack a narrow fairway and not think twice about it where a guy will hit 3W or hybrid all the time.’’\
That’s tangible and evident, just from watching, to any semi-trained eye. Men hit the ball harder and compress it much more. Thus their shots go farther, with better in-air distance control, but also, because compression creates spin, curve more.
Learning styles, which go back to the basic ways each gender negotiates the world from birth, are less tangible but, if anything, more striking.
“Girls they take every piece of advice or suggestion very literally,’’ Mogg wrote. “I have to be careful in that girls are such great students that everything said has to be a solid key and not something casual or lighthearted.
“With the guys, they are much more apt to challenge or express displeasure with a technical point, asking for other ways to get it done or being blunt that ‘this won’t work’.
“Girls are generally too nice in this context and don’t ever want to hurt the teachers feelings if they don’t like something. This is maybe the toughest part of working with women, getting the communication accurate so they get their feelings and emotions in sync with their mechanics and focus.’’
Mogg said he women tour players generally require a bit more coaching in course management and strategy than men. That’ll be especially true at Lancaster Country Club, a course most players haven’t seen before.
“I’ve really enjoyed working with the girls to develop game plans for a tournament,’’ he said.
“We will be working extra hard on this at Lancaster compared to a normal event. With more demands and consequences from missing a fairway or green, it’s especially important in the U.S. Open.’’