Student Spotlight – Jim Zarkos

Jim came to me this spring in need of a tune up. For years, he has been carrying his 20+ handicap and was ready for a change.  Like many students, Jim was deep in the “I’ll do this myself / I found it on Youtube” mindset, but had become lost on what to work on. His goals: Consistency, of course.

One thing that I try to stress to all of my students is FOCUS ON ONE THING AT A TIME! Two things that make me laugh when I teach golf, first, is when the student tells me all of their problems, and second, when I listen to other players trying to help their buddies, spouse or kids on the range. They will spit off 8-10 things for the player to think about, watch them hit 30 shots poorly, then proclaim “I TOLD YOU SO” when they catch that one lucky shot. Try to pat yourself on the head, rub your belly, stand on one leg and count backwards from 35 at the same time… You Can’t. And those are things that you’ve been doing flawlessly since childhood. My point: It is imperative that we focus only on one piece of the puzzle at a time and if we do that enough, the full picture will come into focus at the end of our sessions.

Now, back to Jim.  Keeping the one thing at a time thought in mind, we laid out a game plan for our 3 lesson series:

1 – Rotate behind the ball. Jim came to me with VERY hunched posture, which made his spine work up and down in the backswing. Our first lessons, we talked about creating leverage by getting behind the ball and also the importance of compression (hitting down through the ball.) We did a few drills and worked mostly with an 8-iron. Jim left, did his homework and came back ready for the second session.

2 – Transfer Weight. Almost anyone who has swung a golf club could see that Jim has the typical “reverse pivot” move in his swing where he falls backwards rather than falls forwards. Jim even pointed this out to me in his initial observation of his game, but could never get over the hump of correcting himself. Now that Jim had made a weight shift to his back leg he was ready to learn to shift forward and turn through the shot. At the start, things were hard. He still wanted to flick his hands at the ball and there were some ugly shots, but after a few drills, including one of my favorites, the Drunken Golfer Drill, Jim was rotating his way to the target, allowing his hands to compress the ball and getting a beautiful high (and long!) ball flight.

3 – Review / Add Clubs. Many of my students think that we should be talking about something new at every session… wrong. Every 3-4 weeks, with all of my students I like to have a review session. This is to work though the swing work we have done, incorporate new clubs and just get a bit more comfortable. Jim asked me at the start of the lesson “why have we only worked with 8-iron?” I like to do technical swing work with a shorter club. It gives us more room for error and usually, we will hit some quality shots, which helps when trying to keep students focused on the process. We worked through Jim’s bag, ending with his driver. I explained to him that the longer the club gets, the more critical it is to rotate, which he was able to implement into his swing.


The video below is from our second lesson, where Jim made the most visible progress with his weight transfer.

Great Job Jim! We’ve made a lot of progress, but we’re not done yet!