Here’s 1 easy way to get better at golf (without swinging a club)
Welcome to Stuff Golfers Should Know, a GOLF.com series in which we reveal all kinds of useful golf (and life!) wisdom that is sure to make you the smartest, savviest and most prepared player in your foursome.
There are countless ways to improve your golf game, whether it be with swing tweaks, improved putting or a stronger mental game. This site has discussed them all, but there’s another less common tip you might not have heard, and it comes from GOLF Teacher to Watch Jake Thurm.
Thurm is based out of Ruffled Feathers Golf Club in Lemont, Ill., and also operates from the Athletico Golf Performance in Oak Brook, Ill. He was one of the many top instructors at GOLF’s Top 100 Teachers Retreat at Talking Stick Resort in Scottsdale, Ariz., last November, and he was among the handful asked to dish on the best advice they ever received. Yet he was the only one who made this particular point — and it starts with a story about PGA Tour veteran Kevin Streelman.
Streelman, 44, grew up an elite junior player in the Chicago area and teed it up against Thurm often. But, according to Thurm, the matchup was often one-sided.
“I’d call myself his tackling dummy at the time,” Thurm said. “He was far and away the best player in the state and it wasn’t even close.”
But what’s important is that Thurm learned from it.
“As much as I would take my lumps and get pummeled by him, the best advice I ever received is you have to play with better players than you, and there was no better player than him,” Thurm said. “So the thing is, as much as I would get stomped on by him, there pretty much wasn’t going to be another player I was going to be taken by or intimidated by. It’s humbling, it’s scary at first, but if you want to play the game better you have to play with people better at the game than you. That helped me immeasurably with playing with other players who weren’t eventually two-time PGA Tour winners.”
Thurm said in a way it was a paid lesson. He said he was OK with learning things Streelman did that he couldn’t, but it was important to know what they were. He also picked up on other key parts of the game: how Streelman practiced, how he handled himself and how seriously he took the game.
Streelman, though he didn’t know it at the time, was leading by example, and Thurm was taking it all in to better his own game.
“Great players are two things. They really know how to handle situations. They really know how to handle adversity. As I usually tell juniors: the obstacle is the way. You have to head in that direction so you know how to handle it going forward. And the other thing great players are is they are great evaluators,” Thurm said. “That’s what Kevin was. He was a great evaluator of what he had in a given moment or a given day. Not necessarily the shot that he wanted to hit if that wasn’t available to him but the shot that he could hit. I really think the great players truly know how to get it in the house, even when they have less than their best. And that’s what I learned from him.”
As for Streelman and Thurm? Their relationship is just fine these days. They were in each other’s wedding and Streelman was Thurm’s first client on the PGA Tour.
Now that’s a happy ending.