How this total beginner went from ‘blank slate’ to 70s shooter

Golf lesson

Nailing down the fundamentals is the first step to getting good, quickly


The game of golf is never more difficult than when you first start playing. Everything about it feels strange and awkward. It’s intimidating, and it can take golfers a lot of time to shake that feeling.

So how do you take a total beginner to an accomplished 70s shooter? That’s the task Josh McKinley had when Cami Culp walked through the door of GOLFTEC’s Spokane location.

“Cami had never held a club before our first time together” he said. “She had no idea what to do, but a blank template is the most fun to work with.”

The beginner’s formula: Fundamentals and Tilt

The first step, McKinley says, was helping Cami understand the basics of ball flight in the simplest terms possible. Why hitting down on the ball helps the ball go up, for instance, and why swinging over-the-top can cause slices.

“She needed to understand how the game worked,” he said. “What makes the ball curve like it does”

With that understanding, the pair spent some hard work nailing-down her fundamentals: Specifically her grip, posture, alignment, and stance. This is an important note for all golfers, because if your fundamentals are off the rest of your swing can go off the rails in a hurry.

They found Cami was most comfortable setting up to hit a draw, with her stance pointing slightly to the right, her clubface and shoulders pointing at her intended target, and swinging from in-to-out.

After that, the pair started working on her body tilts during her swing. Crucially, avoiding “swaying” off the ball on the backswing — a move that makes it extremely difficult to hit the ball with any consistency.

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“We helped her understanding how tilting her body toward the ground altered where she would hit the ground,” McKinley says. “Getting those basic downswing skills of professional golfers took up the majority of our time.”

Needless to say, it worked. What started as a few golf lessons as a freshman in high school turned into a college golf career — which this year as a sophomore, saw Cami shoot back-to-back rounds of 70 to collect her first college victory. A little more than five years after first picking up a club, Cami had shot under par to win a competitive event.

“It was a proud coach moment for me,” McKinley says. “It’s been quite the journey.”

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Luke Kerr-Dineen Contributor

Luke Kerr-Dineen is the Game Improvement Editor at GOLF Magazine and In his role he oversees all the brand’s service journalism spanning instruction, equipment, health and fitness, across all of GOLF’s multimedia platforms.

An alumni of the International Junior Golf Academy and the University of South Carolina–Beaufort golf team, where he helped them to No. 1 in the national NAIA rankings, Luke moved to New York in 2012 to pursue his Masters degree in Journalism from Columbia University and in 2017 was named News Media Alliance’s “Rising Star.” His work has also appeared in USA Today, Golf Digest, Newsweek and The Daily Beast.