Different Strokes for Different Folks
By John Torsiello
Tex Kane says a good golf instructor doesn't teach every student in the same way.
"My idea is to look at the ability of the individual and build around what he or she does naturally," he says. "There is no one way to teach everyone." But while Kane subscribes to the different strokes for different folks theory, there is one common characteristic of a good golfer that Kane tries to emphasize to his students: the repeating golf swing. "The whole idea of golf is to repeat the golf swing. I tend to teach more body than arms and legs. If we could only hit the ball using a proper swing, then I think we would all become better players. Most players spend too much time actually hitting the ball rather than swinging properly," Kane said.
Kane knows what good golf instruction is all about. He was the overwhelming choice of golfers as Best CT Golf Instructor in CTGolfer Online's 1997 "Best of CT Golf Poll."
Tex Kane of Hunter Golf Course in Meriden is this year's choice as Best CT Golf Instructor.
Kane, 52, has been a golf instructor at Hunter Golf Course in Meriden for the past two years. The Texas native -- hence, the nickname -- loves what he does, and it shows. "I find teaching very enjoyable," he said. "You never get rich, but I want to get up every day and enjoy what I do."
Hunter's head professional, Dave Cook, hired Kane, and is glad he did. "He's very well-liked and well-respected," Cook said. "I've turned over a tremendous amount of my students to him, and I don't do that lightly." Added Patsy Papandrea, who heads Hunter's golf committee, "He does a great job, and we're lucky to have him. He's excellent with the kids, and they are the future of the game."
Kane has been a PGA Professional for 25 years. He didn't begin playing until around the age of 20, but once he got a taste, he knew that he wanted to make golf a career. He served as head pro at Pilgrim's Harbor Golf Club in Wallingford from 1975 through 1984 before landing a job as teaching professional for Sony Corporation's in-house golf program. There, he handled the company's corporate golf outings and worked with renowned golf instructor Peter Kostis.
Kane traveled on the PGA and Senior tours for Sony, demonstrating swing analysis equipment and giving tips to spectators. "I traveled mostly during the winter months and got to see a lot of the country. I also got to watch how Kostis and other top pros conduct their business," he said.
After the Sony project ended, he worked at New Haven Country Club where he stayed for about two years before joining Hunter. He and his wife Linda have two sons, Bryan and Ryan. Bryan, 28, worked in the golf business, while 15-year-old Ryan plays on the Sheehan High School golf team.
At Hunter, Kane wears a number of hats. "I teach, do some club-fitting, help service the individual golfer and offer advice on playing the course. I'm more involved in the day-to-day operations here than I was at New Haven Country Club," Kane said. In addition to individual lessons, which make up a majority of his teaching assignments, Kane also runs spring and fall adult clinics and junior clinics during the summer.
Kane relies heavily on drills as part of his instruction technique. "Let's face it, life gets in the way of the game," he said. "I can't ask somebody to be at the range five times a week. That's why drills are important, especially in the north where the weather comes into play."
He also emphasizes the mental side of golf, which often separates good golfers from the not-so-good. "The best player leaves a bad shot behind. The decent player dwells on it. People tend to demand too much of themselves. We aren't robots. The pros come as close to being robots as there is, and even they hit bad shots. The best players leave a bad shot behind and move on," Kane said. For example, he'll advise players to mentally block out hazards such as water and bunkers, and concentrate instead on putting the ball in a safe place on the fairway or green. "Most players worry about not hitting the ball somewhere bad and they over-adjust," he said. "The good players are not affected by hazards and they can hit a better shot because of it. I call it using an eraser. Just erase the sand, water and trees out of your mind after you have processed them into your formula of how you are going to hit a shot." Kane said that stance and lie are the two most important determining factors when hitting a shot. "Lie overrules everything," he explained. "Your swing is grooved for an ideal situation. You have to adjust according to your lie, be it downhill, sidehill or uphill. My advice on any shot where you have a lie that is anything but level is do not make a full swing and perhaps add a club."
While his objective is to improve the scores of his students, Kane said his ultimate goal is to produce smiles. "I want them to come back and say they were happy on the golf course," Kane said. "If they tell me they have improved and have had fun, then I've done my job."
©2016 Tex Kane Memorial Golf Tournament.