As a 12-plus handicap, I was going out one morning last August at Ahwatukee CC when a guy drove up and asked if he could play with me. Friendly guy with a big bucket of balls, and over the course of the round I realized two things: he could hit the ball beautifully, work it whatever way he wanted, and that he was an instructor named Gil Benavidez.
After the round, I asked Gil if he’d give me a few pointers. He then spent 45 minutes with me on the range, working on a few tweaks to my setup and swing plane. I found out that he’s incredibly patient, persistent and an eternal optimist – great things in an instructor. We’ve all had instructors who seemed to have few of those qualities. And he’s a terrific analyst, pinpointing flaws that he then has drills to help fix.
In a half-dozen or so lessons spread out over a couple of months, I realized a few other attributes that make Gil a great teacher. He has tremendous knowledge about how to play various lies and distances to get the best result. He’s flexible, unlike some instructors, and is always willing to experiment. One day, we were on the course and he spent 15 minutes letting me try to pitch on with a hybrid from different positions. Another day, we had a putting contest – and he put his ego on the line.
The most remarkable thing I’ve found with Gil is a 3/4 pitch shot, what he calls “the scoring shot,” hit with a lot of spin from 120 yards in. We worked on this repeatedly over a couple of sessions, and now I have a new weapon – a ball I can hit to a yardage and have it check up quickly. In the last stint on the course with him, I put two of those within 10 feet.
Gil is relaxed, informal and has a tremendously engaging personality – you want to spend time with him. He makes it fun, and is generous to a fault with his time and willingness to get out on the course with you and not just do drills (though he does that, too). All for considerably less than the instructors at the big-name courses who have you on a clock. Gil loves the game, and wants you to love it through measured improvement. What more could you ask for in an instructor?
Categorised as: Testimonial