My Golf Instructor

Diagnosing Problems
Putting Together the Pieces of the Puzzle

More Info on Diagnosing Problems
Learn how to diagnose problemsDiagnosing Swing Flaws

If I told you the thing I like most about teaching golf, it probably wouldn't surprise you. Most people, even if they don't teach for a living know that the reason teachers like to instruct is for the rewarding feeling they get when they see their pupils achieve success. It's the satisfaction of knowing you helped another reach their goals.

To me, the next best thing is diagnostics. I find the golf swing and body fascinating. It's like this complex puzzle and without all the pieces fitting properly, it just doesn't work. Some refer to it as a chain where each link is only as good as the link before it. Many golf instructors have jokingly been called a "swing doctor". Much like a doctor has to interview their patients and dig deep into their psyche and physical being to solve their ailment, a good golf instructor will do the same. That is why all lessons should begin with a detailed interview soaking up the student's personality traits along with their physical fitness level and swing motion.

The Biggest Challenge is to Find the Root Cause

The biggest challenge for any novice instructor is to find the root cause. It's easy to see many of the causes, but the root cause is a bit more challenging. Sure it's easy to see that a closed club face at the top of the swing is making it more likely to have the face shut at impact resulting in a low hook, but why is the club face closed at the top? Is it the grip at address, the improper wrist hinge on the takeaway, or the collapsing rear arm? There are just so many things that can get off track in a golf swing and they can all cause multiple results. That's why it's interesting to me when a student texts and asks why I think they are slicing the ball. If I've worked with them for quite a while and know their habits, it's easy to guess what might be going wrong. Often my standard answer though, is that there are so many things that can cause a slice and without seeing them it's impossible to say for sure.

Is it the Chicken or the Egg?

Another interesting phenomenon is the "chicken and the egg effect". It's all about finding out which problem came first. For instance, if a player is losing their balance to their toes in the down swing and coming over the top of the swing plane, which is causing which? Is the loss of balance to their toes causing them to fall forward and swing over the top of the plane or outside in through impact to counter balance themselves and keep from falling? Or is the big over the top move and motion of throwing their arms and shoulders forward causing them to lose balance onto their toes? Being able to diagnose the root cause saves an awful lot of time and headaches. It's an art for sure, but once mastered, nothing is more fun than making all the pieces of the puzzle fit nicely together.

As with any trade, it does take years of practice and experimentation to master the art of golf instruction. For the individual student who has their own job and life to contend with, trying to figure out the complexity of the golf swing has always been a huge source of frustration. That's why is here. To eliminate the frustration, make problem solving much easier and guide you to the root cause. has all the tips, drills and tools you need to help diagnose the root cause of your swing problems.

Maria Palozola

Maria Palozola is a member of the LPGA and has participated in multiple LPGA Tour events. She has provided instruction to thousands of students in the past 20+ years and has won multiple teaching awards from the LPGA, Golf Digest, and Golf Magazine including being ranked as one of the top 50 female instructors in the world.

More Info on Diagnosing Problems

Diagnosing Problem Lessons

Diagnosing Problem Tips

  • 10 premium tips
  • 166 tips from the Ask Maria archive

Diagnosing Problem Drills

  • Right Elbow Mirror Drill (Video Available)
  • Rear Arm Headcover Drill (Video Available)
  • Seam on Your Shirt Drill (Video Available)
  • Swing Plane Tee Drill (Video Available)
  • Swing Plane Track Drill (Video Available)
  • Swing Plane Mirror Drill (Video Available)
  • Flashlight Drill (Video Available)
  • 2 Clubs, One Hand Drill (Video Available)
  • Swing Under a String Drill (Video Available)
  • Parallel or Pointed Drill (Video Available)
  • 2X4 Shank Cure Drill (Video Available)
  • Miss the Ball Drill (Video Available)
  • 2 Ball Drill (Video Available)
  • 3 Tee Drill (Video Available)
  • Range Bucket Drill (Video Available)
  • Swing Plane Poles Drill (Video Available)
  • Connection Towel Drill (Video Available)
  • Handful of Pennies Drill (Video Available)
  • Towel Drill for Topping (Video Available)
  • Front Foot Drill (Video Available)
  • Rear Foot Only Drill (Video Available)
  • Elevate your Foot Drill (Video Available)
  • Stepping Drill (Video Available)
  • Stable Legs Drill (Video Available)
  • Forward Press Drill (Video Available)
  • Front Foot Only Drill Stop Chunking (Video Available)
  • Impact Point Drill (Video Available)
  • Weight Forward Drill (Video Available)
  • Swing On A String Drill (Video Available)
  • Chase the Ball Drill (Video Available)
  • Feet Together for Stability Drill (Video Available)
  • Level Out Drill (Video Available)
  • Move the Angles Drill (Video Available)
  • Towel Drill for Chunking (Video Available)
  • Cheek Down Drill (Video Available)
  • Roll Down Drill (Video Available)
  • Toe Line Drill (Video Available)
  • Dropping Drill (Video Available)
  • Double Pump Drill (Video Available)
  • Back to the Target (Video Available)
  • 3 Ball Drill for Hooking (Video Available)
  • Under the Pole Drill (Video Available)
  • Rocking Drill (Video Available)
  • Back Foot In Drill (Video Available)
  • Front Foot In Drill (Video Available)
  • Front Foot Out Drill (Video Available)
  • Ba Boom Hip Drill (Video Available)
  • Back Foot Out Drill (Video Available)
  • Hip Stick Drill (Video Available)
  • Foot Back Drill (Video Available)
  • 45 Degree Foot Angle Drill (Video Available)
  • Front Toe Lift Drill (Video Available)
  • Toes Up Drill (Video Available)
  • Step Through Drill (Video Available)
  • Back Toe Lift Drill (Video Available)
  • Back Foot Down Drill (Video Available)
  • Wide to Narrow Drill (Video Available)
  • Toe Curl Drill (Video Available)
  • Tuck, Turn & Roll (Video Available)
  • Perfect Finish Drill (Video Available)
  • Rate of Rotation Drill (Video Available)
  • Dipping Drill (Video Available)
  • Coil T Drill (Video Available)
Who is Maria Palozola?
- Top 50 LPGA Instructors in the World
- A Golf Digest Top 10 Teacher in Illinois
- A Golf Magazine Top Teacher in the Midwest
- More about Maria
- Golf Questions
Golf instruction made simple
Golf Overview
Overall Game
- Getting Started
- Equipment
- Golf Fitness
- Junior Golf
- Mental Game
- Practice
- Rules of Golf
Short Game
- Bunkers
- Chipping
- Pitching
- Putting
Full Swing
- Pre-Swing Fundamentals
- Shot Making
- Diagnosing Problems
- Driving
- Hybrids and Woods
- Irons
Playing Golf
Ball Striking
- Fitness (78)
- Course Management (82)
- Getting Started in Golf (75)
- Practice (66)
Course Management
- Club Selection (66)
- Equipment (107)
- Driving (68)
- Putting (127)
- Golf Rules (69)
Short Game
- Bump and Run (72)
- Chipping (82)
Ball Striking
- Chunking (79)
- Distance Control (86)
- Fat Shots (92)
- Flipping (48)
- Poor Accuracy (118)
- Slicing (48)
- Thin Shots (85)
- Topped Shots (52)
- Lack of Distance (108)
- Putting Accuracy (72)
Swing Plane
- Blocking (50)
- Inside Out (56)
- Outside In (59)
- Over the Top (49)
- Pulling (54)
- Pushing (66)
- Releasing Early (47)
The Swing
- Grip (65)
- Alignment (55)
- Balance (50)
- Ball Position (80)
- Posture (77)
- Setup (117)
Swing Plane
- Backswing (84)
- Controlling Trajectory (47)
- Divot (48)
- Downswing (67)
- Impact (103)
- On Plane (85)
- Path (84)
- Power (71)
- Shaft Plane (63)
- Swing Plane (112)
- Weight Shift (79)