Congratulations! You’ve picked up golf. You have invested in golf equipment and scheduled time in your busy schedule to play in a league or play golf with your friends and family. You may even enjoy competing with friends in EWGA or local events. However, every golfer, regardless of his/her golf skills, wants to play better. Rather than listen to your spouse or friends, it’s better to seek golf instruction from a golf professional.
But how do you go about selecting an instructor? How do you know he or she will be a good teacher for you? Here are some of the key things to look for in an instructor:
1. A personal connection
Just as you would pick a doctor with whom you feel comfortable, you want the same experience with your golf instructor. Ask for references from other golfers or from people where you play. The golf professional should be compatible with you as far as mutual goals, swing philosophy and personality.
2. Good communication skills
Make sure your golf professional explains swing terms and concepts without getting too technical (just as you wouldn’t want a doctor to use detailed medical terms). You need to be able to clearly understand the concepts and ideas your pro talks about. If you don’t understand a concept or comment, but sure to stop and ask for further explanation.
If the teacher is not a certified PGA or LPGA professional, don’t bother. Both associations offer extensive training and education for their members, not only to obtain certification but also to maintain their credentials. You might prefer a well-established pro to a rookie, but keep in mind that the price for lessons will vary according to the instructor’s credentials. A new professional will have lower hourly rate for a lesson than an established one.
4. Useful training aids
Many Professionals use teaching aids or swing aids to help you feel the difference in your swing or the concept he or she is trying to explain. These training aids are designed to provide feedback to you and help you improve. Instructors typically have have a staff bag full of fun teaching aids and make use of them in every lesson.
5. Teaching technology
In the past, golf lessons were even more expensive if your lesson included video. Nowadays, with the advancement of technology in the golf instruction space, you not only should be given a video of your swing, but hopefully it will include feedback on your ball flight. Ask your professional if your lesson includes ball flight monitoring, and if so, how you might access the video after your lesson.
Your golf professional should be enthusiastic and make the lesson fun and educational for you. You should see his or her passion for the game and desire to help you get better. Avoid a teacher who treats you like a number and is eager to get to his or her next lesson.
7. A variety of learning opportunities
Ask your golf professional if he or she offers other types of instruction, such as group lessons, clinics, playing lessons or playing in pro-am events, in addition to individual lessons. Many will offer a special rate if you take a series of lessons (three, five or more). Group instruction, while not as personal as one-on-one instruction, offers you a chance to bring a friend and learn in a group setting, which should be less expensive than an individual lesson. Some pros offer instructional clinics that focus on certain parts of the game (short game, putting, bunker play, etc.). When you are ready to take what you learned on the practice tee to the course, ask about a playing lesson. You will pick up all kinds of tips and course management ideas that help you while playing. Finally, when you are ready, many professionals are invited to Pro-Am events and look for players to compete on their teams. This is a great way to show what you have learned while having fun at the same time.