Many golfers receive the gift of golf instruction. For many, it may be the first time taking a golf lesson. Because this is an investment—both money and time—I want to help you make the most of your investment by giving you the following things to consider.
Before You Begin
Find a Teacher Who Matches You.
If you are searching for a teacher, start by asking around to find out if there is a teacher close to where you work or live. If you don’t have to travel far, you will be more likely to commit to an instruction, practice, and play program. Make sure you find a teacher who can help you at your level and one who speaks your language. If you know how you learn best (visual, auditory, or kinesthetic), you want to be sure this teacher can teach you in your dominant sensory mode.
Once You Have Scheduled Your Lesson, Come Prepared.
Ideally, make a list of questions and concerns that you would like the to address. Bring your whole set of clubs (if you have them; if not, indicate this so that equipment can be provided) and other equipment you use (glove, visor, suitable clothing). Arrive early so that you can stretch and are ready to go at your scheduled time. Finally, expect an interview of sorts. A good teacher will want to get as much information about you and your golf game to help facilitate your learning.
During the Lesson Session
Answer All Questions Truthfully and Completely.
During the lesson session, be prepared to answer a variety of questions including your play history, other sports or activities you enjoy, physical limitations, strengths and weaknesses, goals, and objectives. Allow the teacher to get to know you and your background.
Emphasize Your Agenda.
A good teacher will help you with what you want help with. A lot of lessons do not go well because the teacher has one agenda, and the golfer another. If your agendas are very different, though, you might want to consider the teacher’s reasoning because that’s why you are paying for instruction.
Make Sure You Understand Everything You Are Asked to Do and Why.
The language of golf is so ambiguous, and it is easy for a teacher to assume you are fluent in the language of golf. Please ask for clarification to help the teacher help you.
Keep an Open Mind.
Minds are like parachutes—they work best when they are open. If your mind is full of preconceived notions, there may not be room for other ideas that might help you. You are there for the teacher’s advice and expertise, so try it and do your best to trust it.
It is much easier to learn a new motor pattern if the golfer can exaggerate the feelings of the new movement. This is also helpful for the teacher to get to the correction that works best for you.
Demand and Expect Success.
If you have been slicing (the ball flies very right) and you continued to slice for the entire lesson, you have not been taught. But, if you go from bad slicing to bad hooking (the ball flies very left), you are gaining ground. A change in ball flight is important if that is the goal of the session. Ideally, your goals should be met, not perfected. Believe in the potential if things are not perfect as changes take time.
After the Lesson
Ask for an Exchange of Feedback.
The teacher should help you summarize and clarify what you both did for the session. This is important and helpful in case there are some misconceptions you both may have. It is the essence of communication. Write things down—paper does not forget.
Ask How to Correct Yourself.
When you make a swing change, the ball may act differently. If you were a “slicer” and your grip position is a new change, the ball may go left. You need to know what to work on to fix this situation so that you are not tempted to go back to where you were before the lesson session. A bit of a step in another direction is sometimes the way to go forward in motor learning as some things may have to be “unlearned”.
Ask and Expect Some Practice Assignments.
“Homeplay”—Not homework. Have your teacher tell you what and how to practice including drills and motion swings. Also, ask for help in handling the changes on the golf course. A good teacher will help with this transition.
If you can do all of these things, your investment in lessons will pay off. Remember, it is a two-way deal. The teacher is expected to assist you, but it is necessary to help in this relationship, similar to what you would likely do with your physician. Instruction is definitely helpful and enjoyable if you have the right teacher for you.
Wishing you great golf!