There is a reason people say that golf has its own language. Par, birdie, lie, open club face, and so many more all come together to form the game we all love, but it can often leave people confused when their instructor asks them to use more “centrifugal force” on their next swing. While we can all catch on to the basic lingo over time, even seasoned golfers can still struggle to understand the game when speaking with their golf instructor.
As the Founder of the Latina Golfer’s Association, I derive so much joy from watching women blossom from newbies into more confident women who embrace the game. I’ve been involved with organizing hundreds of golf clinics and lessons, and I have learned that in order for the learning experience to be successful, the instructor and the student need to speak on the same level.
The good news is that golf instruction is evolving and with so many people with limited golf background getting into the game, golf instructors are pivoting how they approach teaching. It used to be that golf pros spent the majority of their time working towards perfecting golfers’ swings and less time teaching newbies, but with so much emphasis on growing the game, a new dynamic has emerged at the golf course. Women and girls are the largest growing demographic in golf, and with an estimated 502 million rounds of golf played in the US in 2020, the game has never been more popular.
But many golf pros—like with any other highly-skilled professionals—don’t always remember that not everyone has the same base-understanding about the game as they do. Where we see a decent swing, they see the physics of all that shifting momentum and the dozens of terms for each maneuver towards impact.
Most golf professionals want to see you succeed (and if they don’t, you probably don’t want to keep working with them anyway), and usually meet with a wide range of skills, experience, and abilities. It isn’t always easy for the golf pro to know what players already know about the game and what they need more help understanding. Sometimes, it comes down to clarifying the terms rather than entire concepts. That is why it is important to always advocate for yourself—on and off the course.
Even if you’ve been playing for your entire life, there is no shame in stopping your lesson to ask for clarification. You’re not going to magically start improving if you don’t let your instructor know you didn’t understand a single thing they just asked you to do or why one method works better than another. Asking for clarification doesn’t make you less of a golfer, and you will get a better understanding of your game and get so much more out of your experience. What’s important is that you do your homework and find an instructor or program that’s right for you.
Whatever route you take, I want you to stand boldly in your golf shoes and request the instructor meet you at your level. Ask questions and let them know when you don’t get it. I know they will appreciate your candor.