Whether you’re a seasoned golfer or have just taken up the sport, every golfer could do with a couple of lessons to improve their game.
As is the case when choosing your equipment, choosing the best coach for you could make a big difference to your game.
In an article for the PGA, award-winning golf instructor John Hughes says the process of choosing the best coach is as unique as your fingerprint. Hughes compares the process to choosing a doctor.
“There are certain questions you would ask your doctor and certain things you would require from your doctor that will allow you feel comfortable with your treatment plan. You should ask similar questions and expect similar services from your golf instructor before investing your time and money improving your game."
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Here are five aspects to consider when searching for the right golf coach fit:
1. Know what you want or need — Before you even begin looking at instructors or coaches, you need to determine what it is you are hoping to achieve through lessons or what is is exactly that you need help with.
Coach Simon Selin explains in this GolfWRX article: “During my first year as an instructor, I recognized many golfers took lessons without considering the training they had to do between lessons.”
To remedy this, Selin now interviews new students and helps them create a training schedule that includes practice between lessons.
Plugged-in Golf recommends starting by asking yourself what your own goals are and what you expect from your coach. It’s important to be honest with yourself at this stage.
2. Teaching methods — According to The Golf News Net, a coach’s teaching philosophy is almost as important as compatibility.
As Golf City points out, you don’t want a coach who is determined to only teach one method, but you do need to find out if their teaching philosophy will be comfortable for you.
Golf Made Simple adds that a bad coach might address the effects of a bad swing, rather than dealing with and correcting the root cause.
The site suggests asking potential instructors what teaching methods they use to spot strengths and weaknesses.
You might also want to ask about what technology they’re using to supplement their teaching. Golf for Her mentions swing aids and videos of your swing and ball flights as two useful training aids.
3. Compatibility — Let’s face it, you’re not going to be enjoying your lessons if you don’t get along with your coach.
Hughes believes it’s a golfer’s responsibility to ensure they can build a relationship with their coach. This means figuring out if you have common ground, your coach’s personality type, and whether you share beliefs about the game and how it should be played.
Golf News Net adds that the relationship between a student and teacher is a personal one, and if you can’t communicate with each other you aren’t going to get anywhere.
When it comes to compatibility, Golf Digest points out that it might take a couple of lessons to determine if you’re with the right coach, but Golf for Her suggests shortening this process by starting with coaches recommended by friends, family, or colleagues.
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4. Accreditation and experience — Once you’ve determined what you expect from your coach, you can start looking at the accreditations you expect them to have.
Golf City points out that there are no requirements to teach golf, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be looking for someone with cred.
Good coaches are always learning and will probably have a string of qualifications behind their name.
Both Golf News Net and Golf for Her suggest sticking to a coach with PGA or LPGA credentials. That’s because these associations offer training and expect members to maintain their certification.
"The programs these men and women complete are intense, include first-hand experiences over a longer course of time, and are constantly required by the organizations to re-educate themselves on a regular basis," Hughes explains.
5. Keep an eye out for bad habits — When you begin trial lessons, you can keep your eyes open for tell-tale signs that your coach may not be a good fit in the long run.
Golf City recommends watching out for a coach who’s always checking their watch; it’s a sign that they don’t really care. The same can be said for a coach who is always checking their phone.
The site also warns golfers to be wary of coaches who bring too much technology into the lesson as it takes their focus away from you and your swing. It’s worth mentioning that you won’t have this technology with you on the course, which makes it unpractical in the long run.
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