Choosing a Golf Coach - Do Some Homework First!
Choosing a golf coach is a very important process and should not be done without doing some basic research first. It is surprising to some to find out that this industry is not regulated or monitored. What that means is simply anyone with a desire to teach, having absolutely no coaching credentials or certifications other than being an accomplished player could show up at a range or golf course and start teaching one day. In other words you could very well be taking lessons from a 16 handicap amateur with no professional training, certifications, or understanding of the human body cause and effect. Sadly this happens more often than one might think. Many practice ranges and smaller mom and pop style golf courses hire these types of instructors who are very accomplished players, but have never given a single lesson in their lives and do not understand the body swing relationships, club kinetics, motor learning abilities, and match-ups that deliver great golf consistently. They may charge almost as much as a well qualified well versed instructor with a fraction of the knowledge, none of the tools, or formal training or experience to provide a quality sustained plan for your growth as a player. Before you sign on with anyone, do some homework first.
A great instructor will be able to communicate to you not only what the priority areas for development are, but will be able to do so in a way that best matches your style of learning. We all learn differently and no two swings are alike. The instructor will also describe to you exactly what’s happening in relation to your own swing or stroke to help you understand what needs to be done to help you improve. Together, the two of you will then embark on a detailed plan that will include a practice plan and a very clear roadmap of how you’re going to achieve your goals. The great instructor will also be there to support and encourage all of his or her students through the ups and downs of the process. This individual will have a vested interest in your progress and development throughout the process, and you’ll be able to tell rather quickly which coaches care about your development as a player and which ones are simply “watching the clock” waiting for the next appointment.
You should always ask about an instructor’s philosophy as it pertains to how they will approach the lesson. Does your perspective teacher or coach even have a philosophy? What are some of their other responsibilities at the club or facility they’re at. Often times golf professionals have several different hats that they wear at their facility from running tournaments, to handling staff issues, to merchandising, and putting out fires of various types. Sometimes these other duties prevent the golf professional from spending the necessary time required to grow as an instructor, and to be able to follow up in a quality manner with their students. This certainly does not happen all the time but it is more common than not.
The bottom line is simply this; ask the questions. Find out if your coach is exclusive to teaching and stays up on current trends in instruction. Ask to take a tour of the facility or facilities where you’ll be learning. The more information you have, the better able to make a smart decision you’ll be. Remember, coaches that care will take the required time needed to satisfy all of your concerns. Ask!