With drops in temperatures and fewer hours of daylight that come with the fall and winter seasons in the U.S., the traditional golf season as we know it begins to wind down. While you may not be able to sneak nine holes in after work or put a few hours of work in on the range, the fall and winter months provide ample opportunities to work with a golf instructor to make swing changes or work on some of the more complicated mechanics of the golf swing. Working with an instructor is a surefire way to improve your golf game; however, there are few things you should do and a few you shouldn’t when selecting a golf instructor
Do: Ask if the instructor if he or she has any specific programs for improvement.
A qualified and effective golf instructor will offer specific organized training programs for improvement. These programs may exist in the form of a series of lesson packages, with each lesson targeting a specific aspect of the game, or monthly check-ins to gauge improvement. Any improvement program should offer a specific timeline with”realistic” goals or benchmarks to measure performance. By asking for a specific program with obtainable goals, you can forge a strong relationship with an instructor that will create a path towards continuous and sustainable improvement.
Don’t: Select an instructor strictly based on cost.
Working with a golf instructor is certainly expensive, and affordability should certainly be considered. Although, simply selecting an instructor because his or her prices are the lowest around is not an effective way to improve your golf game. Nevertheless, selecting the most expensive instructor is not a guarantee for improvement, either. Rather than focusing solely on cost, you should first find an instructor you are comfortable with, including location, swing philosophies, and practice routines among others.
Do: Ask what the instructor’s teaching philosophy is.
Golfers today have access to an inordinate amount of information about the swing, course management, equipment, etc. This access can often make understanding the fundamentals of the game difficult. An instructor should be able to effectively communicate these fundamentals, as well as any advice, tips, or drills in a manner you can understand. If you as the student, cannot understand or communicate with your instructor, you will not improve your game to the best of your abilities. By asking what an instructor’s teaching philosophy is, you can home in on how they work with their students and make an informed decision on whether or not the instructor’s teaching style will work for you.
Don’t: Select an instructor who claims to have found the secret to quickly shooting lower scores
Any golfer that has spent some time watching the sport on TV or conducting research on the internet has come across an individual who claims to have found golf’s greatest secret to instantaneously shooting lower scores. Do not select an instructor solely based on such a claim. Talented golf instructors certainly have found new techniques that may prove effective; however, there is no substitute for practice hard work. If you want to improve your golf game, practice is a must, and a qualified instructor understands that. Buying into an instructor who claims to have secret knowledge that no other instructor can offer is only going to hinder your ability to improve.
Do: Ask if the instructor will teach the entire game of golf
Golf consists of more than just swinging a club, and, as such, an instructor should certainly address more than simply swinging the golf club. While a fundamentally-sound golf swing is necessary for success, golf also requires course management, mental stability, and knowledge of rules and etiquette. A qualified instructor will address all facets of the game, not just work to improve your swing mechanics, and will offer insight on how to improve all areas of your game. Limiting you golf knowledge to swing fundamentals only will not only prevent you from improving, but will also prevent you from fully enjoying some of the best aspect’s of the game.
Don’t: Rely on an instructor who provides temporary swing fixes across isolated lessons
The journey to a better golf game is a process and one that involves continuous analysis and evaluation. An instructor’s job is to assist you on this journey and arm you with the knowledge to fully understand what actions you must take to improve and reach your goals. Regardless of whether you are looking to shoot under 100 for the first time, or you are making a push to become a scratch golfer, temporary swing fixes, or “band-aids” will preclude you from reaching your goals. An instructor who offers a few simple changes to your swing a few times a year will not help you sustain improvement. You may find these fixes help you strike the ball well on the range a few times; however, they will not help you permanently improve. A qualified instructor will help you recognize what changes to your golf game are necessary and how to make these changes.
Selecting a golf instructor to work with is a serious decision as it can dictate how quickly and how significantly your playing ability improves. After considering the ideas mentioned above, another factor to consider is an instructor’s credibility. In the golf industry, numerous certifications exist, and not all certifications are created equally. While some certifications require years of teaching experience and a high-level of playing ability, others simply require completion of an online course spanning no more than a few hours. When selecting an instructor, considering what certifications the instructor has is critical. Key certifications to look for are:
Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA) – Endorsement from the Apprentice through Master Teaching Professional level – The PGA designation is the gold standard for golf instructors across the globe. An instructor endorsed by the PGA has passed a playing ability test (PAT), has amassed several hours of teaching experience, and has completed several instructional courses taught by the foremost authorities in the game of golf. An instructor with this certification is likely to know what is needed to help you reach your golfing goals.
Titleist Performance Institute (TPI) – The TPI designation targets the physical and physiological aspects of the golf swing. Instructors with this certification possess the knowledge necessary to help you find the most effective and efficient way for your body to swing the golf club. A TPI certified instructor can provide you with the tools you need to leverage your physical make-up into an improved golf game.
Additional technological certifications (Sam Putt-Lab, K-Vest, Trackman University) – Technology has ability to further enhance your understanding of your golf game. In a similar fashion to many other aspects of your life, technology can make your journey to am improved golf game much easier. Instructors with certifications in these areas possess technological knowledge that will help you understand the quantitative aspects of golf and help you use them to reach your highest potential.