I have been playing this game for almost 25 years (competitively for the first ten of those years and recreationally since becoming a full-time coach. I have taken roughly 30 lessons during my amateur and professional playing days from three or four different instructors, including England team coaches and leading Australian coaches. Each one of those experiences benefited me and gave me new ideas on the specific work I needed to do in my practice sessions, and on the course to improve my game and lower my scores.
Golf lessons are arguably the most efficient way to improve as a golfer, and there isn’t a single golfer (in the world) that does not need some help.
I understand that not everyone reading this may be able to take golf lessons, but I do believe that finding a good coach (whether online or in-person) is so important for anyone who wants to improve. With golf lessons, there is no guarantee of success, but like anything else in life: whether it’s fitness, business, or relationships, there’s only so much you can do on your own. A good fitness coach for example will be able to provide you with a plan specific to your fitness goals. If you wanted to run a marathon, your plan would be very different from someone striving to become a powerlifter.
Finding a good golf coach with the experience of helping everyday golfers just like you, can help you speed up the process of improvement. They will be able to find solutions to your problems much faster and provide a clear road map to success.
When to take lessons
There are many good times to take a lesson. From the beginner wanting to start with the correct fundamentals, to the elite player who is serious about becoming the best they can be and the everyday golfer who just wants to enjoy the game more and get the most out of the limited time they have to play and practice.
Unsurprisingly, most golfers that come to see me for a golf lesson seem to do so at the point when they feel they have completely lost direction with their swing. On any given day they don’t know which direction the ball will be going and they seem to be on an endless search for the answer: watching the latest YouTube and Instagram videos in the hope to find the “secret” to unlocking their potential. And invariably, they become more frustrated and demoralised with the game.
You might chuckle at this point because I may have just described your closest golfing friends, or hey, even yourself. But that’s okay, even I’m guilty of searching online for the latest solution to many of life’s problems. Yet, despite living in a world where we have so much incredible information at our fingertips, so many golfers still struggle to move forward with their game.
I believe we have the information we need, but there’s just so much information that it can be overwhelming to know where to even start. The hard truth is that if you fall into that category, it probably makes sense to see someone who can give you some clarity. Golf is hard enough, and if you continue without any real focus or plan, it might permanently damage your enjoyment of the game and make you want to quit.
Stop playing the roulette wheel and find your faults
Searching for the next best thing online can be like spinning a roulette wheel and looking for the 1 in 36 chance that you find the right video that will be the right solution for your problem. There’s a lot of GREAT information out on the internet and YouTube that offers so much free value to the golfing community. I’m not saying don’t do it, as there’s so much learning that can be done. Even I love sharing free value through my own YouTube and social media channels. However, I just urge you to be careful of falling into a cycle of jumping from one hot tip to the next. Instead, stick to something that you know is right for you and don’t quit and move on to the next thing just because the first few swings with the new tip on the range that day didn’t work.
Just imagine how much clearer your mind would be if you’d been given the exact drill or practice plan that was specific to YOUR goals and needs. How good would it feel to know you were making the most out of your practice time? Which (let’s face it) is very limited time for most of us with busy family lives and work schedules.
Even if you started with 3-4 golf lessons with a good coach, they can give you some ideas on a more efficient way to spend your practice time on the range so that you can put productive work in on your swing.
Benefits of a good coach using the latest technology
I’d recommend finding a coach who is passionate about the game and truly wants to help you get better. If the coach utilizes very little technology, you might want to reconsider. There is a great deal of technology from Trackman to the simple video recording of your swing. If you are taking a lesson and paying for it, you want the best tools possible to help you reach your full potential.
3 benefits of video analysis and Trackman technology:
1 Empowers you to understand what you are doing well and what you can improve.
When you are making a golf swing, it's difficult to notice micro-movements/ mistakes because your mind is focused on a holistic goal. But, truth is, long-term technical progress happens when many small changes compound over time. To that end, Trackman and video analysis tools offer a clear way to communicate potential areas where you can improve your form.
On the flip side, they also help highlight what you are doing right.
2. Highlights your progression
By our nature, we are driven by the pursuit of progress. Video analysis and technology give you the context you need to see your improvements over time.
It is a lot easier to stay motivated and be consistent with your practice plan when you see yourself moving closer to your goal (even if it feels slow in the moment!). The third-person perspective you get from Trackman and video analysis can do wonders for your confidence and help towards creating lasting success.
It’s a great feeling when I get to show a player their past videos or trackman data as a reminder of the progress they have made. Something we can often lose sight of.
You need feedback from a good coach that can show you the changes in ball flight, swing, and Trackman data. The improvement process is so much quicker and there’s absolutely NO guesswork. A good coach has analysed thousands of golf swings and can see and diagnose issues within just a few swings.
For example, as a TPI (Titleist Performance Institute) coach, I can often get a good picture of how a player might swing BEFORE I even see them hit a ball. This is based purely on a movement screen along with years of experience.
That’s what you’re investing in when you see a good golf coach. The years of experience working at their craft and someone who knows what it takes to get you the long-lasting results that you’re looking for.
Have you ever wondered how good your golf could potentially be?
Your golf coach should work with you to assess your current level and what your goals are for the future. A good coach will get to know you very quickly and understand your lifestyle, commitment levels, and how much time you realistically have to practice. I am a busy Dad and golf coach and I understand that that time is limited for most of us. As such, to get the most out of your practice you need to have a practice plan that is as efficient as possible and focuses on the areas that you most need to improve.
If I can say one thing here, please be honest with your coach. Tell them if you don’t have much time to practice. If that’s the case, a good coach should (I believe) not be filling your head with five different swing thoughts and drills that would be needed to be repeated with long periods of blocked practice to make a change. With this knowledge, a good coach would look for the least invasive way to make the desired change, knowing it may not be optimal, but one that can still move you closer towards your goals and honour the other demands on your life.
On the flip side, if you do have a lot of time to practice and you are willing to invest your time and money into golf lessons for the long term, you need to adjust your expectations. Showing up for a 1-hour lesson isn’t going to make you miraculously better. As I’ve mentioned above, typically the first lesson is going to involve the coach assessing your game, finding the causes of your issues, and then begin forming a plan to fix them.
It’s up to you to then follow the plan. Even then, it could take weeks or even months to begin seeing the results you would like on the course.
It takes work to make changes on your swing. But if you are doing the RIGHT kind of work, then your chances of improvement will increase. The lesson is just the first step. Let’s say your golf coach gives you a few drills to perform over the next few weeks before your next lesson – you actually need to spend time on them. If you show up unprepared for the next lesson, then that is on you.
UNDERSTAND YOUR GOLF SWING
Since most people can’t afford to have a swing coach with them every time they play, you must grow a good understanding of what your faults are and how to read your ball flight so you can then make the proper adjustments as you play.
Having a golf coach will help you better understand the golf swing and the ball flight laws. A quality golf coach should help you grow in your understanding of your swing and use video to pinpoint where your faults are.
This approach can help you become your own teacher where you can begin to be less reliant on the coach and make adjustments and manage your game on the golf course when things aren’t going to plan on a given day. My goal as a golf coach is to reduce the frequency (or even the need) for a client to see me. Yes, that may mean a loss of income. But it means more golfers enjoying this great game.
You can always seek referrals from friends who have had coaching or even look at online reviews for golf coaches if you aren't sure where to start when looking for a good golf coach.
Do Not take unsolicited advice
There is no shortage of golfers who are willing to look at your swing and offer what they believe is the fix. I don’t care if it’s your best friend or the stranger in the bay next to you. They are likely going to make you worse. It takes a lot of experience and training to properly diagnose a golf swing.
This is probably one of the biggest problems amongst recreational golfers. They are taking swing tips from sources that are not qualified to give them. Don’t let your desperation for a better swing lead you down that path. I’m sure your friends mean well. But, if you want qualified advice, work with someone who knows what they are doing.
Additionally, if you feel like you need help in other areas of the game just ask for it. There are plenty of other topics outside of the swing that golf lessons can help you with. Ask your golf coach for a playing lesson to work with you on your strategy and mental game, and make sure they get the full picture of how you operate during a round.
Unfortunately, we live in a quick-fix culture. Many players will come to a lesson looking for a way to fix their slice, and expect the answer and solution neatly packaged for them. It doesn’t always work that way. Making meaningful changes to your golf swing will take time and effort. You are going to be changing motor patterns. That doesn’t happen overnight simply by a theoretical understanding of what you need to do.
In other words, be prepared to put some work in if you are going to invest in golf lessons. If you don’t believe you can make that commitment then it might be a good idea to wait until a time that you can.
Australian PGA Professional
Advanced Golf Coach