Taking a golf lesson can be a potentially daunting experience for some, whether you are learning a totally new skill, you are hitting golf balls in front of someone else for the first time or you are nervous to make changes to your game. However, there are steps you can take that will make your learning experience so much more beneficial. I will sum them up into 5 key areas that you can try to implement at your next lesson which will go a long way to helping you improve much more quickly. If you are someone who is a regular taker of golf lessons and you are not seeing the improvements that you hoped you would see then ask yourself if you have ticked all 5 of these boxes:
1. Find the right instructor:
At our academy and beyond all instructors will possess different skills and different personalities. It may help your learning experience if you take a second to think of the following points:
1. Do I need someone with expertise in a specific area?
2. Which personality types do I typically warm to?
3. What is my budget?
For example, if you specifically need a putting lesson then it will be in your best interest to ask the academy if anyone specialises in putting lessons. Asking this question wherever you go may mean you get the best person you need for the job and the best information at hand. If you are someone who values the social aspects of a lesson over the information you are given then it will likely benefit you to have a quick phone call with the coach you are thinking of choosing or even a quick face to face chat to make sure that you aren’t committing your time and money to someone who isn’t a great match for your personality, because inevitably you will have to spend quite a bit of time one-to-one with this person! Lastly you have to consider is it worth spending your money on one lesson with a very experienced coach or putting that money into a package of lessons with a less experienced coach. There are good instances where both make sense but you have to consider which coach you need at that moment in time.
2. Be on Time:
This may sound like an obvious one but we do teach a large amount of students who maybe arrive to their lessons bang on the time it is due to start or maybe even a little after. Inevitably in this case the first 5-10 minutes of the lesson will be spent warming up because it will take 10 minutes to see you move how you normally would on the course and this doesn’t give us a true reflection of what you normally do, as well as wasting time. I would recommend arriving around 10-15 minutes early to stretch if that’s what you normally do and to hit a few balls so you are feeling loose by the time the lesson begins.
There is a good point to be made that you should turn up to a lesson like you would do to the golf course so as we are dealing with exactly the same person. If you normally stretch before a round of golf you should do the same for a lesson. If you normally have a coffee before you play you should probably have a coffee before your lesson because we want to see the same golfer on the range that we would expect to see on the course.
3. Be honest, open minded and ask questions:
We as coaches understand it can feel intimidating when someone analyses and critiques your swing but you have to remember why you took the lesson in the first place, you aren’t playing very well and you want to get better! If you have followed step 1 and you have picked who you feel is the right coach for you then you need to put your full trust in them to help you. You have to trust that they have your best interests in mind and they are telling you what you need to do to improve and not what you think you need to do.
When they try to get to know you in the initial few minutes be honest about your history in golf, previous lessons, injuries and what your goals are. These answers will help the instructor to work out how best to structure your lessons and how they deliver the information. It’ll make the coaches job so much easier if you come to a lesson prepared with any questions you would like them to answer because our job as coaches is to ensure that you leave the lesson with more answers than questions. If something doesn’t make sense then please don’t be scared to tell us because a good coach will be able to explain the same point in my different ways, some ways will make sense to you and others won’t and it is important to use that we find the way that clicks with you the most.
4. Create a plan with your coach
You should never leave a golf lesson and not know what the next step is. Now, that doesn’t mean your coach has to perfectly lay out all of your practice ball by ball for the next week, but you need to leave the lesson with some actionable takeaways that you can work on before the next lesson. This is where being honest with your coach will be beneficial because if you are a golfer who only plays on the course and doesn’t go to the driving range then make sure that your coach doesn’t give you a bunch of drills to take to the range that will inevitably be useless to you. If you are a visual learner then make sure your coach sends you some videos or some photos from the lessons that you can try to replicate. If you learn by writing things down then you would benefit from writing down some key points in a notebook before you leave the lesson. If you are consistent in your efforts during and after the lesson and you stick to the plan then your coaching experience is far more likely to be a success.
5. Follow Up:
Lastly, keep in touch with the coach between lessons. If you had a good practice session then drop them a text and maybe a video from the session. Equally if you struggled and something doesn’t make sense then reach out and double check that what you are working on is actually correct. We at the academy use an app called Coachnow to engage with students between lessons and it is a portal where we can both post text, photos and videos and create an archive of what we have worked on in previous lessons. This allows us to ensure that students are following the practice plan that we have prescribed and also that the student has an archive on information to look back on if needs be.
Maybe some of these points resonate with you and are holding you back from reaching your golfing potential. Ensuring that you get the most out of your lesson experience will ensure that you get more value for your money, you reach your goals much more quickly and that you waste much less time along the way!