Selecting the Right Golf Instructor for You

Golf Instruction
Buck Mayers (left) and Nyle Pruitt (right) pictured. Photo credit: Golf Magazine

Not all golf instructors are created equal. The right one for someone else may not be the best fit for you and your goals. The first mistake you can make is thinking that hiring any golf coach is going to help your game to the same degree. That isn’t necessarily true.

If you’re serious about improving your game, an instructor can help you immensely. There are some pretty easy and free ways to help increase the chances of hiring an instructor that is a good fit for you.

Before dropping a penny you should always:

Define your own goals – If you don’t know what you want to achieve, it will be a lot harder for a coach to help you. Are you a beginner seeking to learn fundamentals? Do you want a long term improvement plan? Do you want to fix your slice? Or improve your short game? Being able to communicate your goals with your instructor will make it much easier for them to help you.

Research – Most coaches will have some sort of a bio posted on their website (or their golf course’s website). Find one that resonates with you. Or if you’re considering an instructor at your home club you may already know them. If not, ask friends or other members about them and see if they have any feedback or personal experiences to share. It’s good to know a bit about them before you talk to them about lessons.

Interview them – Scheduling a lesson without knowing what you’re getting into can end up being a waste of money. Talk to them on the phone, send some e-mails back and forth, or ask if you you can meet them for a coffee and chat for 15 minutes. If they aren’t willing to spend 15 minutes talking to a potential client, than they aren’t a coach you’ll want to bother with. You don’t want to use up your valuable lesson time chatting about things that can easily be taken care of ahead of time.

Things you should tell them (if they don’t already ask):

a) Your goals
b) Your current handicap/skill level/strengths/weaknesses
c) Your time commitment to reach your goals. Having an hour per week or an hour per day to practice makes a big difference.
d) Your budget, if you have one. Lessons aren’t always cheap. If you can only afford a couple lessons, they can plan those lessons accordingly to maximize your benefit.

Things you should ask them:

a) What is your teaching philosophy?
– if what they say confuses you, or makes you feel uneasy, they might not be the coach for you. You also want a coach that can tailor their lessons to each individual student rather than using a “one size fits all” approach.

b) What is your teaching schedule?
– make sure that it won’t be too difficult to find lesson times that are convenient for you.

c) How many students do you have?
– Obviously if they don’t have any students I would question why. At the same time, if they have hundreds of students you might want to question if you’re going to get the quality personal instruction you’re looking for. Will it be hard to schedule lessons because they’re so busy? Will they remember what your goals are and what you’re working on?

d) Are you willing to do playing lessons?
– Playing lessons are great for golfers who are a bit more serious about shaving strokes off. You can delve into things that can’t be seen on the range — your attitude on the golf course, your course management skills, shot selections, and general decision making and thought processes.

e) Are you willing to help me develop a long term improvement and practice plan?
– If you’re dedicated to getting better, you want to make sure they’re just as dedicated to helping you achieve your goals. Ask them if they’ll develop a practice plan for you to make the most of your time in between lessons.

These are just some suggestions that will help you get a feel for their style and if you’ll be comfortable hiring them. If you already know an instructor,  it is still important to talk to them prior to your first lesson and lay out the groundwork. It will avoid wasting valuable lesson time and make the most of your dollar. Remember, you’re the one hiring them with your hard earned money, not the other way around.

Once your lessons begin, it’s up to you how much you get out of them. The instructor will do what he can in your lesson window to help you out, and then it is up to you to put the practice time in and solidify what you’re learning.

It will help a lot if you get your instructor to develop a practice schedule for you to follow in between lessons. Just make sure it is a realistic plan based on how much time you are willing to commit to practice. If you’re not willing to put in a bit of practice time between lessons, you might be better off saving your money for something else.

Hope this helps and good luck!

Happy golfing!


5 thoughts on “Selecting the Right Golf Instructor for You

  1. well warranted your advice about taking control of the lessons and setting objectives up front. sounds obvious but i was ready to approach as a wide-eyed student so i guess it’s not that obvious. merci! and happy traveling.
    FYI – if you visit Monterrey Bay while in No-Cal you should visit the aquarium and there’s a “Poor Man’s Pebble Beach” on the other side of Highway 1 if you don’t want to shell out big-bucks to get the majestic ocean views.
    Lastly – a drive down Highway 1 towards Big Sur is highly recommended. Nothing like it. Beautiful cliffs on 1 side, gorgeous ocean on the other – you should take down to San Luis Obispo and then hang out for some excellent Pinot Noirs in the “other” wine capital of Cali.
    Safe travels!!

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