Golf Lessons – Do They Really Work?

By Todd Kolb
May 12, 2013

Posted 05/12/2013

For some time now I have found it interesting that the golf industry has been able to
convince the public that improvement in golf can come from reading the latest Golf
Digest article or purchasing the brand new Taylor Made driver at the local golf shop.
Where did this come from and why do so many instructors, golfers and players buy into it
the concept? When we look at other activities where humans are learning a new skill, the development process is spread out over a long period of time with consistent reinforcement, training and coaching.

Take for example piano. If you ever played piano you know all too well
the weekly appointments with a teacher who insisted on weekly practice before returning
the following week. The same can be said for dance, swimming or karate just to name
a few. Each of these activities has training/coaching in place which allows for a natural
progression of learning and building one skill on top of the other. So if most all other
activities follow a similar path to learning, why does golf prescribe to its own set of

Ever since I can remember, golf lessons have been sold in a series. The word “series”
itself implies having an end or a completion resulting in mastery of that skill. When
you step back and think about all that goes into the game to play well, any common
sense person knows this will not work. However, many well intended golf instructors,
magazines, and club manufactures are pitching this concept every day. Honestly, it’s
time for the golf industry and instructors to start telling the truth.


I first heard the phrase long term development at a TPI certification
course I attended years ago in Oceanside, CA. TPI co-founder Dave Phillips was
encouraging golf instructors to change their thought process in how they approached
teaching. His concept of creating an environment of ongoing instruction, practice, and
support really opened my eyes and changed the way I teach and set up my programs. It
was a real change in my thought process and understanding of how to get the most out of
my students.

So as a parent, coach or golf instructor where does this leave us? Well, it’s fairly simple
in my opinion. Take a look around at other activities and ask yourself, am I taking a
similar approach to improving my golf game or have I fallen victim to the “series” fallacy
of improvement. To see real progress at anything requires hard work, discipline and
focus. These are non-negotiable in my experience. If someone in your life loves golf
and aspires to be a truly great player, do them a favor and be honest. Find and instructor
who understands the development process and make a commitment to support and work
toward a path that will actually work. In the end, you will be happy you did.

Todd Kolb


  1. great stuff Todd, I am a big fan of the daily improvement concept and something I teach and practice personally.

  2. Thanks Greg. We as teachers of the game need to be honest with our students and lay out a program/path that will truly allow them to progress.

  3. Todd, anyone looking to improve should undergo about a 5- to 8-lesson series throughout the summer here in South Dakota. I stopped buying magazines long ago because too much instruction is open to the reader’s interpretation. And besides, unless you can video yourself and understand swing concepts, self-teaching isn’t going to work for most of us.

  4. JTgolfer, great points. Your comment about “reader’s interpretation” is spot on. We might read something completely different than intended. 5-8 lessons is a good standard. Thanks for the comments!

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