Your Road to Improvement – Finding the Right Coach

By Doug Spencer
February 8, 2015


Winter is always the best time to fine tune your golf swing.

The key to improvement is finding a golf instructor whom you trust to take your game to the next level– empathy was a goal we talked about last week. And finding an instructor who is right for you is a lot like buying a car.

Driving Series

You need to figure out what your needs are, research the various models, talk to people to get their opinions, spend some time in the dealerships educating yourself,  and test drive before making your final decision.

Do Your Homework

Step 1

Make a list of all of the things you want to improve on with your instructor. Think about how much time you can dedicate to both practice and lessons.  This will often determine how much you can realistically work on with your pro.

How much money are you willing to spend? It is important to have some realistic goals in mind for the upcoming season and focus on those during your off season practice. The more prepared you are before you talk to prospective instructors, the better they can understand your needs.  If you have video of your swing ask him or her to review it before you meet.

It gives the pro a sense of what your swing looks like AND most importantly when you do meet, it gives you a sense of his/her game plan to help you reach your goals.

Step 2

Research pros in your area via the internet. Do they have websites and how current are they?  Do they have videos of lessons?  This will give you an idea of HOW they teach and WHAT they teach.

Call your local PGA association and ask for a list of pros in your city.  Talk to people at your club or on the range to see who they work with. Eavesdrop on a few lessons to get a sense of how the pro communicates with his/her player.  Do they have a blanket approach to teaching or do they adapt to each player’s needs and abilities?

What technology do they use to analyze the player and how effective are they in helping the player understand where the fault is and how to correct it?

Although progressive diagnostic tools, such as TrackMan and Flightscope are extremely helpful for swing improvement, it is most critical that the pro can communicate what it all means.

The Interview

Once you have chosen few pros, ask to sit down and talk about your goals for improvement.

Even before you meet, send your videos and an outline of who you are as a player and what you want to improve on. Be honest and realistic with these goals!

How prepared the pro is when meeting you will give you a strong indication of his/her commitment to your improvement.  Ask about lesson prices.  It is doubtful that one lesson is going dramatically change your area of focus.  Be realistic about that!  Pros are not miracle workers!

Ask about post lesson follow up.  Can you email questions, chat on the range, and send video for critiquing?  Ask about a package of lessons and supervision practice sessions.  Sometimes a 60 minute lesson and a couple of supervised sessions will leave you feeling confident about what you need to work on.

classroom series

Lesson Day

Arrive early for your lesson to stretch and warm up.  Remember why you are taking lessons……you want to improve on something.  Change is not easy so be patient!  A good golf swing was not built in a day! Don’t be afraid to ask questions if you don’t understand something.

Your pro needs to know if he/she is not making sense to you.   How can you go away and practice something if you are not clear in what and how to practice it?  Make sure your pro leaves you with one or two specific drills for you to practice.

Ask for video for you review.

Many pros will send their students a voice over video within a day of their lesson specifically discussing the focus of the lesson.  This allows you to watch and shadow swing and remember the key elements of your lesson.

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Post Lesson

  1.  Your homework is to PRACTICE.  You cannot expect to improve if you don’t!  Remember again, change is never easy so don’t expect that you will be perfect the first time you work on things.  Give it time and commit to the hard work of improvement!  Your golf game will thank you come spring time!
  2. Dear Diary..

One of the best ways to follow your progress is to keep a journal of what you are working on.  It will help you to key in on what and how your lessons and practice sessions are going.  It is always amazing to look back at your road to improvement and see how far you have come!

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Remember, learning is never easy; it takes a lot of dedication.  There will be days where you want to toss your clubs in the garbage but if you stick with it and develop a solid, communicative relationship with your pro, you will improve.  Relax and enjoy the journey!

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