Tip 3 in my “5 Tips for Every Beginner” post was having a golf lesson early on so that you don’t get into bad swing habits and you have another person to analyse your swing.
When I first started playing golf, I had a couple of group lessons which were good as you get to know other people and it is a fun and relaxed environment to learn the basics quickly.
Golf lessons are an investment and prices vary across the UK. Your budget will obviously play a part as to where, how regularly and what type of lessons you have. Group lessons are typically cheaper than individual lessons and some clubs offer golf taster days or crash courses so you can get up to speed quickly (usually over the summer months).
I quickly decided that I wanted individual lessons so that I could focus on specific parts of my game and swing. In the rest of this blog post, I have noted down some things (aside from cost) that you should consider when having lessons and what you should get out of your golf lessons.
You should find out whether the teacher is accredited (PGA, LPGA) and what kind of people they teach e.g. juniors, men, women, high, low handicappers etc. Most teachers I know teach a wide variety of abilities but it is still worth checking. A common question I am asked as a female is whether it is better to have a female teacher. My simple answer is that it really is a personal choice. Since I started playing at the age of 16 on and off, I've worked with 4 different teachers, only one of whom was female and I have learnt a great deal from each of them.
You may be recommended a teacher by someone you know which is always a helpful starting point.
It is also worth checking their availability based on how often you are thinking of having your lessons. You definitely need a teacher who can fit in with your lifestyle and other commitments. I would suggest booking "your slot" with them every few weeks. This gives both you and your teacher the discipline to get ready for that lesson and saves valuable time just trying to sort out a lesson time in the first place.
2. Comfort and compatibility
You need to find a teacher who you feel comfortable and relaxed with. One of the first questions I get asked every lesson is something along the lines of, “What do you want to work on?” You should start thinking about going to every golf lesson with an aim of what you want to get out of it. This will become clearer as you progress and know what you want to focus on. You need to work with someone who understands your aims.
I sat down with my teacher in January one year to write down some tough but achievable general aims and targets with timescales that helped focus my attention. It is only now that I’ve become more dedicated to my golf that I’m beginning to achieve them, but it always helps to have something to strive for.
Following on from the point above, you need to be able to understand your teacher and their method of teaching. Just like when you were back at school, everyone learns differently and teachers have different ways of teaching. I have met teachers who are very technical and will talk about the physics of the swing, others will talk more about feel and will try and use helpful analogies you can relate to and there are of course teachers who will use a mixture of both and other techniques.
3 years ago I was on a par 3 course with my brother. A man on the fairway adjacent to us hit a shot onto our fairway and ran over immediately to apologise. He was so frustrated with his swing and said he had just had a golf lesson where he changed his swing and now he doesn’t know what he’s doing wrong. I vividly remember how annoyed and deflated he was.
The key takeaway from the scenario above? You need to be able to walk away from a lesson and replicate what you’ve just learnt. Your teacher should have given you enough clear, concise and repeatable actions that you can work on yourself. When I first started learning, I was told that you often feel like your golf game is worse after a lesson because you’re changing your technique, but you should still know what you need to work on and what you’re aiming for. The worst thing is spending money on a lesson and then feeling deflated an hour afterwards because you can’t remember what you need to do!
I like writing things down (part of the reason why I started this blog!) and I always try and write down the key techniques and drills I have learnt in my lesson as soon as I can. The few times I have forgotten to do this, I have always regretted it. You could try and ask your teacher to set aside 5 minutes at the end of the lesson to do this together or one of you could write up some notes after a lesson and send them to each other.
There are so many training aids and different types of golf technology out there. I find having videos of my swing for me to analyse after a lesson very helpful. I can often be found carefully scrolling through a slow-motion video of my swing – it gives me the feedback I need to figure out what I am doing right and wrong and shows me the things I don’t realise I’m doing – both good and bad!
I think as a beginner you don’t need to personally buy lots of different training aids, especially as the choice of products out there can be quite overwhelming and expensive. However, your teacher should have the right equipment and tools they need to deliver a lesson in the most effective way for your learning, so make sure you’re getting the most out of your lesson with the available technology and equipment.
I’ll write future posts on this because I think it is helpful as a starting point for a beginner. The key is to find someone you click with and can work with.