You have been looking at getting into a new hobby that will get you outside more, so you decide to dabble in golf to take advantage of the long afternoon walks and beautiful weather. However, after weeks on the course, you have to accept that you are just as bad at golf now as the day you first got the idea to start this new hobby and realize that it’s time for some lessons.
How do you make the most out of your golf lessons? There are 10 golden tips that will help you get the most out of your golf lessons. As a beginner, these 12 tips will be highly effective in helping you master troublesome areas of your game.
An important concept to remember is that it is not always the lesson that improves your game, but, rather, the individual work you do outside of your lessons. By performing your individual work, the return on investment for your time at lessons will compound exponentially. As such, there are a number of mental and physical approaches golfers must take to maximize returns.
The Golden Tips for Maximizing Your Golf Lessons
In order to get the most out of your golf lessons, you must be intentional, deliberate, and detailed in your approach to becoming a better golfer.
Golden Tip Number One: Consider Questions in Advance
The time you have with your coach or golf pro is likely to be extremely limited, possibly even as little as one hour at a time. Furthermore, a few golf lessons are free. As such, you do not want to waste a significant amount of your instructional time in having your coach mull the response to a difficult or superfluous question.
In general, there are a few guidelines the golf learner should follow in regard to questions during the lesson:
- Try to answer questions yourself – if the question is extremely general or has an answer that can easily be found with a quick Internet search, look for the answer before asking your coach. You don’t want to be wasting your valuable instructional time with questions that could have been answered for free
- Email questions, if possible – if you have a question that is specific to your game and cannot be answered with a simple Internet search, try emailing the question to your coach before the lesson. Some coaches will respond to your email requests for information, which will save time during the lesson
- Ask questions at the end – if you have not been able to find the answer yourself or get a response via email, make sure to ask questions at the end of sessions. Even if your coach or pro does not have the answer immediately, he or she is likely to mull over the question and reach out between sessions or at the beginning of your next lesson
- Make questions specific – again; you want to be picking your instructor’s brain for stuff you cannot find on the Internet. Keep your questions relegated to certain aspects of your game or mechanical issues in your swing
Golden Tip Number Two: Arrive at Lessons Early
Many novices make the mistake of arriving at a lesson right on time. While being on time is plenty good in most walks of life, it is not sufficient when talking about golf lessons.
As with any sport or physical activity, golf requires that participants be warm and stretched out in order for them to be able to maximize performance. If learners are spending the first 10-15 minutes of a golf lesson warming up, they are not maximizing their return on the instruction a coach can provide.
A golfer’s typical routine prior to a lesson should go as follows:
- Arrive at the site 15 minutes early
- Go through a comprehensive stretching routine, with extra focus given to the hips, back, and shoulders
- Take a couple of practice shots with each club in your bag
By following this schedule, the learner will be warmed up and ready to go at the start of the lesson, allowing him or her to leverage instructional time to the fullest.
Golden Tip Number Three: Be Specific
While there are certainly some golf coaches who will come into each lesson with a predetermined plan for what they will work on and some coaches who will let you take some swings and work through issues that they see, you may have a lesson where the coach asks, “What do you want to work on?”
If this is the case, be sure to have a specific answer in mind (please, please, please don’t say “I don’t know“).
Make sure that you are able to identify weaknesses in your game and put your coach to the test on how he or she can help you in a specific area. Avoid responses such as “I want to get better at driving” in favor of “Coach, I want you to help me with my back position when driving.”
Depending on just how new you are to golf, some of these more specific questions may not come naturally. However, it is better to be specific in your training when possible, as it is easier to identify problems and measure results when problems are tackled incrementally.
Golden Tip Number Four: Record Information as Thoroughly as Possible
No matter how well you pay attention during a golf lesson, you are going to forget more than you retain the moment you walk off the course.
As such, it is crucial that you take notes on your smartphone while your coach is instructing (or with a pen and paper if you are not tech-savvy).
If you are able to obtain consent prior to the lesson, by all means, record the session for later review, as long as it is not overly distracting from your ability to focus on the lesson in real-time.
Golden Tip Number Five: Get Interactive
While it is important to pay attention, record, and take notes as thoroughly as possible, that will not be enough to improve your golf game.
Even if you are a visual learner, sitting back and observing is not going to turn you into Tiger Woods. You’ve actually got to do it.
Therefore, find a coach who offers a healthy balance of instruction and practice during a lesson. If that is not his or her particular style, politely ask if you can get some time to practice in between demonstrations.
You will want to be able to observe the movements your coach is making and then put them into practice yourself. It is helpful if your coach can critique your position and make sure that everything is set during the lesson; that way, you have the feel of proper mechanics when you go to practice on your own time.
Golden Tip Number Six: Don’t Expect Massive Changes Overnight
You are not going to go from beginner to PGA professional in one lesson. In fact, even the most highly ranked pros in the game today fall into ruts and work on various aspects of their games with their coaches.
One of the most significant reasons that people give up and fail to improve their golf games is because they become bogged down in frustration over how slowly they perceive their game to be advancing. There are a couple of important notes to this point:
- Golf is hard to self-observe – even though it may feel like things are going poorly for you, your coach may have a completely different opinion. It can sometimes be hard to see the forest through the trees if you are trying to conquer the world in a day
- Focus on the small victories – this is yet another reason why it is important to be specific in your approach to your lessons. While you can’t go from “bad golfer” to “good golfer” in one lesson, you can go from “poor foot position when putting” to “good foot position when putting” in one lesson. These small victories add up over time
Golden Tip Number Seven: Take Time in Between Lessons
Another trap that beginning golfers make is that they try to take too many lessons, too soon.
In fact, some golf professionals argue that you should take no more than one lesson per week, with some even advocating for a two to three-week break in between sessions.
It is recommended that players spend at least two practice sessions of their own time working on the concept(s) they went over at lesson prior to going back for another session with their coach. If you are scheduling multiple lessons per week, there are simply not enough hours in a day to get the necessary individual practice in on your own time.
In addition, trying to learn too many concepts simultaneously inhibits an individual’s ability to master any of them. If a beginning golfer tries to move on to something new before perfecting an earlier technique, he or she may fall into bad habits that can lead to setbacks, as practicing bad habits reinforces the wrong way of doing things.
Golden Tip Number Eight: Do All of Your Practice Drills and Ghost Swings
For whatever reason, technique tends to break down when an implement is added to someone’s hand. A young powerlifter can look great when going through the motions, but his or her form becomes cringe-worthy when weight is introduced; an aspiring musician looks captivating with the air guitar but completely awkward with a real guitar in hand.
The same can be said for a golfer and his or her clubs, yet, for some reason, young golfers just want to grab their clubs and start hitting balls.
Good coaches will provide golfers with various drills to go through without the club in hand and a ghost swing routine they should go through prior to striking the ball. It is imperative that golfers go through these routines rigorously in order to ensure that their real swing comes out the way they want it.
Furthermore, prior to any real swing, golfers should be conscientious of their stance. They should ask themselves the following questions:
- Are my feet positioned where the coach instructed me during my lesson?
- Is my balance properly distributed?
- Are my head, shoulders, back, and hips properly aligned?
Finally, if golfers have been taking an interactive approach to their learning during lessons, they should be trained to know what a good swing feels like. If something feels awry, stop the swing at the top of the motion. Golf is a very intricate game, and even the most minor of glitches can lead to major trouble in your game.
One of the most significant mistakes young golfers make is that even though they are able to detect something wrong with their swing, they go ahead and complete it anyway. Not only does this put them at risk of potential injury, but it is a repetition in which bad habits are reinforced.
Golden Tip Number Nine: Don’t Practice at the Driving Range
While the driving range does have its benefits, it is not a place where young golfers should be practicing the techniques they learned during lessons.
At the driving range, you are likely to have a limited selection of clubs–perhaps a driver, a nine iron, or a seven iron. You are also going to be hitting off a solid, flat surface and in conditions that are highly controlled. This can give the golfer unrealistic expectations of what to expect during real play.
When trying to make the most of lessons, young golfers need to practice in environments that most closely mirror the conditions in which they will need to put their techniques to use. They need to pick the right club for the conditions and for what was practiced at the lesson.
Therefore, practice what you learned at lessons on a real course with a full golf bag at your disposal.
Golden Tip Number Ten: Don’t Keep Score
One of the final and most significant mistakes that golfers make when trying to capitalize on their lessons is that they go straight from their lesson into a game. This shifts their focus from becoming a better golfer to seeing how to get the ball in the hole as quickly as possible.
The problem with this is that their methods for getting the ball into the hole as quickly as possible often directly contradict the proper technique learned during the lesson. This can be the frustrating thing with learning a new sport or craft: sometimes, learning how to do it right can feel like it’s setting you back.
Which it will, but only in the short term.
Over the long haul, dedicated, and focused practice on the concepts learned during lessons will lead to huge improvements in a golfer’s overall game. Therefore, in order to get the most out of their lessons, golfers should avoid going from the lesson and playing in competitive games and focus on the following principles:
- Scrap putting – unless a lesson was directly designed to work on putting, leave your putter in the bag. Putting can lead to infatuation and frustration that preempts a young golfer from working on other aspects of his or her game
- Don’t worry about how far you hit it – it’s easy to get caught up in a driving contest. Everyone wants to see how far they can make the ball go. However, overexerting in an attempt to hit it far leads to breakdowns in technique. Focus on proper form and trust that with form, distance will come
- Have fun on the course – don’t view it as practice. Be amazed that you can take part in an activity that allows you to be outside and experience all that nature has to offer
How Many Golf Lessons Should a Beginner Take?
The amount of lessons a beginning golfer should take varies largely on a number of factors. First, what do you consider a beginner? Is it someone who is relatively new to the sport, or someone who has absolutely no experience at all?
For someone who is a beginner in the sense that they are still a novice in the sport, then there is really no limit as to the number of lessons he or she should take. As mentioned earlier in the article, he or she should try to focus lessons toward a specific aspect of his or her game and spend several sessions of individual practice for each lesson received.
Once the coach feels confident that one aspect of the game is under control, then he or she may move onto another area of concern.
If someone is a beginner in that they know absolutely nothing about the game and are trying to take a crash course in golf, then some within the industry argue that there are 15 essential lessons a beginning golfer must take.
These essential lessons will be broken down into lessons that cover the basic rules and etiquette of golf, how to play the various zones of the course, how and when to use each club, proper swing mechanics, and how to navigate out of trouble.