How to Pick a Golf Coach/Instructor…

Hello fellow golfers, its Matt here at Golf Geeks HQ, I hope all is well.

Today we are talking about should an amateur golfer have lessons and should you have a golf coach?

If you’re going to spend money on your hobby, unless you’re using an old set of golf clubs, it is nearly always money better spent on improving your skill than putting a slightly better golf club in your hand. The reason I say that is because you don’t have to look far for this to be proved.

Lots of YouTube Pro’s will do a gimmicky video where they take new clubs and compare them to a set of 20+-year-old clubs. In nearly all examples they play almost as well as with the new stuff and definitely well enough to beat my mid-handicap scores, with the latest equipment!

The good thing with lessons is it is likely to highlight if you do have an issue with your equipment. There may be something in the bag where you have a considerable yardage gap between your clubs or perhaps your swing has changed, and your current clubs are not the best suited, you may need graphite shafts now or hybrids to replace those long irons your struggling to hit these days.

The other thing aswell is your chipping clubs. If like many mid/high handicappers, you have a PW and a SW and that’s it at that end of your bag it might highlight a big issue here as well. Those touchy/feely short game shots a lot of the time are a big difference between us and the single figure & scratch golfers. It wasn’t until I found my coach that I put a 47’ / 52’/ 56’ & 60’ wedges in my bag instead of just 47’ & 60’.

Lots of us amateurs have never had lessons, fact. I know loads, one as low as an 11 handicap who has never had a lesson. Bubba Watson hasn’t either apparently! For some that’s enough, they’ve hit a brick wall and will not get any better, but that’s ok. If that’s the case great! Go enjoy yourself, sometimes I envy these guys as, at times, I forget to as I’m trying to improve at all times.

If your keen to get better & don’t have a coach or your having lessons but aren’t improving these are some tips and pointers I would suggest are essential when choosing a coach.

Just because there is a PGA coach at your club that does not mean they are automatically the right coach for you. In fact, far from it. However, it is the obvious place to start, and I would recommend you go chat with them and talk about your game a little bit. Where you’re at with your game, whats good whats bad, last lesson, do you practice etc. All these things they should be asking you as they qualify you as a potential student.

The teaching style is another crucial factor that needs to fit with how you learn.
Some golfers are technical and like lots of data from Trackman while others are natural and feel dominates how they learn, and they get little from lots of numbers on a screen but want to explore where the club should be at the top, impact and follow-through.
Most decent coaches will have both styles in their locker but some won’t, and so this is important to decipher before you commit.

Never book block lessons from the start – many offer this as a package deal. It allows you to schedule a lot of lessons at a discounted rate. While this is a great tool once you know the coach is the right guy for you, do not do this before your first lesson! You need to have bought into the teaching style & content before committing to this.

I know golfers who have booked 5 lessons for the price of 4 who then go for the first couple, don’t enjoy them and never go back. This also gives them a lousy experience of golf lessons, and they end up never having them again.

I would suggest you go meet and talk about your game to at least the most conveniently placed 3-4 Golf coaches in your area and have a 30 mins ‘taster’ lesson with each one and then go home and analyse for yourself which coach you liked best.

I don’t mean the one who asked you the most questions about your cat! I mean the one who listened to what you said & tailored the lesson experience according to what you said. Which one did you feel seemed the most flexible to adapt the coaching experience to you and your situation.

At this point, it is essential to say that you need to be completely and 100% honest with your golf coach from the off. Be truthful with how much time you have to dedicate to practising. Don’t tell him you are fully committed and he gives you loads to practice, and you don’t touch your clubs again until your next lesson because he will soon find you out and things will go south, quick. If you don’t have much time to practice and you only want a ‘quick fix’ tell them that and they should concentrate on the thing that will give you the fastest ‘instant’ result to help whatever your main issue is at that time.

If your fully committed tell them this and if your swing has to be re-built that’s fine because you’ve invested the time to do it.

This is another factor why many don’t go near a golf coach because they have a fear that the coach will destroy their swing and try to change it totally. This is a myth that the golf coaching industry needs to address/break because when you find a good coach, he will understand that every swing has its own individuality to it. However, there is a set amount of fundamentals we all need to achieve to get the face back to the ball to make solid strikes.

The pro tours are a classic example of how many ways there are to get the job done. Bubba, Finau, DeChambeau, Matsuyama, Stricker, Wolfe are all examples of this, but they all play great golf.

A coach who teaches one way or the high way is a lazy one and not worthy of your time and money, in my opinion.

So, do your homework & due-diligence first. Don’t go with the first guy. He might be right but if he’s not and you have a bad experience you may never have met the golf coach 5 miles down the road who was the best thing to ever happen to your game.

My own experience for what it’s worth is I have been through about 3 coaches before I settled on my current guy. The first 2 were friendly people, but one taught his way, and that was the only option (21 handicap to 28), the second was very technical and relied on the Trackman to tell him what I was doing with every shot and discussed lots of power moves and positions I needed to be in at each stage of the swing (28 to 25 handicap).

My current coach watched me hit 20 balls before he even said a word. A few little tweaks on grip & setup position & he sat back again for another 20 shots while chatting away about targets he wanted me to aim at & making sure I went through a solid pre-shot routine & follow through.

After this, he asked me what I felt at the top of my swing because it was here where it seemed to be determined whether I was going to make a good shot or not. This amazed me because, for me, the feel of the swing at the top is key to me making a good strike. If I can feel the clubhead in the right place at the top, I simply unwind and hit a good shot. If it feels wrong, I try to correct it in the downswing and mainly make a terrible strike. We worked on some feelings at take away that ensured I got into my ‘happy place’ at the top more often and hey presto my game improved. 25 handicap to 18 in less than 6 months.
All of this was done with no Trackman or equivalent machine, facts, figures or technical drills etc. He realised early on I was a ‘feel’ player that needed to understand how to put the club in the right place, so the swing felt easy.

When I’m at the range sometimes I’ll hear him giving lessons to others, and he is technically explaining about swing paths, attack angles, clubface delivery, smash factor, body turn, lag etc. and I smile because I know that he has analysed that player and that is what they need to get better.

In summary, yes, all amateurs should have lessons and finding a great coach is essential for you to get the most out of them and improve as a golfer as quickly as possible.

That’s all we’ve got time for today Golf Geeks, I hope that’s been useful. There’s plenty more on the website – for you to enjoy but for now, its Matt @ Golf Geeks HQ saying play well and we’ll see you soon.