Taking a Lesson – A Primer

What to Expect When You Sign Up for Dan Hansen Golf Lessons…

Many of you out there have been curious about, or even had an interest in taking lessons. But you have also had some trepidation because you don’t know what to expect. Maybe you have been influenced by others who have had a bad lesson experience. Not everyone is comfortable with the lesson idea, especially those beginners and other golfers who aren’t quite sure what taking lessons entails. If you’ve ever been scared off from taking lessons because you don’t know what to expect, here is an example of the my instructional process, based on almost 40 years of teaching experience.

My Teaching & Coaching Philosophy

Instruction should be tailored to an individual’s needs rather than try to force a golfer to learn a rigid swing theory. A good teacher possesses the ability to fix whatever swing – pretty or ugly, text book or unusual – a golfer has developed and make it work.

We fix or refine the player’s swing based on their own style of play – not rebuild! There is a balance for, a plus or minus to, any swing fault.

In essence, the sole purpose of a golf swing is to produce solid contact and a shot shape/ball flight you can count on. The method employed is not significant, as long as it is repetitive. I don’t believe you have to totally change your swing to play better.

Your ball flight and impact condition (what the ground looks like where your ball used to be resting) tell me what to do to help you achieve your goals. Look at what the ball is doing… and then ask why.

Forget the “pretty looking swing” notion and let’s work with your swing’s own DNA. No two people are going to swing the club exactly alike. Each of us has our own physical limitations, strength, and flexibility. We have our own tempos, rhythms, and balance. We don’t stand or aim the same, or have identical swing planes and paths.

A lot of golfers want to change their swings because there are certain shots or clubs they struggle with. When they try to change, they often get worse, because they try to learn a swing that doesn’t fit their style, athletic ability, or learning process. Instead of trying to master the swing they have, their obsession with adopting another swing leads to frustration and failure.

I say, why change?

The Anatomy of a Golf Lesson

Each instructor has his own format for a lesson. While there may be some variation from coach to coach, I will generally follow these steps, with plenty of flexibility built in.

Introduction & interview: Knowing students are sometimes intimidated by the lesson process itself or even by PGA pros, I will begin by immediately setting the student at ease and develop a rapport. This leads to an immediate relaxed atmosphere and more effective communication between me and my student.

Background information discussion will include hometown; occupation; age; golf experience; previous golf and sports history; previous lesson history; previous injury history or current physical limitations.

Specific golf information discussion will include past & current skill level; your equipment; your assessment of your game strengths & weaknesses; ball flight and contact characteristics; club distances; practice and playing routines; playing & lesson motivation.

Set objectives: At this point, I help the student formulate a stated goal by asking them to answer the following questions: “Over the next hour, what specifically would you like to accomplish…and what are your intermediate and long terms goals?” Are you willing and able to follow a prescribed practice plan to achieve these goals? At this stage of a golf lesson I know who I am dealing with and I can help the student set a realistic solution to their specific problem.

Golf technique analysis: The experience and skill level will possibly guide me in different starting directions here, but  I next analyze the student’s intuitive technique, observing them hit short and long shots with various clubs so that I can see them perform the swing or stroke. If there is a specific need (club or shot) we will target that, of course. I will typically video the student so that we can more clearly see movements and detect swing flaws. Video is used only as I see fit in future lessons.

Fixes & training: Simplified explanation of concepts, error correction and training plan wrap-up the last portion of the session. In this phase, I explain what the student needs to be trained to do to accomplish their desired correction. I will have them make guided practice swings to feel the change, introduce drills, then we transition into actual ball striking -from small swings to full swings.

Lesson summary: At the end of the session, we will summarize the information as we study the video. I will either email or provide them a take-home CD video analysis of the session. I then will ask the student to send me an email summary of the lesson as they interpreted it as soon as possible. I will the reply to the email, filling in the blanks of their summary by making any additional reminders, corrections and added comment necessary. This guides me to their learning patterns, while they better retain information when it is put in their own words.

More advanced, experienced golfers generally want error correction and this can usually be accomplished in a 5 lesson series over several weeks. For those who desire a more complete game makeover, I suggest with a ten lesson series with a more customized curriculum over the course of a few months. I develop a practice plan and communicate with the student on a regular basis to monitor progress.

For beginning golfers, I will explain the game and the equipment and the learning process. I suggest the 10 lesson series format to jump start the learning process. It will include a touring of the golf course to learn about what will be expected of you as you learn to play the game – basic rules & etiquette. The early training emphasis will the the smaller swings and shorter distance shots (putting, chipping and pitching) and move to tee shots for full swing training.

For more training tips, visit my ongoing website Golf Tips BLOG page.