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 your hesitation has been influenced by others who have had a bad lesson experience elsewhere.
Not everyone is comfortable with the lesson idea, and those who haven’t are unaware of what taking lessons entails. Whether you are a beginner or high handicap player, or an experienced player looking for improvement, professional instruction and training is a must to achieve your potential. If you’ve ever been scared off from taking lessons because you don’t know what to expect, here is an example of my instructional process, based on almost 40 years of teaching experience.
Each instructor has his or her 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.
Experienced players generally want general error correction instruction. I will suggest to them a 6lesson series over several weeks. For those who desire a more complete game makeover, 12 lesson series with a more customized curriculum over the course of a few months is recommended. 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, the equipment used, and the learning process. I suggest the 12 lesson series format to jump start the learning process. It will include a tour 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 moving then to tee shots for full swing training.