Get the Most out of Your Next Lesson
This is the time of year when people often take golf lessons, or at least they should. An awful lot of things get out of whack over the holidays. For starters, you’re probably gripping your club like a snow shovel.
Just as you would take your car for a tune-up, now is a good time to take your golf game to a PGA Professional. But does the average golfer know how to take a golf lesson? Do you get the most out of your time with an instructor?
Here are some tips to taking a successful lesson:
- Be on time. Better yet, be early. This may sound overly simple, but if you don’t arrive early enough to warm up, relax and clear your head, you probably won’t learn as much.
- People show up tight, stressed and in a hurry, Golf is recreation, and a golf lesson should be fun. Take the time to swing the club for 10 or 15 minutes to loosen up and calm down.
- Warming up also allows you to start swinging as you normally do, launching balls left and right or dribbling along the ground. Hey, that’s why you’re taking a lesson!
- Don’t tell the instructor what’s wrong with your swing. Golfers show up and say, “I need a quicker transition." Or, my left arm is stuck inside. These are all things analysts say during televised golf broadcasts, and unless you frequently play on TV, they probably are not talking about you. A good instructor will understand what’s going on with your swing after you’ve hit three balls. There is other info that might be more useful for the instructor at the beginning of the lesson. Which leads to...
- Do tell the pro what’s been going wrong. There is a big difference between telling the instructor what’s wrong with your swing and what has been happening to your golf ball. It is helpful to hear that most shots have been going right to left or just too far right.
- You should arm the instructor with a little description of your typical game. Describe what’s wrong like you would to a doctor.
- Listen. People are used to talking, but they often aren’t very good listeners. A good teacher will take in everything you’ve said and tailor a plan for helping you. But you have to hear the message, understand the solution and understand why it will work.
- If you don’t understand what the instructor says, don’t be afraid to ask questions. They have various ways of explaining the same thing.
- Be open to new ideas. Students shouldn’t get defensive. The teacher might change a grip, and it may not feel normal. But I tell my students the reasons why a new grip might help. I ask them to trust me for three or five swings, and give it a try with an open mind.
- Be honest with your teacher. How much time do you have to practice? If the answer is never, the instructor may give you some drills you can do in front of a mirror at home, or during a break at work. And if you are a terrible putter, say so. Don’t say you’re okay because you think you can fix it yourself. If you haven’t fixed it by now, you probably need the help.
- If you've had a serious illness, you would do research on who to see, but people will take a golf lesson from anybody who says he or she is a pro. Research your instructor and their teaching methods. Consider whether it would be a good fit for you. You could consult with the teacher before the lesson.
- Sometimes the first lesson is similar to making a new friend or business partner. You need a connection with your teacher - the teacher needs to make the student comfortable - and the teacher needs to adjust to the student. It’s certainly not the other way around. Students should be prepared for the kind of teacher they're getting.
- Finally, set reachable goals. One lesson isn’t meant to overhaul your game. People sometimes expect miracles. We usually have to teach in small pieces that add up to a lot. For example, lots of people want to hit the ball further and a lot of them slice their shots. We can usually fix a slice, and if I get you drawing the ball into the center of the fairway, it will go further. One thing at a time.
- The first thing you should do is realize that this game is much easier when played from the short grass. Even Lee Trevino, whom some consider self-taught, once told me, “A good golf lesson is worth 1,000 range balls." With a little forethought, you might make it worth even more.
I hope this will help you have more fun and improve your game!
Charles Lostracco is the Director of Golf at The Lely Resort Golf & Country Club