Choosing a Coach
By Terry Koehler, The Wedge Guy
Terry Koehler has been in the golf industry for over 30 years and currently spends his days as the President of EIDOLON Golf, a small premium wedge company in Victoria, Texas. He's been blogging for over 3 years and has written hundreds of articles ranging from golf tips to equipment issues. His blog will appear on ClubSG twice per week. You can reach Terry to have your golf questions answered at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I'm a big fan of having a coach/teacher on your "team" if you are really serious about playing better golf. There is a lot to be learned about the golf swing, the short game, putting and the mental side from books and videos, but there is no substitute for a trained pair of eyes and a teacher who can help you in real time. This subject is prompted today by a question from Dan F., who is contemplating making the leap to professional instruction. Dan's inquiry:
"I have decided that it is time to get serious and get some lessons. If I am going to invest the kind of money an instructor/coach costs, I want to make sure I get what I pay for and that he/she and I can work well together. How do I find a good instructor, what questions should I ask before starting with an instructor, and what things should I make sure I include in my lessons?"Dan, that's a big leap forward to forever improving your golf game. I am continually amazed at how many golfers spend thousands on equipment and play all the time, but make no investment at all in learning more about the technique when a stable full of golf professionals is available to them. It’s agonizing to me to see those at my own club who toil in the 90s and 100s, but will not engage our staff to help them improve. And I certainly don’t understand it.
The key to choosing a coach/teacher, Dan, is to find someone who connects with you in a communication sense, and who fully understands your own personal goals and desires from the relationship. Very few golfers want to make the commitment to completely overhaul their golf swing, nor do many of us aspire to be “tour quality”. What most are looking for is a gradual improvement of technique that minimizes the “uglies” that cost multiple strokes, and to just hit the ball a little more solidly, consistently. And I’d suggest that most recreational golfers could benefit greatly by building a more solid short game technique, improving their putting and learning more about course management. A good golf professional can help you with all three.
If you are making this plunge, the starting point is to write down your own personal objectives, so that you can discuss them with your coach/teacher prospect. Be honest with the commitment you are willing to make in practice time, financial investment and your willingness to change your approach to the swing and the game. The most frustrating thing for a golf professional is a student who won’t listen and/or who is resistant to change. You won’t get the results you are after if you won’t take the coach’s advice and work to ingrain the new learning.
On that note, finding the right coach/teacher is a process. I suggest you begin by engaging your own home golf professional into a conversation about your goals, and see if there is a “click” there. If not, ask around your area to see what local golf professionals get mentioned as being good. Interview them, as you are about to make an investment of time and money into the process. Ask them about their fee structure, and get their opinion as to what commitment you need to make to achieve your stated objectives. Ask them for referrals of students they’ve worked with in the past. Do your homework.
Understand that learning better golf is not a quick fix. These men and women are not miracle workers. They cannot transform your game overnight. New swing moves are learned only through repetition and practice. Also accept that once you enter the learning process, you will often find yourself stuck between old and new. If your regular outing is a gambling game with your buddies, it will be even harder to trust the new when your bucks are on the line. Think about all that before you embark on this journey.
And finally, realize that if the first lesson with a pro doesn’t go so well, you have to decide if it’s them or you. And be honest in that assessment. And share it with the pro. If there is no connection in communication style or personality, it is probably a waste of time for both of you. Sometimes you have to try out a few before you find the right one. But when you do, you are well on the way to the best golf of your life.
Your take, readers?
* The Wedge Guy's views and opinions are his own do not necessarily reflect those of SkyGolf.
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I think the Wedge Guy hit it on the head with these remarks. When you are serious about seeking professional help (haha), you have to know what your goals are and what you are expecting. You also need to be able to articulate them to the instructor. If your goal is to factor in elite amateur tournaments, you have to communicate this to your prospective pro. They need to know what you expect. If you do have lofty goals like the one mentioned above, and the pro doesn't seem to take you very seriously, move on. He or she is not the pro for you.
I've had 3 coaches in less than a year. Still see the last two at the same time b/c of our locales. I think I was being taught the wrong thing by one coach in the beginning but I didn't know enough at the time to know better. It just took me awhile to figure out they weren't gonna work. That last two I use now seem to have diff. teaching stlyes, diff. tools, diff. analogies. Both are good but I think it'll benefit me to have both sets of eyes watch me and provide the different input. Another good tool is something like the Kodak Play Sport. You really don't know what your are practicing without your coach without this digital eye. U may THINK you are practicing what they told you but most likely you aren't. So watch out for that too. You'll waste a lot of money on lessons b/c you just keep showing up doing the same wrong things.
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