I was coached by various teachers for the first fourteen years of my golfing journey. Each one helped shape my game.
Some of them added incredible value to my game, while others dismantled my ability to swing a club. This post aims to help you decide if golf lessons are worth it.
Besides highlighting the advantages and downsides of coaching, I will explain what it did for my game.
Introduction To Golf Lessons
I was luckier than most golfers because I was coached from an early age. Without thinking about it, my game progressed rapidly. It was only later that I understood the positive impact coaching had on my game.
Learning the fundamentals of golf gives you the best chance of becoming good at the sport. The best way to do this is to visit a good coach from the onset. A better understanding of posture and swing mechanics will help you strike the ball better.
Otherwise, you will spend your days aimlessly chasing a dimpled ball around acres of land with no purpose.
My first coach focused on the importance of tempo in a swing. Instead of him setting me up with a driver and letting me bomb it, we spent a lot of time working on my short game to get used to the center of the clubface striking the ball.
If I had never had that guidance from day one, I don’t think I would have gotten to a low single figure as an early teen. Coaching helped me see the importance of timing versus generating an accelerated swing speed.
Are Golf Lessons Worth It?
Yes, golf lessons are worth it if you wish to improve faster than the average player. Without the various coaches who influenced my game, I doubt I would never have become a low handicapper in my early teens.
But, rather than take my word for it, let me explain how fourteen years of coaching worked out for me.
What Golf Lessons Do For Your Game
1. Improve Etiquette
Although etiquette has little to do with improving your golf game, it will help you survive on a golf course as a beginner. The protocols set out by golf courses are in place to make sure everyone respects one another, the golf course, and the game.
If you are unfamiliar with etiquette before venturing onto the course, you may annoy fellow golfers, and ruin their rounds. A golf coach provides this information, equipping you with the necessary knowledge for success at the Country Club.
2. Identify Weaknesses
Trained teaching golf professionals need to identify weaknesses in your setup, swing, and ball flight.
The first port of call for coaches is your grip. As Golfweek explains, the incorrect grip makes it difficult to control the club through the swing.
Unfortunately, this was a stumbling block for me because every coach I went to tried to change my baseball grip for an interlock setup. That has always been an uncomfortable feeling for me and I would immediately revert to the baseball grip.
Now, full disclaimer, I believe the interlocking grip gives the average golfer better control over the club. However, I have used the baseball grip since I was four, and it is what I feel most comfortable with.
In my final year of high school, my school qualified for the World School Golf Challenge in New Zealand. The teacher in charge of golf suggested that the team visit one of the local PGA professionals for lessons in the build-up.
The first thing he did was change my grip, and with two months to go to a Major event, it wreaked havoc with my game. I got to the point that I had zero confidence in my ability, even though I was a 4-handicapper, I felt like a beginner. Needless to say, that relationship did not last long.
Great golf coaches will work around that to find solutions, as many of my coaches did. But not everyone agreed, which is why I had multiple instructors during my youth.
Despite the complexities of a golf swing, many players get their shots wrong because of the incorrect ball position at address. A golf coach helps you understand when to position the ball in the center, forward, or back of your stance.
Thanks to the first coach I ever had, I quickly understood how to set up for a tee shot versus a fairway wood or a long iron and a wedge. These instructions have helped me strike the ball consistently throughout my amateur golf career.
Another factor that coaching helped me understand was keeping your club on plane. Your downswing is where this is vital, but if you can start your backswing on plane, it is easier to get it back to that position before impact.
My years of experience have taught me to feel when I take my club away on the incorrect line. That means I can stop at that point and reset instead of continuing and striking a wayward shot.
My experience with golf coaches also taught me how to keep your club on plane and when to know if it veers off target. It is beneficial to understand swing faults to address and correct them immediately.
If I slice or hook a shot, it doesn’t take long to identify the error and fix it for my next attempt.
Clubface At Impact
The angle of your clubface at impact determines the shape of your shot. If you can’t get the clubface square at impact you generate side spin. That can cause you to hook or slice your ball.
All the above features are determining factors in the position that the face ends up at contact. My coach taught me what steps to follow to get it square at impact. Plus, he explained what angle produces which shape.
For example, when your clubface remains open through impact, you typically generate left to right sidespin, resulting in a fade or slice shape.
Working with an instructor helps you easily identify when you leave your clubface open or closed at impact. And, if you follow the above tips, you should be able to correct that.
My first coach made me spend more time practicing chips and putts than anything else. Besides improving my skills around the green, it helped nail down the art of ball striking. I used to chip hundreds of balls every session, just trying to get the middle of the clubface to strike the ball.
As my ball striking improved, I began focusing on distance control. That led to more up and downs and fewer double bogeys. Plus, I learned how to read greens and judge the weight of a putt, thanks to my first golf coach. Even today, my chipping and putting is the best part of my golf game.
3. Correct Flaws
Once your golf instructor has determined your swing flaws, the next step is to correct them. If you watch YouTube videos, you should also know where you are going wrong. However, the videos do not provide the corrective action that a lesson with a private coach will.
Within a few minutes of visiting a qualified golf coach, you can be on your way to fixing the kinks in your game.
4. Learn Practice Drills
Once a coach has identified the weak areas of your swing, the next step is to assign practice drills to improve your ability. These drills help improve your skill level and increase your consistency on a golf course.
Without the guidance of golf professionals, it is challenging to know whether you are executing the drill correctly. You can spend hours practicing something. But if you are not doing it right, it is a waste of time.
Some coaches may encourage you to purchase training aids to enhance your practice experience. However, there are plenty of drills you can do, without acquiring additional accessories.
5. Match You with The Right Equipment
Besides the tips and guidance provided by golf coaches, they also determine whether you are using the correct equipment. If you never get coached, you may never know that your clubs are not suited to your game.
6. Gain Consistency
When you combine the above elements, it produces consistency in your golf game. That helps you improve your scores and leads to fewer bogey putts and more birdies.
Why Some People Are Hesitant About Taking Golf Lessons
The cost of golf lessons is what puts many average golfers off. Attending a few lessons may cut into your green fees budget, and it is understandable why you would forego coaching. However, golf is an expensive game, and if you invest in a set of golf clubs, you want to know how to use them as best as possible.
However, the money you spend on coaching will save you countless rounds of frustration. It prevents you from consistently making the same mistake.
2. Changes Can Be Uncomfortable
This downside applies to golfers who have played the game for some time and are comfortable with their current setup.
A golf coach will change your setup, grip, and swing to help you maximize your performance. However, these changes can make you feel uncomfortable during your swing and make you relearn how to hit a golf ball.
The reality is that the changes do positively affect your game. But, they take time to get used to and can result in several poor gross scores before you get the hang of it.
3. Time Consuming
The final reason why many golfers never get coaching is that it is time-consuming. You need to set aside an hour or two a week for lessons, which is a big ask for busy individuals.
Even as a school kid, I found it challenging to fit in two lessons a week, on top of league matches, practice rounds, and my education.
One positive of the pandemic is that golf coaches have taken their lessons online, allowing you to practice remotely at any time.