Recently I was asked, "What should I look for when searching for a good golf instructor?" Fortunately, I wasn't asked in person, or I'd be "bent! (That would be like going to a restaurant and asking, "Are there any good restaurants you can recommend?")" But it's a valid question that I get asked via email, Twitter, Facebook, etc... a lot! I mean, what DO YOU look for?
Sooooooo... I gave it some thought and came up with a short list or "guidelines" that may help YOU choose an instructor that's right for YOU:
- While I'm sure there are many good non-LPGA and non-PGA instructors out there, I'd start my search with professionals that are either members or apprentices of the LPGA and PGA. To become a full member, one not only has to have an understanding of golf instruction, but must also be able to demonstrate effective instruction techniques AND required to attend ongoing educational seminars to keep their membership. Visit the PGA or LPGA websites to locate an instructor near you.
- You should try to find someone fairly close to where you live. It's kind of like a health club, if it's too far from home or work, you're more likely to find reasons of why NOT to exercise. Having said that, don't compromise quality instruction over location.
- Reputation. If you were hiring someone for your business, you'd look for someone with an excellent reputation and proficient skills in the field you're hiring for. Same with golf instructors. Look for someone who is a good "junior" teacher or "adult" teacher, or someone who works well with beginners, or advance players. In other words, find someone who has a reputation for teaching someone like you! Ask around. And don't be afraid to "interview" the instructor you're considering.
- Personality. There are lots of "knowledgeable" instructors committed to their students... and not ripping on anyone... but there are also some who teach JUST for the purpose of making some quick cash. You want someone who WANTS to work with you and treats you with the same respect (regardless of your skill level) as they would working with a TOUR player. Someone who's committed to seeing you improve and enjoy the game. You're going to be spending time with this person... perhaps quite a bit of time... so you want it to be an enjoyable experience.
- Price does not always equate with quality. Look for knowledgeable yet affordable. Paying a lower price for a bad lesson doesn't justify paying the lower price (This lesson was horrible, but hey, at least I didn't pay that much). And neither does taking out a 2nd mortgage to pay for your lessons mean you're going to get an instructor that will get you playing on TOUR next week! Reputation (#3 on this list) trumps price.
- Find an instructor that compliments your learning and communication style. If you don't need to know launch angles, ball speeds, centripetal versus centrifugal forces as they pertain to your swing, what Lower Body Power Package Accumulators means, etc... then an instructor who bombards you with too much details might not be the one for you. However... If you neeeeed to know the nitty gritty info... then search for one who wears a white lab coat and can help you with the diagnosis. In reality, all instructors need to be knowledgeable... It's how they communicate this info to you that makes them right for you.
Even with these guidelines, you'll probably still have to take a lesson or two from an instructor to see if he or she is right for you. BUT... don't be a "tire-kicker" either! One who jumps around from instructor to instructor as soon as the game goes bad. If YOU TRULY believe in the instructor you're working with and what she's teaching you, stay with her! When it comes to learning golf, I find it's not a continuous upward climb. There are dips along the learning path, and oftentimes it's in the dips that you learn the most... EVEN when it seems that no progress is being made.
By the way... if you're ever in the Central Florida area... I know this great instructor by the name of Ted Eleftheriou that would feel privileged if he had the opportunity of working with YOU on your golf game... I'm just saying. You can email him at: CreateGolfers[at]gmail.com.
Peace... Love... Golf!