· Trust and personable – just as you would select a medical doctor with whom you feel comfortable, you want the same experience with your golf instructor. Ask for references from other golfers or from people where you play. The golf professional should be compatible with you as far as mutual goals, swing philosophy and personality.
· Communication skills – make sure your golf professional explains terms or the swing concepts without being too technical (just as you don’t want a doctor to use detailed medical terms). You need to understand the concepts and ideas from the golf professional without him or her being more technical than you are comfortable. If you don’t understand a concept or comment, but sure to stop and ask for further explanation.
· Credentials – seek golf instruction from PGA or LPGA Professionals. Both associations offer extensive training and education for their Professionals – not only to obtain certification but also to maintain their credentials. You may wish to learn from a well-established Professional rather than a newer Professional – keep in mind the price for the lesson will vary according to the instructor’s credentials as well. A newer instructor will have lower hourly rate for a lesson than an established instructor.
· Teaching Aids – many Professionals use teaching aids or swing aids to help you feel the difference in your swing or the concept your instructor is trying to explain. They are designed to provide feedback to you, to help you improve. Many professionals have a staff bag full of fun teaching aids – a good professional will explain swing concepts to you by sharing various swing aids.
· Technology – in the past, golf lessons were even more expensive if your lesson included video. Now with the advancement of technology in the golf instruction space, you not only should have a video of your swing, but it will likely include feedback on your ball flight. Ask your professional if your lesson includes ball flight monitoring and if so, how you might access the video, etc. after your lesson.
· Enthusiastic – your golf professional should be enthusiastic and make the lesson fun and educational for you. You should see his/her passion for the game of golf and his/her desire to help you get better. Avoid a golf professional who treats you like a number and is eager to get to his/her next lesson.
· Variety of learning opportunities – ask your golf professional if he or she offers other types of instruction in addition to individual lessons - such as group lessons, clinics, playing lessons or playing in Pro-Am events. Many will offer a special rate if you take a series of lessons (three, five or more lessons). Group instruction, while not as personal as one-on-one instruction, offers you a chance to bring a friend and learn in a group setting, which should be less expensive than an individual lesson. Some professionals offer instructional clinics that focus on certain parts of the game – short game, putting, bunker play, etc. When you are ready to take what you learned on the practice tee to the course, ask about a playing lesson. You will pick up all kinds of tips and course management ideas that help you while playing. Finally, when you are ready, many professionals are invited to Pro-Am events and look for players to compete on their teams. This is a great way to show what you have learned while having fun at the same time.
Next week we’ll talk about what to expect when taking a golf lesson and how to get the most out of your instruction time with your golf professional.