A lesson on…taking a lesson??

Brian Hughes, PGA Professional

So you’ve been working on your golf game for a while now, playing and having fun.  But there is one small element of the game that is frustrating you, that is, your scores are not getting any better.  Lessons are a consideration, but will they help?  With the proper planning and attitude, they most certainly will.

First of all, let’s check the attitude.  Do not consider taking lessons as a defeat to your ego.  The finest players in the world take lessons on a regular basis (think there is a correlation there?).  Having another set of eyes watching is bound to help any of us.  Effective golf lessons are more than just tinkering with your swing; they also “tinker” with your mind.  How you approach the game from a mental standpoint has a great deal to do with your performance.  Strategy, club selection, knowing the strengths of your game and dealing with your weaknesses are all part of the improvement process.  Having a professional help you with these parts of your game will make improvement come much more quickly than relying on trial and error.

Before showing up for that first lesson, be prepared to discuss a few items with your instructor.  Before any first golf lesson, there will probably be a short “interview” with the golf professional.  Evaluate your game and abilities honestly before you arrive so that the instructor can best assist you with your improvement plan.  Be ready to talk about the strengths of your game (and there are some) as well as your weak points.  Define your typical ball flight (high, low, right-to-left, left-to-right, etc.); is contact the biggest issue; know how far you hit certain clubs in the air.  This information alone will help the instructor know more about your game and what particular areas of it are in need of some repair.

Something else to remember before starting out with golf lessons: Everyone will be different as to how quickly they improve.  There are peaks and valleys to your learning curve, with some improvements occurring very quickly and some improvements needing more time.  There are many facets of the game that are relatively simple that can help your game almost immediately.  Items such as ball position in your stance, posture and aim can be improved very quickly by having someone help you and by paying attention to them.  Other items, particularly swing adjustments, take a little more time.  Be patient, as positive change does not occur immediately.

Finally, when considering taking golf lessons, remember that the lessons are a partnership between you and the instructor.  You have to be a good student!  Take notes, practice, ask questions, practice some more.  If possible, use video during your lessons and practice.  Most of us learn best visually.  The game of golf is much too challenging to be learned overnight without any practice at all.  Ensure that your instructor gives you drills to work on while at home.  With many other things going on in your life, no one short of PGA TOUR players has the time to get to the course every single day to practice.  However, much of what can be improved in your golf game can be worked on at home.  What we strive to do during a lesson is improve the movement of your golf swing and build into it some repetition.  This repetition can be achieved just as easily at home, without a ball, as at the practice range.  With a consistent golf swing, achieved through proper instruction and practice, the ball simply gets in the way (we hope!).

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