Choosing the right golf instructor is without question the most important decision you must make before committing long-term to getting golf lessons.
I went through three separate golf instructors before landing on one I felt comfortable with, could communicate effectively with, and started seeing fast results from.
And because I found a pro who suited me, I saw my handicap drop from 20.1 to 14.1 in less than six months – that’s six whole strokes, gone!
So, how did I choose the right golf instructor, you ask?
The seven key things I recommend you look for in a golf instructor are:
- They use latest swing analysis technology
- You enjoy and respond well their teaching style
- You like their personality
- They are within your budget
- Their goals align with yours
- They get fast results
- They come recommended by other golfers
At the end of the day, every golf pro is different and you should feel at ease with the one you choose – after all, it’s likely you’ll be spending a decent amount of money with him or her.
Some instructors will be very hands-on, grabbing your club and manually moving your body into the correct positions in the backswing or follow-through. Others will sit back and watch you hit 20 balls before offering any feedback.
Some will use old-school philosophies and ‘feel’ to guide them, while others will rely on Trackman or FlightScope data, video and statistical information to inform them on how to fix your swing.
Then there are some pros who spend 85 per cent of your lesson talking, without letting you hit barely any balls at all, or who will try to fix your swing by getting you to fork out $1000 on a whole new set of shafts or clubs (key tip: if you come across one of these instructors, don’t ever go back – they only want your money).
Below I expand on each of the above dot points in more detail to help you find the right golf instructor who can slash strokes off your handicap in no time.
Table of contents
Does your golf instructor use latest swing analysis technology?
If you arrive at your lesson and don’t see your instructor using Trackman or FlightScope to analyse your swing, or at least some kind of video app, that’s an immediate red flag.
There is so much technology available for PGA professionals to use today that can help them diagnose your swing faults far more efficiently and quickly, which will get results faster.
Pros who don’t utilise this technology are akin to a commercial airline pilot trying to navigate their way across the Atlantic Ocean in a 747 without using a radar.
You wouldn’t trust them to do it, would you? Then why would you trust a pro who is ‘flying blind’ without using every piece of latest technology at their disposal?
Find a pro who uses Trackman or FlightScope to record and analyse your swing during your lesson – this is an absolute must.
Does your golf instructor’s teaching style suit you?
As humans, we’re all different.
You might like coffee, I might hate it. You might hate vegetables, I might love them. You might like Bryson DeChambeau, I might not (for the record, I think he’s entertainment plus).
At the end of the day, we all have our personal preferences and you should find a pro that aligns with yours.
For example, I like the fact my golf instructor isn’t afraid to grab my golf club, and manually force me into the correct backswing position.
It allows me to feel exactly where the club should be – rather than him telling me where it should be, then leaving me to guess or assume I’m doing it correctly.
On the flip side, you may be someone who responds better to verbal instructions, rather than a hands-on approach.
Find an instructor whose methods you feel comfortable with, and you’ll see rapid improvements in your swing.
Do you like your golf instructor’s personality?
This may seem superficial, but hear me out.
If I’m paying $100 an hour for a golf lesson, the last thing I want is a golf instructor who spends 30 of those precious minutes cracking jokes that I don’t find funny.
My pro is the perfect fit for me because he says very little during our lessons, focuses on the job at hand and only gives feedback when it’s needed.
He realises I’m only there to improve my golf game; not learn a few new jokes that I can tell my friends later over a beer.
He’s friendly, courteous, punctual and gets straight down to business as soon as we’re on the clock. That’s the kind of pro I like.
On the other hand, you may feel more relaxed with an instructor who loves cracking jokes and is a barrel of laughs from the first swing until the last.
Find an instructor whose personality you can tolerate – after all, you’ll be spending some significant amount of time together if you’re someone who wishes to get down to single figures and beyond.
Is your golf instructor affordable?
One of the biggest barriers to people getting golf lessons is the cost. It was something that definitely put me off getting lessons for a long time.
I would ask myself: why should I spend $60 for a 30-minute lesson when I’m not seeing results?
It wasn’t until I started with my current golf instructor that I truly started seeing the value of paying for professional tuition (PS: don’t waste your money on someone without PGA accreditation).
At the end of the day, you need to find an instructor that is affordable for you.
My teacher offers a block of five lessons at a slightly discounted rate (5 x lessons for $270 when they would cost a total of $300 collectively), so I decided this was the best way for me to go.
I didn’t seek out a teacher that charges $200 an hour because that would simply not be financially viable for me.
We all know golf lessons aren’t cheap – but, set yourself a budget before you start looking for the right golf instructor.
It will help refine your search greatly.
Do your golf instructor’s goals align with yours?
Before you book your first golf lesson with your new instructor, you have to ask yourself: what do you want to achieve?
- Are you someone who regularly shoots over 100 and wants to get into the 90s for the first time?
- Are you wanting to break 80 after years of not being able to?
- Are you someone who has never played golf before, and simply wants to learn how to get the ball in the air?
- Or are you a single-figure golfer who wants to become a scratch golfer?
Every player will have different goals depending on their existing skill level, and you need to decide on your own goals before arriving at your golf lesson – and then communicate them to your instructor straight away.
Don’t be afraid to lay it all on the table before even hitting your first ball.
If you want to become a single-figure golfer, but your instructor says ‘you’ll never be good enough to get there’, then it’s clear their goals do not align with yours – and you should find another instructor immediately.
But you don’t want false promises, either.
If you’re playing off a handicap of 30 and your instructor promises to get you to single figures in three weeks, then you know they’re not being truthful and up-front.
Find an instructor who can help you achieve your goals, in a realistic timeframe – and have them explain exactly how they intend to get you to your destination.
Hearing their plan is a great way to tell if they are being authentic, or not.
Does your golf instructor get fast results?
While it’s unrealistic to think you’ll shave 20 strokes off your handicap in a fortnight, at the same time you want to start seeing reward for your hard work (and money) quickly.
If after half a dozen lessons with your instructor you’re hitting the ball worse than ever, despite practicing hard what they’ve told you to, it might be time to change pro – and you shouldn’t be afraid to do so.
I tried three different instructors before landing on one who I was able to connect with, and as a result the improvement came rapidly.
Seeing that improvement will help motivate you and encourage you to put more time into practicing what you’ve learnt, knowing you’ll get good results if you do, and you’ll take significant strides towards reaching your goals because of it.
It’ll have you fist-pumping like Tiger Woods in no time.
Does your golf instructor come recommended by other golfers?
One of the best ways to find a good golf instructor is this: word of mouth.
Don’t be afraid to ask other golfers at your club what they think of the local pro – what are they like? Do they use the latest swing technology? Do they get fast results? Are they worth the money?
Getting this feedback from players who have already taken lessons with the pro you’re considering seeing is invaluable.
For example, if someone has been taking lessons with an instructor for 12 months but their handicap hasn’t budged during that time, I’d immediately treat that as a red flag.
Before I booked my first lesson with my current pro, I asked some of the other players at my club if he was any good, and whether they had seen results from taking lessons with him.
A friend told me he’d been getting lessons from said instructor for around 12 months and had dropped his handicap from 30 to 9!
I was impressed, and it was the positive reinforcement I needed to feel confident booking in a lesson.
Don’t be afraid to ask around – most golfers will be open and honest with you about their experiences.
The biggest take-home message I can give you is: if you’re not seeing results with your pro after spending a decent amount of time with them, don’t be afraid to find another one.
Yes, golf is a hard game to learn and implementing swing changes can be a gradual process.
But at the end of the day, you are paying money to improve – and if you’re not seeing that improvement despite putting in the hard work, keep looking elsewhere until you find someone who can help you reach your goals faster.
You’ll start enjoying your golf more than you’ve ever thought possible.