What to look for in a golf instructor, teacher or coach

What to look for in a golf instructor

You've decided to get golf lessons. You either just want to get started playing golf, or you're looking for a golf instructor who can coach you up to the next level -- to maybe break 100, 90, 80 or achieve some other goal. The problem is that you don't have a current golf teacher, and you're wonder what to look for in a golf instructor.

Finding the right golf instructor is a process. You're hiring someone, after all, to take care of your golf game -- whatever semblance of one you have. You have to interview potential golf instructors, getting a feel for their philosophy on the game, their teaching techniques, how they use modern technology and more.

We're here to help you figure out how to pick the golf instructor that's right for you, going over the important factors to consider before picking one.

How to find the right golf instructor, coach or teacher

Compatibility: The student-teacher relationship is a personal one. You've got to get along with your potential golf instructor. I don't mean that in a sleazy-personal-trainer-at-the-gym way but rather that you need to understand what the golf coach is trying to tell you. If you're not getting it, and they're not able to change how they communicate their points, then it's not going to work. Their personality needs to work with yours and jibe with how you work. If you want someone who will take your hand the whole way, find that person. If you want someone who will push you a little bit, find them.

Teaching Philosophy: This is almost as important, if not more important, than compatibility. Some golf teachers have a particular way they believe the game should be played and the swing should be executed. Many golf teachers these days are adaptive, looking to work with the good fundamentals golfers already have while helping them ditch the bad ones. You need to decide if you're looking to do a total teardown of your swing or if you want to just fix certain components of your swing. A golf instructor can help you both ways, but it depends on your preferences and if you've got the compatibility (and trust!) to go down that path with someone.

Communication Methods: Everyone is very busy, so, while you have to make a personal commitment to improve with a golf instructor, you also need a golf coach who can communicate with you in a way that works for your lifestyle. Do you prefer emails? Texts? Do you want to watch swing videos on your phone or on your computer? You should expect to get video feedback from a coach now. How you consume it, however, is up to you and the instructor.

Use of Technology: Modern golf instructors have a lot of technology at their fingertips. There's video, of course. There are things like K-Vest and golf club sensors that can render your swing and body motion in 3-D in real time. There are launch monitors. All of this technology can provide data that can help show you where your game is lagging and the progress you're making. However, it's important to not become entirely beholden to numbers. Technology should be used in conjunction with a good golf instructor's eye and intuition to help your swing. The numbers shouldn't tell a golf teacher what flaws to look for in your game.

Location: Ultimately, how far is too far to drive or travel to get to your golf instructor? 30 minutes? Not sure. It might help if they're near your office instead of your house. That may mean your golf instructor is at an indoor facility instead of a driving range. That may be cool for you, but you might also want to see each shot's ball flight in front of you instead of on a launch monitor.

PGA of America or LPGA Membership: There are a lot of great golf minds out there. Most of them are accredited by the PGA of America and/or the LPGA. That's a good rule of thumb when picking a golf instructor. These folks go through years of training to get the accreditation they have, and they're required to go through continuing education to keep it. That doesn't mean there aren't folks who just go through the motions, but this is a good sign.

Price: What's reasonable for your budget? Golf instruction costs money. Golf instructor from big-name teachers costs big money. But a big name doesn't necessarily mean a better understanding of the game or how to teach you specifically.

Ultimately, we would recommend finalizing down to two or three potential golf instructors. Get some additional feedback from friends or others who have worked with them. Maybe get a reference or two if you're that serious about it. Ask to watch them give a lesson or have a short one with them for free to get a feel for their style. If it all clicks, and you feel comfortable, then go for it.

Of course, you can always walk away from that instructor if things aren't working. However, it's important to remember that changing your golf game is a two-way street that takes time to click. You need to put in the honest effort to work on what an instructor is teaching and give it the time that it needs to click first on the range, then on the course. Golf is not typically a game of instant fixes, so keep that in mind when selecting a golf instructor.

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