As golfers, we may think that we understand the swing. There may even be times when we feel that we are swinging correctly. However, because that little white ball seems to have such a short attention span and because we can’t readily see ourselves swing, we occasionally require a professional observer to check us out, to note any mistakes and, to put us back on the right track.
Also, while an instructional book and/or video can impart considerable golfing knowledge, neither of these means of communication can tailor specific fundamentals to the fine degree needed for you to become the best golfer you can be. To approach that level of skill, you’ll need personal attention from a teacher who can deal with your own personal physical and mental quirks.
1. Arrive on time. Better yet, be early. Arrive early enough to warm up, relax and clear your head. Golf is recreation, and a golf lesson should be fun. Take the time to swing the club for 10 or 15 minutes, to loosen up and calm down.
2. Don’t tell the instructor what’s wrong with your swing. A good instructor will understand what’s going on with your swing after you’ve hit three balls. More useful for the instructor at the beginning of the lesson would be a brief description of your typical game.
3. Be a good listener. Good teachers will take-in everything you’ve said and develop a plan for helping you. But you have to hear the message, understand the solution and understand why it will work.
4. Remain open to new ideas. The teacher might change your grip, and yes, it won’t feel normal. But, I tell my students the reasons why a new grip might help. And, I ask them to trust me for three or five swings. Give it a try with an open mind.
5. Maintain an honest relationship with your teacher. How much time do you have to practice? If the answer is never, the instructor may give you some drills you can do in front of a mirror at home or during a break at work.
6. Do your homework before selecting a teacher. Find out a little about your instructor and his teaching methods and consider whether it would be a good fit for you. You do need a rapport with your teacher.
“What To Look For In A Teacher” by Jack Nicklaus * In his book Golf My Way – Nicklaus wrote: “When praised as an instructor, Jack Grout, among the most modest of men, would often respond that he was just lucky to be in the right place at the right time to have a student like Jack Nicklaus come along. Well, Jack Nicklaus was equally lucky to be in the right place at the right time to have a coach – and friend, and, ultimately, “second father” – like Jack Grout.
A lot of pros can teach golf’s fundamentals effectively, because the reality is that there aren’t that many of them, and they haven’t changed all that much in the last hundred or so years.
What has always stood out to me most about Jack (Grout), far beyond his teaching and tuning in the mechanics of the game, was the degree of interest he took in me as a person. This came through in the immense amount of time and energy he devoted so gladly to me over so many years, along with his understanding and tolerance of my bouts of impatience and frustration.
Most of all, it came through in his unrelenting and upbeat encouragement. Over the years, there were times when Jack Grout believed in me more than I believed in myself.
A coach can bestow no greater gift.”
7. Finally, set reachable goals, because one lesson isn’t meant to overhaul your game.
People sometimes expect miracles. Successful teaching is done in small pieces that add up a lot.
Remember: A good golf lesson is worth 1,000 range balls. With a little forethought, you might make it worth even more.
For more stories about Jack Grout check out Dick’s Book, Jack Grout: A Legacy in Golf