An Introduction to Find the Best Swing Coach for Your Swing
In an earlier post, I discussed the main reason why most golfers don’t get better: a lack of commitment to one method/swing philosophy/coach. In this post, I will share some of the guidelines I encourage every golfer to use to find a swing coach or method that is perfect for you and your golf swing.
Before we get started, it’s important to note that this post extends beyond the one-on-one pupil/teacher relationship. These guidelines can apply to YouTube subscriptions, online video subscriptions, and group clinics.
Don’t Be Afraid to Try Several Different Coaches/Programs to Start
There are so many different schools of thought when it comes to the golf swing, and nobody is right or wrong. Human beings have different ways of viewing the art of hitting a golf ball. The important part of any student-teacher relationship is how the instructor’s teaching and golf swing philosophy matches with your style of learning and absorbing information.
Some golf instructors love to utilize the latest technology, while some prefer to use their own eye on the driving range. Some teachers like to break the swing down into sections, while others prefer working on the swing as a whole. Certain teachers like to explain verbally, while others are more visual. None of these approaches are better than the others, but the trick is to figure out who is right for you.
Before you spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on a package of lessons, ask a prospective coach to join you for a cup of coffee. Get to know their personality and how it meshes with yours, and ask them questions about their teaching style. If you are looking for online lessons, scroll through the website’s FAQs and see if they offer a free trial (the good ones should). Perform a YouTube search and see if they have free videos that you can watch to learn about their philosophies.
Taking these preliminary steps will go a long way to saving you time and money before making a serious commitment to a golf swing coach or program.
What to Look for in a Golf Swing Coach
Although every teaching style is different, there are commonalities in the vast majority of good golf instructors. If you find a teacher you like who has most or all of these credentials, chances are he’s worth your time.
A little playing experience helps. The best golf instructor over the last 30+ years, Butch Harmon, played the PGA Tour and even won an event before shifting his focus into teaching. Not all teaching pros are going to be that skilled (otherwise they would probably play for a living instead of teach), but some proof that they have played competitively in college or on a mini-tour. If they haven’t been able to pass the PGA of America’s Playing Ability Test, or have failed it numerous times, take your business elsewhere.
They work with good players. High-handicapped golfers are a dime a dozen, and most instructors will have a handful or more of them in their schedule book. However, single-digit handicappers and competitive college and professional golfers are few and far between, and they are a stubborn bunch; they won’t work with just any swing coach. If an instructor’s resume includes a few aspiring pros and college players, they must be doing something right.
Lack of accreditation is a good thing. If they meet the above two criteria, most people start looking for what I like to call “Golf Status Symbols”. Whether its a PGA of America logo or certification from the USGTF, prospective students value these certifications as proof of their teaching prowess. However, if you manage to find a teacher who has a fully booked schedule of lessons and doesn’t even own a business card, that’s the one you want to see. It (usually) means he has built the trust of his students without any of the certifications a traditional teacher may possess.
Communication is everything. Communication goes beyond the act of explaining thoughts; it includes visual communication and sensational communication (the ability to manipulate your hands/body to produce the desired feel). Teaching golf is incredibly difficult if not impossible if the two parties can’t understand or comprehend each other. If you can understand your instructor and vice versa, you have a great chance of finding success with your golf coach.
They keep things simple. The golf swing has too many moving parts to name, and the last thing you want to do is think about 100 things at once while trying to hit a golf ball. The best instructors will give you 1 and no more than 2 aspects of the golf swing to focus on per lesson, along with encouragement to focus on those aspects until your next lesson or until you’ve mastered them. The concept of complicating to profit is well-known in many industries, and golf swing instruction has to be in the top 3.
You Found a Great Swing Coach. Now What?
Once you find the swing instructor or online coaching program that best suits your learning style, there’s only one more thing for you, as the student, to do: stick with them. As is the case with learning any new skill, there is going to be highs and lows. There will be days where everything clicks and there will be days where nothing clicks. Perseverance is essential to improving your golf game, and since everyone is different, certain concepts will be better absorbed my some students more than others. Stay diligent, be patient, and your desired results are bound to come.