A Lesson On Learning

How to be a good student at your next golf lesson

A Lesson On LearningWhy is it that some golfers improve dramatically and rapidly while others, no matter what they do, fail to advance beyond the level of novice? As a golf instructor who has given more than 10,000 golf lessons over the past eight years, I’m here to tell you why: Achieving successful results from a golf lesson begins and ends with you, not the instructor.  An effective golf instructor can only do so much and is only as good as the student allows him or her to be. Hence, the first step to becoming a better golfer begins with becoming a better student.

Play First
The next time you schedule a lesson, try to play nine or 18 holes before your session with the pro. This will not only help you feel more relaxed and comfortable, but will also help you gauge what part of your game needs improvement. One of the most common mistakes golfers make is not doing enough between lessons to make their next session productive. Remember, golf lessons are supposed to help you  improve your game, and without enough time on the course, all the lessons in the world won’t help a bit.

The Bad
Tell me if this sounds familiar: You roll into the golf course parking lot one minute before the lesson, or even late, with no time available for stretching or warm-ups. Upon arriving at the practice tee, you immediately pull the driver from your bag and begin taking monstrous full swings. You’re stressed out from work, and the traffic didn’t help. During the lesson, you inform the instructor that you “can’t” change your grip or swing because it’s “uncomfortable.” You perform prescribed drills in front of the teacher, but never on your own. You demand instant improvement and, frankly, you talk often and listen little.

The Good
Unfortunately, many students resemble the one described above. These circumstances cause too many distractions and make quality time with a golf instructor less effective than it could be. The solution? Well, let’s start by looking at students who do the right thing when receiving lessons.

Most successful students arrive early. They begin their warm-ups before the scheduled lesson time. They stretch, hit some wedge shots and work their way through the bag. They leave stress in the parking lot and know that for the next 30 to 60 minutes, they aren’t going to challenge any preconceived notions or feelings about their golf swing. Instead, they’ll be open and receptive to trying new things.

They bring a notebook to record important points made during the lesson. They inform the instructor of their golf history and with what parts of the swing they tend to struggle. They maintain a positive attitude throughout the lesson.

Good students are willing to experiment and work to change flaws. They never say “can’t” and, more importantly, they know that improvements are the result of not only careful instruction, but also diligent practice. They work on drills that will continue to shape a correct swing long after the lesson. They listen much more than they talk.

Successful students know that to get better, they may need to make some “uncomfortable” changes, but they continue to practice, knowing that these changes will help them improve in the long run. Rather than getting frustrated, they simply understand that it’s change that’s most important.


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