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Finding The Right Golf Instructor

Many factors come into play when searching for your perfect golf instructor



Tina Mickelson giving a golf lesson

Finding the right golf instructor is as important in golf as finding the right spouse is in life.....and can be just as difficult. Just like in a marriage, communication between student and instructor is the most important factor. You could have three instructors standing in front of you, all saying the exact same thing about your golf swing, and only one of them might make sense to you while all you hear coming from the other mouths is, "Blah blah blah." (Cue: Charlie Brown's teacher)

Keep in mind that every instructor has a different style of teaching. Are you someone who learns better by watching rather than hearing it explained? Is the only way for it to sink in is to have someone actually put your body in the correct position so you can practice muscle memory? It's important to understand how YOU learn best, and then set out on your search for the instructor whose teaching technique matches that.

Many students are quick to sign up for a series of lessons with one instructor before ever taking a lesson from him or her. A "series" usually consists of 6 lessons, with the last lesson being free. Often times they take their first lesson, find out they don't really click with the instructor, and never return for the remaining lessons. Before taking the plunge, try out a few instructors before committing to one.

There are some things to keep in mind for your first lesson that will make it easier to determine if you are with the right instructor:

  • Make sure they are a PGA or LPGA Professional. Just like you wouldn’t want to send your child to a school where the teachers weren’t certified, you want to be sure your golf instructor has had all the proper training, certification, and continues to hone his/her craft.
  • If you know the style in which you learn best, be sure to communicate that.
  • Be clear about your goals and honest about how much time you are actually going to be able to put in practicing. If you are just looking for a quick tune up, the instructor will take a much different approach than if you are looking for a full swing overhaul.
  • Have realistic expectations. Golf is hard. It's fun, but it's hard. Don't expect to see dramatic changes right away. Many times your swing will be worse (which means results will be worse) before you see improvement. The reason for this is when you make a mechanical swing change your rhythm, timing, and tempo are thrown off. You might be making all the right swing changes but until you get comfortable with them, your tempo and timing might suffer a bit. But don't worry....it WILL come around and once your tempo gets back to normal you will LOVE what you see!
  • Don't be afraid to ask questions or tell your instructor you just don't get it. That will let the instructor know it's time to take a different approach. Sometimes it takes a few different ways of explaining the same thing before it actually clicks.
  • Have fun. If the lesson is not fun, if you are not completely comfortable with the instructor, or if it just seems like a chore, that is your cue that it's just not going to work out. You can use the obligatory, "It's not you, it's me," shake hands, and move on. It doesn't mean that instructor was not a good one. They just weren't a good one for YOU. Not a fit.....no biggie.  

But trust me.....once you do find that perfect instructor, you will see what a difference it makes. My wish is that everyone finds their perfect "golf marriage." 

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Fore! San Diego's Best Golf

Golf tips, advice, and stories from Tina Mickelson

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Tina has been a teaching professional since 1991 and has been a PGA Class 'A' Member since 1994. She currently teaches out of the Santaluz Club in San Diego, CA where she also serves as their Golf Ambassador.

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