WHAT TO EXPECT AT YOUR LESSON
Following on from Part 1 of the 'Beginner's Guide To Your First Golf Lesson', this next instalment outlines what to expect at your first lesson, the different approaches coaches use and how to effectively practise what you've been taught.
WHAT YOU NEED TO BRING
All you need is a set of clubs (a hand-me-down set is fine), a teachable attitude and an open mind. Your pro might take a look and offer some club recommendations to suit your game but come prepared to listen and learn.
If you have booked a lesson with a pro at a private club, you’ll need to fulfil the dress code requirements. Remember to ask at the time of booking what you’ll need to wear, but most clubs are pretty relaxed – a collared shirt and appropriate footwear will usually be sufficient, but definitely no jeans.
If it’s at a range or public course, just make sure you wear appropriate footwear - you don’t need golf shoes but a pair of joggers will do the job for now.
BEFORE THE LESSON
Having a golf coach assess your game will hopefully improve the weakest parts of it.
It’s not a bad idea to have in mind what you want to fix, so decide before the lesson starts what you most need help with – even if it’s as simple as just getting the club on the ball.
And it’s not all about your swing: your coach can assist with short game skills such as bunker play, chipping and putting.
THE GOLF PRO
Arrive for your lesson with plenty of time to spare so you can stretch and warm up before reporting to the pro shop to meet your new coach.
Your coach will probably begin the lesson by asking you questions such as:
- How long have you been playing?
- What’s your handicap? (don’t worry if you don’t have one, you don’t need it to have a lesson)
- What aspects of your game do you want to improve?
- How much practice are you able to do?
- Do you have any physical restrictions that impede your swing?
After the golf pro has got a feel for where you’re at, it’s time to start hitting some balls – maybe a half dozen or so usually using a six or seven iron.
Don’t be worried by the apparent silence after each of your opening shots; your coach is simply trying to ascertain your ball flight and assess your swing movement.
Now’s where the coaching part starts. Your golf pro will diagnose any problems they detect and try to explain it to you in simple terms.
The pro might even use a video recording of your swing to assist your understanding. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.
After the diagnosis, your golf coach will show you how to correct your faults, again by keeping it simple and narrowing the focus down to just one or two things to work on initially.
This is where a good teaching pro’s expertise comes to the fore: they’ll explain how to develop your technique without overloading your brain with too much information.
Whether it’s through a teaching aid or drill, your pro will explain new movements and feelings necessary to ingrain the swing changes.
BOOM OR BUST
Sometimes all that’s required is a small trigger to see instant results during your lesson.
But don’t be discouraged if everything feels weird and you’re hitting it worse than ever during and after your first lesson.
Swing changes sometimes take time – trust your coach, stick with it and keep practising the new drills your coach has assigned to you.
AFTER THE LESSON
Your mission is to complete the new drills your coach has given to you, subject to how much time you can dedicate to practising them.
The more the better but remember, it’s vital to complete the drills correctly; don’t adjust them just because everything feels a bit different to what you have done in the past.
Existing habits sometimes take a while to change and completing drills are the best way to improve technique.
THE TAKE AWAY
If you thought your first lesson was a success and can see a bright future with your coach, try to book in regular lessons to keep the momentum going - you can sometimes get a discount for buying lessons in bulk to use later down the track.
A lesson will take the guesswork out of your swing by focusing on the areas that require attention and not changing the already sound aspects of your swing.
If your coach uses swing analysis technology, you can benchmark your swing when you’re hitting it great for a comparison when you’re not. Storing the data for future lessons (if you’re keen to return, of course), means you can start your next lesson exactly where you left off from your last one.
So go ahead, book your first lesson and take your enjoyment of the game to even greater heights.