Never approach technical skills instruction in a piecemeal fashion, which is is completely counter-productive. Taking the odd lesson now and then from different teaching professionals is a total waste of time. Over time, the mind gets cluttered with different swing theories, movement patterns and positions with little or no holistic vision or feel. Furthermore, it's important to avoid compounding the problem further by also trying to assimilate a multitude of tips from golfing magazines and internet videos (the majority of which are probably wholly inappropriate for your current level of ability) or, even worse, misguided tips from your various playing partners. If you do, you will end up with a patchwork quilt type of swing, made up of countless ‘Band-Aid fixes’ with failing adhesive strips!
Is it any wonder that this type of approach yields no lasting, positive outcomes? So, what is the answer?
- Assess your current playing abilities – spend time getting to know your key statistics and recording them over a minimum of 5 rounds: fairways hit; GIR; putts per round; up and downs %; sand saves %; and scoring average. This will pinpoint which parts of your game are most in need of improvement.
- Have a clear, realistic idea of what it is you want to achieve from your game-improvement effort. Outline your short- and long-term goals.
- You need to believe that you can play to the level you aspire to AND so does the teaching professional of your choice.
- Despite its convenience, don’t simply use the teaching professional attached to the club where you play.
- Research the professionals in your area. Check whether they have the requisite qualifications and experience to take your game to the level you desire. Ask friends and playing partners if they would recommend any instructors they have used. Ask them about pricing, reputation, location, and how much they improved under his/her tutelage. Ask about their use of the latest technologies and methodologies. Ask whether they provide timely communication and feedback in a personal way and any digital content is in a format that suits you. Most importantly, be sure that the instructor has a history of creating positive results for clients.
- Call the instructor and ask if he or she is prepared to meet you. A good instructor should be happy to get to know you as an individual, talk to you about your current game and your improvement goals and also allow you to observe a lesson.
- Ensure that there is a good fit between you and your instructor in terms of personality, your goals, beliefs about the game and how it should be played, and, crucially, your instructor's ability to relate to your individual needs (which includes your preferred learning styles) and adapt their teaching accordingly.
- Agree and commit to a programme of lessons, including playing lessons out on the course (course management is a crucial element of playing good golf).
- Make sure that your clubs are properly suited to both your physical stature and your game with a custom fitting session before you start lessons.
- Have an open mindset and be prepared to start where it counts with your short game. A round of golf is not a series of full swings. Remember that 70% of your round will be played from within 90yds. Therefore if your aim is to lower your scores, then your programme of lessons has to include short game lessons.
- Agree a plan of action with your chosen instructor that allows for a blend of instruction, effective, purposeful practice and playing golf. [Playing golf must form part of any game-improvement strategy – the quest is not for perfect technique, but for lower scores.]
- Incorporate a monthly ‘set-up MOT’ into your strategy – even the very best regularly check their fundamentals!
The good news is that most people have the natural ability (talent) to play well, but do not develop it properly. To improve, you need a clear strategy along with the requisite desire, commitment, patience and perseverance.
While there are few game-improvement guarantees when it comes to golf, I guarantee that if you can fall in love with the PROCESS of improvement, you will find out just how good you can become. The satisfaction is in the striving.
Remember what I said in a previous post: – “Do what is right, not what is easy.”