by Catherine Marien
Finding the right golf teacher is probably one of the biggest challenges beginners face. Golf teachers come in all types and shapes, but unfortunately not all with the same teaching skills.
Paradoxically, more experienced golf students will more easily find a golf teaching professional who meets their standard. The real challenge for a golf teacher (as for all teachers) is to teach a beginner the basics in an understandable way that fits the student’s needs, while keeping their motivation intact.
So what traits and teaching skills should you, as a golf student, be looking for in your future golf instructor ?
1. Technical knowledge
Obviously, the prerequisite to make a good golf instructor is someone who has a good deal of expertise in the game, who can show you the right grip, stance, moves and explain you the mechanics of the golf shot.
2. Good observer with strong sense of analysis
However, being an expert golfer or tour player is not enough to make a good golf instructor. What you need is not a fine demonstration of YOUR TEACHER’s game, but rather a good analysis of YOUR own game, followed by tips tailored to your own level and possibilities. A teacher who just keeps asking you to reproduce what he just demonstrated, without keeping in mind what your current possibilities are, and taking into account your learning curve, will not make a good golf instructor. Golf is very much a game of confidence, so a good golf teacher should build on and develop your strengths, not just point out what you are doing wrong.
3. Passionate about Golf
This seems straightforward, but the risk is that golf teachers who spend too much time on the driving range forget what they really liked about golf. When golf classes become too theoretical, students may loose interest and no longer see the nice part of the game. Teachers who are passionate about their sport always keep a close connection with the real game of golf, even in their classes, and are able to communicate this passion to their students.
4. Trained teacher with excellent communication skills
An expert golfer and good analyst of the game also needs some good teaching skills to be able to communicate in an understandable way what he expects from you. Good communicators typically use metaphors or comparisons to make things more understandable and adapt their speech to the student’s own fields of interest to keep their attention focused.
People with a high level of expertise can become precision freaks. It takes some open-mindedness to understand that not all students aim to become tour golfers. A good golf teacher should accept that some of their students just want to learn how to survive on the golf course and increase their OWN game’s efficiency in the shortest possible time, period. When this is the case it is a waste of time to spend the first couple of classes endlessly correcting grip and stance until they are picture-perfect, unless they are too much impacting on your game. An open-minded golf teacher (with good sense of analysis) will teach you some tricks and tips to improve YOUR game in the shortest time possible, without loosing time trying to turn you into a typical golf class clone.