Who Are The
Skilled Golf Instructors?
There are some excellent golf instructors, but you'll have to search to find one. Golf Professionals have many responsibilities and they have to be trained in each facet of running a golf shop and course. While Golf Professionals go through a training program, how to provide golf instruction is a very small part of that training. Therefore, just because someone is a Golf Professional, or even Teaching Professional, doesn't mean that they are a good instructor. For the average golfer, any average instructor will probably do. If you're serious about improving, then you should search for the best instructor you can find, and that means seeking out an instructor who has made a serious effort to learn the art of teaching the golf swing!
You might be surprised to learn that I suggest not putting too much faith in recommendations from friends or other golfers. The reason is that what helps one golfer improve could potentially make another worse. If an instructor teaches the same thing to everyone, then just because they helped your friend doesn't mean they'll be able to help you. The answer to this potential problem is to find an instructor who can teach a variety swings, or at least the type of swing you have, or want to learn.
One thing a golfer can do to identify a golf instructor's level of skill is to ask them about their training and experience—how have they been trained to teach, and did they train as a teaching apprentice under a good instructor? Teaching apprenticeships are by far the best education, but are rare, so this option will be hard to find. Knowledge of a variety of acceptable golf swing techniques is also important, but again, this is rare as most instructors make the mistake of combining parts of different swing styles into one, which I call a Frankenstein swing.
Unfortunately, it is extremely difficult for an amateur to gauge an instructor's level of knowledge. As an alternative, if the instructor you're considering doesn't have an impressive background, you could ask what they have done to become a good instructor. Have they made a serious effort to learn how to teach—what was it—and what do they know about the golf swing. Do they continue to expand their abilities? Don't be fooled by generic answers like I'm a certified instructor, I've given ten thousand lessons, I've been teaching for thirty years, or I'm a Golf Professional so of course I know how to teach. Without additional information, none of these things are evidence of quality teaching skills. Get the specifics of what they think makes them a good instructor and then you have to decide if that is good enough for you.
If an instructor claims to have worked with a well known instructor, be very careful because what they mean by "worked with" may be that they took some lessons from the instructor rather than having apprenticed under them. Taking some lessons isn't training to be an instructor! Ask how long they taught with the instructor. It takes a long time to develop an in-depth understanding of a particular golf swing style. A few months doesn't begin to cut it!
Also, don't be fooled by those high tech teaching facilities you'll find in many cities. You might be impressed by the equipment, but the instruction is only as good as the person using the equipment! These instructors generally have no more training, and possibly less, than what you'll find elsewhere. The bottom line is that a good instructor can possibly be found anywhere, but don't assume that because someone is a Golf Professional they are a good instructor. The nearest "quality" golf instructor may be your local Golf Professional or Teaching Professional, but then again, there may not be a truly good instructor within hours of you. I know I sound like a broken record, but ultimately, you are responsible for the quality of instruction you receive so if you want to become a much better golfer, interview until you find the person you want to learn from.
As a personal example of how strongly I feel about the importance of acquiring the highest quality golf instruction, I moved from Los Angeles, where I had taken many lessons from a variety of instructors, to Florida to work with the instructor I felt would be able to most help me improve. You probably aren't as serious about your golf as I was, but if you want to improve your golf game you should at least make an effort to find the instructor that is the best fit for you in your area.
Casey Eberting Golf Instruction
Tulsa / Broken Arrow, Oklahoma
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