While we love to read about Golf theory and tips (and we appreciate you reading this site for that information), it’s also easy to get overwhelmed with so much information at times.
Sometimes when you’re in a slump, it’s hard to know what to work on to get out of it and start playing better scores. This is where a certified golf instructor can help you out.
Plus, a good coach is helpful in every sport at every level.
Just look at great athletes like Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Anika Sorenstam, Tom Brady and others. Even the best athletes in the world have coaches. As NFL coach Pete Carroll once said,
“Each person holds so much power within themselves that needs to be let out. Sometimes they just need a little nudge, a little direction, a little support, a little coaching, and the greatest things can happen.”
To help you reach your full potential and start shooting lower scores, here’s how to select a coach for your golf game.
How to Pick a Golf Coach – 5 Steps to Success
Step 1: Assessing Your Golf Goals
Before shopping around for a golf teacher, ask yourself if you even need one.
Start by getting clear on your goals beforehand. If you’re playing the game simply to get out of the house and enjoy time with friends, you probably don’t need a golf swing instructor.
But if you’re an avid golfer who eats, lives, and breathes golf, you can benefit from having a golf coach. I will say though, don’t think that professional golf lessons will magically fix your game.
Newsflash… they won’t!
Coaches can give you tons of guidance and drills, but ultimately it’s up to you to do the work.
Think about it like a personal trainer who works with clients. Each week, the client works with a trainer for one hour a few times per week. But what they do the other 23 hours makes the biggest difference, not the one hour of time together.
The same goes for golf. Don’t sign up for coaching unless you have the work ethic, time, and attitude to practice. A lesson per month won’t do anything for your game unless you’re practicing what you learn between sessions.
Step 2: Research Golf Instructors
You might be thinking, well how do I find golf lessons anyways?
There are tons of ways to find the right golf instructor. Some of the best ways include:
- Searching online: Since most instructors have websites and/or social media accounts, you’re only a quick Google search away. Simply type in “Golf coaches in (insert your city/area). Then browse around so you can learn more about them, view rates, reviews, etc.
- Asking your golfing buddies: Even in a digital world, word of mouth is still a great way to find the coach for your game. Ask friends, family, and golfing buddies if they recommend anyone and do some research on them.
- PGA of America: As I’ll discuss in the next step, make sure that your coach is accredited and qualified to teach golf. Click here to find local PGA coaches in your area.
- Local golf courses: The final way is to call or look online for your local golf courses. They might have a club pro and teaching pro so make sure to clarify who is giving the instruction beforehand.
Step 3: Vet Local Golf Teachers
Once you’ve done your research, it’s time to start contacting golf coaches.
Similar to when joining a country club, you don’t want to make this decision lightly. As you will be spending a good chunk of your time and money with this person, it’s important to do your research beforehand.
When vetting out local golf coaches, here’s what to look for:
Certifications and Background
The first thing is to make sure they are PGA certified. This will vet out someone who thinks they’re a golf teacher vs. someone who’s can help you reach your goals.
Another thing to think about is their style of teaching. Are they a coach that is going to force a swing method or swing type down your throat, or will they work with your swing to make improvements?
For example, some coaches only teach the “single plane” swing. But if you don’t want that type of swing, it’s not going to be a good fit. Always ask them about their methodology beforehand!
Personally, I won’t take a lesson from someone who isn’t a good player.
Now, I’m not saying they need to be shooting par or better every round but I want to work with a good player. A lot of coaches know the teachings of a good swing but can’t play to save their lives.
When you work with a good player (not just a good teacher), they can help you with a lot more than just your swing. They will help you learn more about the mental game, course management, short game, scoring in tournaments, and more.
When vetting out coaches, what is the setup like?
Make sure to research:
- Lessons are indoors, outdoors at the driving range or both?
- Can you get lessons in winter months?
- Can you check in between lessons?
- Do they offer playing lessons on the golf course?
- Do they have a short game area or only full swing?
- What type of technology do they have (launch monitor, ball flight, swing aids, etc)?
- Will the lesson get sent to you afterward? Can you access them forever or only when working together?
Also, make sure to ask them questions like if they work with junior golfers, college golf programs, seniors, professionals, etc. It’s okay to ask them more about this to learn thier track record for success. This will help you get to know if someone is going to help your golf game in the right direction.
In a perfect world, you always want coaching that gives some videos of your golf swing for you to take home. This way you can see before/after, get to learn more about your lesson, and know the right drills moving forward.
Golf Lesson Rates
One of the most important things you can do when trying to find the right coach is to get a trial lesson. I would never recommend buying a 5 or 10 packs of lessons without testing the waters first.
You wouldn’t buy a car without test-driving, the same thing goes for finding the right instructor. There’s nothing worse than buying a package before your first lesson, only to realize you don’t like them or their style of teaching.
This will help you save money, time, and a ton of frustration.
Step 4: Trial Lesson
After you’ve found a coach who will do a trial lesson, now it’s time to go to your lesson!
You want to make sure to show up early, warm up properly, and be ready to learn. Don’t forget your instructor is also assessing you and your desire to improve.
Once your golfing lesson is over, think about:
Compatibility of Golf Instructor
First off, what was your initial experience?
- Feel comfortable?
- Have fun and learn a lot?
- Feel there was a good fit between your instructor and you?
- Feel like they knew what they were doing or did it feel like they were phoning it in?
Energy doesn’t lie.
You can pretty quickly tell if you’re going to get along with your coach or not. While I’m not saying that you need to be identical twins and have everything in common, you want to like and trust them.
It’s also easy to tell if coaches act like you’re a commodity vs. getting to know you and actually want you to improve. You don’t want to be just another coaching client but instead someone who can help you for the long term.
Step 5: Commit to a Coach
Finally, commit to a coaching relationship.
The last thing you want to do is get a lesson from every coach in your area and get too many opinions on your swing. Instead, once you find one stick with it for 3-6+ months with regular lessons.
In between lessons, make sure you are implementing what you learn as well. Remember, none of this works if you get one lesson per month but don’t take the time to ingrain new habits.
FAQs About Golf Swing Instruction
Do you have more questions about golf instruction?
If so, we have answers to help you find the right coach.
Should I do online lessons or in-person coaching?
In a virtual, post-pandemic world this is a great question.
Ideally, I would always suggest an in-person coaching if possible. While online coaching is a good alternative, I think it’s hard to get the same type of results as in-person.
When you’re in person, you can work 1:1 with your coach to make the necessary changes. It’s easier to have them guide you through the changes you need to make instead of telling you via video. Sometimes, it’s hard to feel the change when you’re only working via messaging and video.
It’s also a lot easier to retain what you learn when it’s in-person coaching as well. I think the best coaching is in-person with video highlights, learnings, and drills that get sent out after. This way you can review what you learned and keep grinding in between sessions.
Are golf lessons worth it?
Yes, I believe they are 100% if you find the right one for your swing, budget, and goals. Golf lessons with a pro can help you learn more about your swing and practice with purpose.
What makes a good golf instructor?
Personally, I think a good golf instructor is someone who works with your natural swing.
I hate it when I see coaches who make you change everything about your swing seemingly overnight. This is usually a disaster and leads you leaving more confused than when you arrived.
During your trial lesson, I think it’s a great idea to have a conversation about your swing, goals, and biggest issues to address. You want to find a coach who will help you with a single issue at a time so you can make changes. You don’t want to try and fix 2-3 things at once and not be able to play very well between lessons.
The final thing that I think makes a good instructor is someone who you know has your back. You can usually feel this energy in the trial lesson and see how passionate they are about the game and helping fellow players improve.
How much do golf instructors charge?
Like coaches of any sport, golf lesson rates can vary greatly.
Some coaches might charge $80 to $100 hour while other high-end coaches that are featured in Golf Digest might charge $400+ per hour!
Some of the biggest factors include:
- Time: Some golf teachers charge by half hour or hour. Others might require a two-hour minimum on your first lesson to get to know your golf swing.
- Schedule: Some coaches are busier than others and that will also impact the hourly rate. If a coach has a nearly full roster, they might charge more as their time is valuable. Or a college golf coach might also teach on the side, it really depends on the individual.
- Golf club: Usually, coaches at higher end golf clubs will charge a higher lesson rate. Or, if coaches are working a driving range they normally have to pay a certain amount per student to the facility itself.
Also, most of them tend to have a lower hourly rate if you buy in bulk as a set number of sessions. Make sure to clarify rates and packages during your research and trial lesson.
Golf Instruction Final Thoughts
Finding a golf instructor is key to improving your game, creating new habits, and playing better golf consistently. Remember, even the best golfers in the world have coaches, so it’s not a bad idea for you to have one in your corner as well.
But don’t choose a golf coach on a whim. Make sure that you go through our five-step process to find the right coach for your game.
Finally, don’t forget that coaching will help but it’s more about what you do in between lessons that counts most. You need to make sure to work on your weaknesses, stay patient, and trust the process to see the best results.