Golf lessons are a tricky bit of business because it’s difficult to gauge how effective they are, even with a good instructor.
Everyone learns in a different way, which is something we’re going to cover extensively in this article.
For some people, golf lessons were a literal game-changer. It helped them become the golfers that they always wanted to be, and they’re better off for it.
Then there are others (like yours truly) that got more out of visual and auditory learning than I ever would have thought.
Golf lessons have a lot to consider: your time, the cost, researching competent instructors, determining the right amount of time to practice each week. It’s a decent percentage of your time, and you should treat it as such.
Let’s go over everything you need to know about golf lessons.
What to Expect from Golf Lessons
The first one is going to be much different from others. There’s this sense of nervousness when you step onto the course, and that’s okay—it’s totally common and normal to feel this way.
If you’ve never played golf before, I’m willing to bet that you didn’t carve out time, buy clubs, golf clothing, golf shoes and gear, and spend money on an instructor just to not learn the sport. You’re here because you’re dedicated to learning.
That’s a good thing, and it’s something that your instructor will know to be true. A willing student is exactly what any instructor or teacher is looking for.
From your first lesson, you’ll melt away those nerves after ten minutes. It’s intimidating to go up to someone who seemingly has all the experience in the world, and then fumble in front of them as you try to learn the game. Then again, that’s what you paid for.
From your second lesson onward, that feeling is completely washed away. Now you can focus on the game and learning it instead of worrying.
So what else can you expect?
For one, you’re going to start off with how to stand, and how to swing. The fundamentals.
Golf instructors are big on making sure you have the right form, even if it doesn’t feel like the easiest way in the world to do it.
From my experience, golf instructors are acutely aware of the numerous ways you can injure yourself while playing and learning, and they do a good job of preventing this from happening.
After your first few lessons, you will have learned how to stand, how to swing, and about different golf mechanics, regulation, information and general trivia about the game.
You’re getting a crash course while getting hands-on experience.
This may sound like I’m building up the idea of hiring a golf instructor, but there’s another part of this article where I’m also going to tell you why you might not need all of this.
What Age to Start Golf Lessons at
While golf is usually perceived as the “Boomer Sport” in many capacities, it’s really not. It’s an all-age type of sport that you can even get the little ones into.
You can look at the fact that Tiger Woods was basically golfing by the age of two, but that’s not a reasonable expectation to put on any child.
Once they show an interest, that’s when you should start golf lessons.
Nobody excels at something that they truly despise doing, so when your child sees interest in golf – which they will since you’re doing it and young children aspire to emulate their parents – that’s the right age to start.
This usually falls around four to seven years old in most children.
If they start that young, that’s great, but don’t start putting expectations on them for a while until they can fully understand the competitive elements of sports in general.
The back-end of this question asks if there’s a certain age where you can’t learn golf anymore.
There is, but it’s less about the number and more about the average body type and physical fitness level of people in certain age ranges.
We know that our bodies get frail as we get older, so the older we get, the less dynamic movements we should do if we aren’t up to the task.
Golf injuries can cause crippling pain for life if they’re severe enough, so at a certain age, you should ask yourself about your physical fitness and consult your doctor before beginning golfing lessons.
How Many Golf Lessons Does a Beginner Need?
It’s usually not about the number of lessons, but about the end result after a certain amount of hours on the course.
There are two ways you can look at this. Either way, you should be able to hit a specific goal regardless of which path you choose.
The goal is to drive a ball around 145 yards with about 75% accuracy. As in, getting it relatively close to the point where you actually want it to land. You can approach it in two ways.
Method 1: More Lessons, More Hours
Your only time on the course is the time spent with your instructor. You have a rigid schedule, whether it’s twice a week or just every Sunday, but it’s the only time you golf.
This means you’re going to pay for more lessons and take a bit longer to reach the skill level that you want.
The benefit of this is that you’re being time-efficient about it. You might be passionate about golf, but if you dove in headfirst and kept going, you’d burn out and hit a plateau in your learning curve.
That can bring frustration along with it, so this option is great to learn golf gradually without it taking a huge chunk of your time.
Method 2: fewer Lessons, More Practice
In this instance, you can start with a lesson or two, but then you’ll take to the course on your own free time to put in the effort. Think of that whole 10,000-hour rule about mastering something.
This is a much more dedicated approach, but you’ll save money on lessons.
You can still take your lessons, of course, but this way you can skip certain elements that you might be able to fine-tune or pick up on your own.
Your instructor is there to consistently evaluate your process, but most people look at it as a tier-based system.
If you know something, you don’t have to re-learn it for the sake of the lessons. That’s why you pay them per lesson.
Different Ways That People Learn
Sports are a hands-on thing, but since golf is not a contact sport, there’s more room for interpretation of learning styles.
You can learn how to do certain things without being completely hands-on.
I know that sounds crazy, and muscle memory is important (the hands-on element), but it’s still important to look at learning through a different lens.
These are the four main ways that people learn different things, from hands-on tasks to academic work.
Audiobooks, radio, podcasts – do you get excited just thinking of all these?
Auditory learners get the most out of hearing about something before putting it into action for themselves.
Once you hear it, you feel like you can do it, and you’re able to better work out the hands-on motions of what you should be doing.
You often think back to something you heard and use that to help you out when you’re trying to remember something. It’s a very powerful form of learning.
You see, and then you can do – mostly. Even visual learners can’t perfect a skill until they actually get hands-on with it.
Think of visual learning, much like auditory learning, like you’re biding your time and not actively doing something, and then when you do it you excel at an accelerated rate.
It’s like a savings account of knowledge, just building interest until you can put it into action.
Visual learners get more out of watching golf on television and seeing a playback of their own swings/games to better understand where things could be improved, or where they went wrong.
This is the term for hands-on learning. Some of us learn better by actually doing something instead of reading or hearing about it.
There’s nothing wrong with that. If anything, this may be the best learning method, and if it applies to you, that’s great news.
You get to rack up the hours of expertise, all while knowing that it’s majorly impacting your comprehension of the sport.
Reading and Writing Learners
I’ve learned a ton about golf just through books. When you read about golf, and when you write about it (much like I am doing right now), it forms a connection.
You’re interacting with a transcriptional method of how information is shared among billions of people. When you think of it like that, it’s pretty powerful stuff.
7 Reasons Why Golf Lessons Won’t Work for You
#1 Your Instructor is a Different Learner
If your instructor learns primarily through auditory means, but you’re a kinesthetic learner, them telling you “Just remember X” isn’t really going to help you out.
They should be showing you how to actually do it instead of telling you about it. That’s because they learn best in a different method than you.
This explains why some firsthand accounts of golf instructors include those that were immediately helpful and those who just didn’t seem to give the learner anything to benefit from.
You work better with someone who is of the same learning mindset as you.
Does this mean you can’t be taught by someone with a different learning method?
No, not at all. You don’t just fit into one of those four categories in a cookie-cutter fashion. There are varying degrees. The bookworm versus the documentary addict, for example.
#2 Medical Problems
You can have medical problems and still learn how to play golf properly. That’s not a concern. However, golf instructors aren’t the highest paid professions in America.
All they need, on average, is a PGA ur USGA certification (through an accredited source) to be hired by a golf course and teach students.
They don’t know how to help you out with medical conditions that may affect your game, or how you travel from hole to hole. It could be a big wedge between the learning process.
Even when face-to-face, you can still completely misunderstand someone. If you didn’t hear someone properly when they were telling a joke, you can brush it off without it impacting what you’re doing.
If you misunderstand directions from an instructor, you’re going to do something different than what they instructed you to do.
They get frustrated. You get frustrated. Nobody learns anything. Golf instructors shouldn’t just be proficient in golf, but in how to speak to people and mediate problems.
If there’s a clear miscommunication, you need an instructor that can say, “I think we’re not hearing each other clearly, let’s try this a different way.”
#4 Lack of Communication
This is entirely different than miscommunication. With miscommunication, two people try to understand each other but fail to do so.
With a lack of communication, you’re simply not getting enough information to carry out what they’re asking you.
There are no clear expectations, no goals, and the whole idea of a lesson just falls apart very quickly.
The reason a lack of communication is so detrimental is that it makes things awkward. We all have inner thoughts, so when someone isn’t being communicative, we get self-conscious.
When we get self-conscious, we don’t ask important questions, because it feels wrong to do so. They don’t talk, you’re nervous to talk, and there’s tension. A tense environment isn’t a learning environment.
#5 Your Expectations
When you’ve never done something before, like golf, you don’t know what to expect. But we don’t just go into something with zero expectations, do we?
Instead, we try to form some idea of what we should get out of a situation, or out of our money, or our time.
Truth is, that’s impossible to predict. You can’t say “I’m spending $100.00 right now, so I should be $100.00 better at golf than I was before.”
It’s not practical. You could have a steeper learning curve than someone else, and if that’s the case, you’re going to need more lessons. You might be setting your expectations too high without even fully realizing it.
Take a moment to regroup and ask yourself, “What do I want out of this?” before continuing with the notion of lessons.
#6 Ignoring the Proposed Changes
It’s ironic, but people will sign up for lessons all the time, and no matter what those lessons are for (golf, dance, take your pick) it doesn’t mean you’re going to get any better.
If you aren’t able to implement proposed changes properly, whether it’s through a different learning style or hitting a learning curve, then you can’t really progress. It’s like an unstoppable force meeting an immovable object.
Some proposed changes in our swing style or how we stand might not seem like a big deal, but if you got a good instructor, then they’re proposing this change because they truly believe that it will positively impact your game and performance.
We have to be willing to change the way we play and be comfortable accepting new ideas.
#7 Your Instructor Just Isn’t Good at Their Job
This one’s hard to gauge, because how could you possibly know if they’re competent or not? It’s a professional environment in a sport that you don’t know much about, which puts you on the defensive.
If you’re an auditory or visual learner, you might be able to spot improper techniques and mistakes that instructors make, but that’s not a likely scenario.
You never know if your instructor is actually any good unless you look at online reviews (if there are any for that individual instructor), and even then you can see biases based on a single less-than-perfect experience.
This one’s a toughie. There’s no right or wrong way to approach it, you just have to do your research and hope that your instructor is good. Being certified and being good at your job are two different things.
Find What Works and Run With it
Everyone learns differently.
If you’re learning with golf lessons, then I suggest you stick with it and hone your skills. Everybody learns in a different capacity, so it’s not possible to just say “Do this, this works, trust me.”
Think of this article as an objective piece of learning golf in all methods. I think you should try a couple of golf lessons and see how it feels.
If you’re comfortable, your instructor seems to know what they’re doing, and you’re enjoying yourself (while seeing your skills increase), continue it.
If not, there are plenty of other approaches you can take to learning golf the right way.