Many people want to know how to learn golf, but when you visit a typical driving range, you often see parents teaching children, spouses teaching spouses, and friends teaching friends. In other words, most people do not receive professional instruction. And, most of these people providing the golf instruction are not very good golfers themselves. Think about that for a second. If you had a desire to learn kung fu, would you ask a friend, spouse, or parent who had the equivalent of a white belt in the art to teach you? Probably not, but this is typically what occurs in the game of golf.
One of the reasons for this is that when it comes to golf, there is not much consensus among even the top instructors in the game on how to teach. As a result, golf students generally have to simply hope they receive instruction of value for the money they pay. Also, private golf instruction is quite expensive, with most top instructors charging $100 or more for a one hour lesson.
Beginner lessons tend not to be of much help either. Typically, beginner lessons are provided in a group setting for a set fee for four, five or six lessons. The instruction will cover how to hold the club, how to stand up to the ball with a club in your hand, how to make a swing, and maybe some instruction on putting and the shorter shots around the green. Then, the new golfer is simply let loose and expected to go play. This approach is essentially the proverbial equivalent of throwing stuff on the wall and hoping something sticks. If one of the ten people in the group ends up having some ability, the instructor feels they have done their job.
Here’s the deal though. Virtually anyone can learn golf, and within one or two years, if they train properly, can shoot under 80 for an 18 hole round of golf. That means anyone with even less than average ability. However, in order to accomplish this, the training must be similar to how you would learn a martial art. Martial arts and golf are complex activities that both require a lot of repetition in order to learn. A martial arts student does not simply wake up and one day has the ability to fight like Chuck Norris. Likewise, a golf student will not simply wake up and have the ability to play like Tiger Woods.
Yet, this is the approach most people take toward learning golf, and unfortunately, how many instructors approach teaching. Only the lucky few who have either significant athletic ability and hand eye coordination, or have the means to pay thousands of dollars toward golf lessons will ultimately learn how to play the game well.
Fortunately, there is another way. There are quality instructors who approach golf instruction in a similar manner to how a martial art is taught. They lay out a specific step by step process for teaching golf, and can provide this process in a group or private setting. Ultimately, it really does not take hours of practice each day to become a good golfer. However, it does require consistent, focused practice. The instructor who lays out this process, and communicates it well is the type of instructor a prospective golfer should seek.
If you really want to learn how to play golf, find an instructor that is not hung up on what swing model works best, or how their prized student is playing professional golf. Find an instructor who can teach anyone how to play well, no matter their ability, and you will be sure to get on the right path to playing good golf.
Scott Cole is a professional golf instructor, and first degree blackbelt in the art of Pai Lum Kung Fu. He provides an online golf training program geared toward beginners at How To Learn Golf Today