Teed Off (Sep.9 2013)
with Robert Bicknell
Many people have asked me how to choose a good golf instructor and the answer isn't as easy as you might think, simply because of what is involved.
First of all, I wouldn't judge any instructor solely by whatever alphabet he has after his name. Throughout the world, there are many people out there giving lessons who shouldn't be, despite any particular association they belong to. That pro might be a great player or a great administrator, but teaching is a specialty and one that requires years of experience and continued study.
Having said that, there are also a lot of good ones out there and to find them, you need to ask around. The ones that get good results are easy to find because everyone is talking good about them.
For example, some people swear by David Leadbetter schools, others like Jim Flick, Jimmy Ballard, etc. There are many renowned international golf schools, yet nobody can ever agree who is best and the same problem applies to local professionals as well, so listen to what people say and then investigate further.
Once you have found a few that you want to consider, visit them and ask for a free consultation and review of your swing. Most pros have no problem taking a quick look and giving you their opinion. This is a very important part of the process because you will get an idea of what they are thinking and how they communicate the information to you.
If they say things that you cannot understand or simply don't agree with, pass on to the next pro and go through the process again. Listen carefully to what they say and how they say it.
Communication, either verbal or by pantomime is vital to understanding.
To learn quickly, you need to trust the person teaching you. If what they say sounds a bit strange, then you'll have trouble trusting them.
Some pros will tell you there is a simple cure for your faults, and there might be. Others might recommend a complete rebuild of your swing. Be careful here because in many cases, a complete rebuild might not be necessary, especially if you just want to play a little better and not run out to join the tour.
However, if most of them tell you a complete rebuild is necessary, it probably is and you should consider it.
While there are certain fundamentals in a golf swing which must be followed, a swing is like a bowl of pho…seasoned to the way which suits you best. In short, there are many roads leading to Rome, some better than others and not all professionals teach the same way.
But one thing is certain - the moment you hit a ball correctly, you'll feel the difference.
I really don't recommend learning from friends, unless they are a professional, because while they try to be helpful, in most cases they overlook the cause of the problem and focus on the symptoms. This is only a band-aid and will continue to cause headaches until correctly addressed and fixed.
As a professional, I can tell you that it's much better to learn correctly from the beginning, instead of coming to us later to fix a problem. Bad habits are very hard to break and the entire affair can be frustrating and slow.
Think how hard it is to stop smoking. That is a bad habit as well.
Recently, I have seen an increase in junior players coming in for lessons and that thrills me because kids are fun to teach and I know they will continue to grow as players. We need more junior players now if we want to have some top amateurs and professionals in Viet Nam someday.
So, bottom line is find a teacher who is known for getting results and who makes sense to you. Then, work on a programme with him that will help you achieve your goal.
Lastly, if you have kids and want them to play golf, don't teach them yourself. Get a pro to do it right and both you and your kids will have a lifetime of enjoyment out there.
Golf is a game for a lifetime, but an early start is better. - VNS