May 4th was National Golf Instruction Day on the Golf Channel. As much as the Golf Channel communicates incorrect information about the golf swing, and despite employee commentators who regularly bash tour player’s golf coaches, I really appreciate the network honoring those who grow golf through instruction. The Golf Channel is a huge factor in the growth of the game, and I appreciate the network educating golfers that instruction is important.
However, some golfers have had really bad experiences during and after golf lessons. Guarantee some are my former students. Some golfers have had a great experience with golf lessons, and have found a golf professional or two that they trust. As much as I believe in myself as a coach, and as much as I am driven to become educated about all golf performance categories, I realize some lessons do not go as well as the student or myself would like. The good instructors win many more than they lose, but having an unsuccessful lesson or two happens.
I know that my studies of how people learn have helped me the most. If I can tap into how the student learns I can motivate him/her to work hard on any task moving forward. The key to being a good coach is to instill passion for the game in students, because passion leads to success in reaching goals. There are many layers topassion, but passion leads to all the other factors needed to be successful. My thoughts on better performance do not only pertain to the game of golf, but to all things in life.
As a coach we have many responsibilities towards a student; motivation, education, goal setting, making a plan, setting guidelines for accountability, use of technology, and more. Responsibilities even include firing a student who is unwilling to be accountable. Notice there is no mention of imposing ideals upon a student. If you know a coach is teaching every student the same technique…run!
However, students have the big responsibilities to reach their goals, and a good student takes on the most accountability. Performance is not all about getting the swing correct, that is actually a small portion of the performance pie chart. The student needs to come to the lesson with an open mind, practice, play, understand that sometimes feel is different than reality, give feedback of feels (which is important), take notes when practicing, have an understanding that performance is a multiple layer issue, and realize that a good coach is there to guide, not command.
I will preach this over and over, if you are looking to improve your golf game by taking lessons your expectation should be met. If you are going to one lesson with a goal to have your game reborn for tomorrow’s round, you will find yourself disappointed. Betterperformance is about improving in multiple categories, such as: mental, nutrition, skills, athleticism, proper body function, proper practice, tournament experience, etc.
Put the accountability on yourself to commit to as many items as you are willing to make time for. Find a coach who is educated in as many performance categories as possible, and build a team in all the categories your golf coach does not have covered. Find a coach who keeps better performance in the forefront of everything you do.
The really great coaches drive passion and accountability from individuals for long periods of time. For example, the coaches of the current top three players in the world. These players have been with their coaches since childhood. The coaches have been there to help them on their journey, not dictate their journey. This makes for a long lasting relationship.
Find a coach who you believe will help you meet your goals, and remember that you as a player also have responsibilities in the road to better golf performance.
Todd Elliott is the PGA Head Golf Professional for Hideaway Beach. Todd is TPI (Titleist Performance Institute) Certified as a golf professional. This gives him the ability to give golf specific physical screening to detect any physical limitation that might affect the golf swing. Todd is also a Coutour-certified putting fitter, a Titleist-certified fitter and a Titleist staff member. Follow Todd on Twitter @elliottgolfpro or for any question or comments email email@example.com.