My introduction to golf as a woman was interesting. A friend and I created a sports bucket list one summer and learning to golf made the cut. Why? Why not! We came up with two options for learning the game: Option 1 – Show up at a course, rent some clubs and pay to play, or Option 2 – Take professional lessons. Option 1 was quickly dismissed, so I went in search of someone who could teach us to golf. I did an internet search for "golf lessons". Being sufficiently overwhelmed by the information that came back, I called a couple of local golf courses. The pro shop guys provided some good information, but the thought of simply showing up at a golf course was intimidating. After telling my best friend my golf plans, she suggested I try her husband’s golf instructor. Her husband had good things to say about his instructor, so I signed up for a lesson.
After that first hour and a half lesson, I was hooked. So much so that, on my drive home, I passed a different golf course and hit balls at the range for three more hours. I attribute this enthusiasm to two things: 1) it turned out that hitting golf balls was actually fun and 2) I took lessons from a good golf instructor.
Some women learn golf from their dad/brother/boyfriend/husband/guy friend. This can either be great fun or ruin a good relationship. YouTube videos and online tutorials are also really helpful, but there is no feedback. I have found professional golf instruction to be invaluable. The golf pro’s job during a lesson is to focus on you– your abilities, your issues, your goals. He or she finds out your golf knowledge and experience level, and then develops a lesson or series of lessons to help you learn and improve.
Lessons can cover more than just grip and swing. A good instructor will also explain golf rules, etiquette, club type, club selection, course layout and course management. I have taken lessons from different golf pros at different courses. Each had a slightly different style, but they all focused on where I was in my learning curve and my stated goals in order to structure lessons.
Practice in between lessons is beneficial, but it has its challenges. If I go to the range solo to practice and hit an errant shot, I often get of unsolicited advice from men within a 50 yard radius. After several minutes of rapid-fire suggestions from different people on grip types, foot placement techniques, form styles, and full vs. half swing debates, my good time is over. While I appreciate receiving advice from other golfers, on more than one occasion I have heard "I don’t do it, but you should try this technique." My thought is "If you aren’t taking your own advice, why are you suggesting I follow it?" Inevitably, even the unsolicited instructor will mention the value of taking lessons from a golf pro.
The cost of professional golf instruction starts at around $50 per hour for individual lessons. Some instructors offer discounted rates for small group lessons. Group lessons can be a lot of fun and are a great way to meet other golfers at your level and build up your network. A call to the local golf course pro shop is a great starting point for finding a golf pro. There is also an indoor facility called Golftec that uses motion sensors and video playback during the lesson. I am a visual learner when it comes to golf. My GolfTec experience was great. It was helpful to see my swing played back in slow motion video and analyzed from different angles during the lesson. Another cool feature was that I received a unique username and password to log onto their website, view your lesson, and hear tips from the instructor. I have been playing regularly for a couple of years now and still take lessons when I can to improve my game. I will never play professionally, but with quality instruction, I am learning to hold my own on the greens.