How Many Golf Lessons do you Need?

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How Many Golf Lessons do you Need?: Introduction

A beginner might find a short series of three or four lessons sufficient to cover all the basics and allow them to enjoy the game. A more accomplished player might need only one lesson to fix a particular issue in their swing. Someone looking to do a complete swing rebuild may need many lessons over a long period of time. One of the more famous swing rebuilds was undertaken by Sir Nick Faldo with his teacher David Leadbetter. It took around three years to see the fruits of their labor!

How Many Lessons Does a Beginner Need?

Someone completely new to the game is advised to get at least one lesson to make sure they get most of the fundamentals correct. This is because once you’ve ingrained habits into your game it will be much more difficult to change them later if they impede your progress. Things like your grip, stance or posture.

If you are new to the game then you might want to brush up on your etiquette and also think about the equipment you’ll need.

These guys need a lesson
practice makes permanent!

What Will be Covered in a Lesson?

I don’t think I can stress too much the importance of having a good grip. Over the years I’ve seen a number of very odd grips and I’ve yet to see anyone play really well with one.

Aim is one area of the golf swing that tends to be forgotten. A good teacher will impress upon their students the importance of working on making sure that your aim is correct. Even the best rifle in the world won’t hit the target if it is not aimed at the target!

You need a solid base to make a good golf swing. Your stance is the foundation upon which your swing is built. During any series of lessons, a teacher is going to point out whether your stance is helping or hindering your game.

Posture is the final piece of the jigsaw. You often find many new golfers will be standing up too straight or bending over too much. This will make it difficult to turn their upper body correctly.

These four areas are often called GASP: grip, aim, stance and posture. If a beginner can get these four areas right then they will be well on their way to playing some good golf.

Most professionals would only cover one or two items in any one lesson. It would usually be pointless to cover more as people would get confused with all the information.

It is also important to remember, particularly as a beginner, that you need to practice what is being covered in the lesson. If you have not managed to put into practice the items discussed before your next lesson then you are guilty of building on foundations of sand.

Remember that not every aspect of the lesson will require you to visit the driving range or golf course in order to practice it. There are many aspects of your game, particularly as a beginner, that you can practice while sitting watching the TV or in your back garden.

For someone completely new to golf I would suggest 2 to 4 lessons to cover the basics. The student would need to commit a certain amount of time between lessons to practicing what they had been taught.

Unfortunately, I was unable to afford lessons when I first started playing. I had to make do with borrowing an instructional book from my local library. It was written by the PGA Professional and BBC TV commentator Alex Hay.

It must have been a pretty good book as I was playing off a handicap of 14 within a couple of years and for the last 20 have been playing off five or six. This was despite one of my teachers’ end-of-year reports for PE stating that he “tries hard in a subject that he finds difficult”.

I do sometimes wonder if I’d been able to afford lessons at the outset whether I might be a better player.

Child practising chipping
practice makes permanent!

How Many Lessons to Fix a Fault?

Experienced golfers might only use a professional when they develop a fault in their game which they are unable to correct themselves. Depending upon the nature of the fault this might be fixable with only one lesson and a number of practice sessions to ingrain the fix.

A more fundamental issue might require a short series of lessons in order to remove it from your swing.

How Many Lessons to Rebuild a Swing?

You might as well ask how long is a piece of string. If you are looking at complete swing reconstruction you are looking at a project that could take anywhere from 6 to 12 months. It may take more time than that depending upon your current standard and the standard you are trying to achieve.

Sir Nick Faldo took around 3 years to reconstruct a swing that had seen him win multiple tournaments on the professional tours. He did this because he believed he needed to make major improvements to achieve his ultimate goal of winning major championships. Despite a number of vocal doubters he did manage to accumulate a total of six majors.

Are Golf Lessons Compulsory?

No, there is nothing in the rules of golf that says you have to have lessons to play. Only around 15% of golfers have lessons. Many famous golfers are self-taught for example Bubba Watson. Lee Trevino is another who eschewed lessons. He spent some time with Gary Player working on his bunker technique but apart from that, he was self-taught.

There is no such thing as natural touch. Touch is something you create by hitting millions of golf balls.

Lee Trevino

How much time do you have to practice?

If you have little time to practice what your teacher is trying to instill then it may be pointless actually having lessons. Like any skill, golf requires practice in order to improve. If you have little or no time or little or no enthusiasm then you may find lessons will be an expensive waste of time.

It is also important to make sure you are practicing the right way. If you are working on the wrong things or you are practicing them in the wrong way then that is not going to lead to the results you want.

Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect.

Vince Lombardi

Individual Lesson or Group Lessons?

When most people think of a golf lesson they are thinking of one-to-one tuition with a golf professional. However many professionals will offer group coaching sessions for beginners, juniors or ladies.

You may find a group lesson a little less intimidating if you are new to golf. It would also be a good way to see whether you can get on with the pro and therefore go on to book some individual lessons with them.

How to Choose a Professional?

First and foremost you need to build some form of rapport with a professional. If you plan on taking lessons regularly with them then it is vital.

Even if you plan on having a number of lessons it might be best for you to just book one initially. This allows you to see if you get along and whether the professional’s style of teaching suits you.

Studies have shown that people learn in a number of different ways. Some are better at absorbing written materials while others are better at learning by example.

For example, if you are the sort of person who learns better visually then you might benefit from video lessons. You’ll be able to see your swing on the screen and then should help you see the problem.

I was shocked when I saw my swing on video the first time. In my head, I had a vision of my swing as a slightly flatter (and fatter) version of Ernie Els. In reality, I was a lot more like a flatter version of Jim Furyk.

How many golf lessons do you need
Get that takeaway right!

What Can you Learn in a Lesson?

Before booking any lessons you need to have a clear idea of what you want to achieve. If you are a beginner you might want to get an understanding of all the basics. At the end of a short series of lessons, you may want to be able to make a reasonable golf swing that propels the ball in the right direction.

Perhaps you want to learn how to hit specific types of shots or to improve your distance with your driver.

Another area I haven’t covered so far is the short game and putting. Many people tend to associate having lessons with their long game. In fact, most golfers will be better off having lessons on their short game as that is likely to be the quickest way to improve their scores.

This is an area that you see tour pros focusing more on over the last few years. A number of short game or putting coaches have become increasingly well known for their work on tour. Stan Utley, Dave Stockton, Dave Pelz and Paul Hurrion for example.

Conclusion

You should now have a much better idea of how often you should be taking lessons and why. If you are an experienced golfer and playing at a level you feel happy with then you probably have no need for lessons.

As a beginner lessons can make the game much more enjoyable since you’ll spend less time looking for balls in the rough.

Related:

Swing Plane Training Aids

FAQ

Can Golf Lessons Make You Worse?

In a word yes. If you are taking lessons to fix a fault or otherwise improve your game then in the short term you may get worse. The most obvious example is the professional pointing out that your grip is wrong. Trying to get used to a new grip will probably take quite a while and you may find in the intervening period that your game suffers.

How Long Should Golf Lessons be?

An individual lesson at a driving range or practice area will probably take between 20 and 40 minutes. It is unlikely for a professional to spend more than about 40 minutes because there will be too much information delivered. You will almost certainly suffer from information overload with longer lessons.

If you have booked a group session then that might last up to an hour but obviously, there will be a limit to how much will be covered in that time.

A nine-hole playing lesson is likely to take a couple of hours. You’ll probably be asked to hit a variety of shots in different scenarios so the pro can explain how you might improve.

Are Golf Lessons Expensive?

Another one of those “it depends” answers I’m afraid. Booking your child into a group session for juniors might only cost $5 or £5.

Adult group lessons will cost around £10 or $10 each or a series of 4 group lessons might cost as little as £25 ($30). An individual lesson is likely to cost £25-£30, ($30-$40).

A video lesson or one involving a  is likely to cost a bit more.

A playing lesson for nine holes could easily cost you £100 ($125-$150). You could book yourself a 9 hole playing lesson at Torrey Pines for only $350!

A more experienced professional or one with a bigger reputation will undoubtedly cost more. If you want to book lessons with the likes of David Leadbetter or Butch Harmon then you are looking at many thousands of dollars for a session.

How Can I Find a Pro?

Probably the easiest way is just to type “golf lessons near me” into Google. If you are a beginner you can then discuss whether that professional offers the sort of lesson you want. Group lessons, individual lessons or playing lessons.

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