Dr. Sue Shapcott is here to give us three top tips for getting the most out of our golf lesson
There are lots of reasons golfers decide to take lessons. If golfers are new to the game, they may want to learn some fundamentals before adopting bad habits. Sometimes golfers are in a slump, and they need a hand getting out of it. Or maybe their performance has plateaued, and they need a little nudge. No matter what the reason, booking a golf lesson is a good decision.
Now obviously, if you want your golf game to improve, booking a golf lesson is just the start. Your golf will only improve if you attend the lesson prepared and ready to learn.
Here are my top three tips for getting the most out of your golf lesson:
1. What do you want to get out of the lesson?
Before the lesson, make a note of what you want to get out of the session. No matter who you are, and how well you play, you will only be able to process two or three teaching points (max!). So that means each teaching point is valuable. Unless you direct the lesson, you could walk away with swing corrections that don’t align with what you wanted from the session. Instead, be specific about what you want to learn.
For example, before your lesson you may tell your instructor, “I am a new golfer. I know I have lots to work on. But today I want you to give me TWO concrete things that will help me build swing fundamentals.” Or “I am skying the ball with my driver. I want to understand why I do that and two things to help me correct it.” Or “I can’t improve anymore because I don’t hit the ball far enough. I want to work on increasing my distance.”
2. Developing a learning mindset
Showing up with the right mindset is key. What do I mean by mindset? In this instance, I am referring to a phrase coined by educational psychologist Carol Dweck. Dweck demonstrated in her decades of research that how learners perceive a skill – in this case golf ability – affects whether they will develop the habits required to improve.
For example, if you show up at your lesson and your motivation is to demonstrate to your instructor how good you are and how much you know about the golf swing, you will probably get defensive when given feedback. You will probably interpret one bad shot as ‘evidence’ that you can’t make the corrections she/he is suggesting. And you will probably revert to your old technique after the lesson because you don’t want the swing changes to make you feel uncomfortable.
If, on the other hand, you show up for your lesson with a mindset that you are there because you want to learn, then you will be more receptive to feedback, you will probably ask important questions when you don’t understand your instructor, and you will embrace the difficulty of making technical adjustments because you know that is how you will improve. Bottom line. Adopt a mindset of learning rather than a mindset of knowing.
3. Ask questions
Don’t be afraid to ask questions when you don’t understand a point your instructor is making. Every question you ask is an opportunity to develop your schema (framework) about the golf swing. And the better schema you have about the golf swing, the easier it is to develop a mental representation of what you need to do to improve. And as the research tells us, a well-developed mental representation of the swing will help you incorporate changes more efficiently.
In addition to technical questions, ask your instructor how you should practice the changes she/he is making, when you should schedule your next lesson, or even why the instructor decided that you should change A and B instead of X and Y in your technique. Your instructor should enjoy being asked questions. I know I do. It means the golfer has come to the lesson ready to learn.
If you're not sure where to book a golf lesson, then it may be useful to check out the new Find a Golf Lesson website from The PGA - find out more here.
About Sue Shapcott, PhD, PGA GB&I
Dr. Sue Shapcott is a former tour player with a passion for helping recreational players reach their potential. She trained with the British PGA and spent five years developing technical expertise with Hank Haney in Dallas, Texas. Sue is also an educational psychologist and will sneak that into her advice. She is the owner of Change Golf Instruction in Madison, Wisconsin.
Contact Sue via email here.