What to Expect When You Sign Up for Golf Lessons

Amateur golfer gets a lesson
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(Editor's note: Are you interested in golf lessons, but have some trepidation because you don't know what to expect? This Golf Lessons Primer explains how your first session with a teaching pro might go, and how your golf lessons might progress over time if you sign up for a series. Michael Lamanna is the Director of Instruction at The Phoenician in Scottsdale, Ariz., and he explains here how he structures sessions for both beginners and more accomplished golfers.)

Anatomy of Golf Lessons

Each instructor has his own format for a lesson. While there may be some variation from coach to coach, I use the following steps — taking approximately the first 10 minutes of the session — with new students.

  • Introduction. Students are often intimidated by PGA pros, so I try setting the student at ease and developing a rapport prior to the session. This leads to more effective communication between me and my student.
  • Background information. This information includes: Previous golf and sports history; previous injury history; simple movement screens to detect physical limitations; previous instruction history; goals for golf.
  • Specific golf information. This includes: examination of the golfer's equipment; ball flight characteristics; determining how far the golfer hits each club; strengths and weaknesses in the various aspects of golf; practice habits; motivation for playing golf (competition vs. hobby vs. spouse activity, etc.); motivation for taking golf lessons.
  • Set an objective for the session. At this point, I help the student formulate a stated goal by asking them to answer the following question: "Over the next hour, what specifically would you like to accomplish?"

I next analyze the student's technique. I watch the student hit shots with various clubs so that I can see them perform the swing or stroke. I will typically video the student so that I can more clearly see movements and detect swing flaws.

Explanation, error correction and wrap-up make up the last portion of the session. In this phase, I explain what the student needs to change to accomplish their desired correction. I have the student make practice swings to feel the change, then we transition into actual ball striking. At the end of the session, I summarize the information, re-film the student and send them home with notes and a video analysis of the session.

More advanced, experienced golfers generally want error correction and this can usually be accomplished in one to three lessons over several weeks. For those who desire a complete game makeover, I suggest several series of five golf lessons with a custom curriculum over the course of a few months. I develop a practice plan and communicate with the student on a regular basis to monitor progress.

Golf Lessons Series for Beginners

For beginning golfers I always start with the same pre-lesson interview. I then explain the game and the equipment and the learning process. I suggest the following 5-lesson format:

  • Lesson 1: I begin the lesson with a tour of a hole and give an overview of the rules. I then help them understand the equipment and how each club is used to control distance and trajectory. We then cover putting basics. Through putting, I introduce the basic posture and alignment skills that will be used for all shots. I always assign practice drills for clubface control, stroke path and tempo.
  • Lesson 2: I review putting and then cover the basics of chipping. The most important concepts here are the importance of the grip for face control and compression (hitting down on the ball to make it go up). Once the student understands compression, they will be able to get the ball in the air. I assign them a simple chipping and putting game for a practice exercise.
  • Lesson 3: I review chipping and then cover pitching. The pitch stroke involves added power from wrist hinge and requires body rotation toward the target on the forward swing and a grip that produces a square face at impact. These are key elements that will help in the full swing. Usually the practice assignment here involves toe-up to toe-up swings and the L-drill.
  • Lesson 4: We cover full-swing fundamentals for irons, hybrids, fairway metals and driving. Ball position, posture and alignment are paramount to ball striking, so I introduce the use of a practice station that indicates ball position and alignment.
  • Lesson 5: We go on the course and play one or two holes. During this session I cover pre-shot routine, uneven lies, strategy and shot selection. I also go over basic rules and etiquette.