Are you a golf teacher or a golf coach?’
A while back, I had a golfer approach me looking for some help with their golf game, who asked me the question above, that at the time I thought, was a fairly odd question.
After giving it a bit of thought, I replied ‘even though I was trained as a golf teacher, many years of experience assisting all levels of golfer from beginner through to high performance have seen me adapt that position somewhat and the way that I assist golfers now, depends entirely on what the golfer that in front of me requires over their whole game to help them achieve what they want to long term – so, I suppose that makes me a golf coach.’
I can only assume that the golfer was satisfied with that answer, as we have regularly spent some time each month working together on their golf game since then but it wasn’t until recently, that I found out why the golfer had asked me that particular question.
It turned out that like a lot of golfers around the world, the golfer had been so influenced by the myriad of information and opinions out there about the ‘golf swing’ (a term I don’t use as you can read here) they thought that the only way their golf game was going to improve was through taking golf lessons to make sure that their technique was matched to some mythical perfect ideal that they had decided was the main requirement to play good golf.
To make that happen, the golfer had previously found a golf teacher who had done what many golf teachers around the world do every day – recorded hours of video of the golfer hitting many different full shots from multiple angles, created a mountain of data using their ball flight radar system, then compared all of that to what they considered to be perfection and as (unsurprisingly) the golfer wasn’t doing exactly that.
Was able to provide the golfer with a very large list of things that needed to be ‘fixed’.
Sent away to spend many hours working through a bunch of drills that were going to ‘fix their poor technique’, the golfer had done exactly what was asked of them only to find that with each game of golf that they subsequently played.
The golfer played worse and worse and worse…………….
As you can imagine, the golfer began to wonder why they were working so hard on their golf game yet getting worse.
As well as thinking ‘why even have golf lessons if this is going to be the result?’
Unfortunately, the golfer is not alone in experiencing this sort of thing with golf teaching and for most golfers around the world, that’s a pretty typical result of getting golf lessons on your full golf swing (darn, I had to use that word then!) only.
However, that sort of teaching is unlikely to improve your golf game very much!
So, what are the 7 reasons you need a golf coach and not a golf teacher?
First, the golf coach will look at all of the things that contribute to your entire golf game – not just your full shots – such as your skills in all areas of the game, your mental game, how you practice, how you apply yourself to each game, fitness and nutrition (usually working with a specialist for that), your equipment, the level you would like to work towards long term and the time you have available to you each week for golf.
Second, the golf coach will help you to accurately assess your ability in each skill area of the game either by watching you practice or play on the course, getting you to regularly complete skills tests, tracking all of your rounds of golf and measuring key areas of your game to chart your progress or highlight any problems that are developing.
Third, the golf coach will design a clear outline that they will go over with you, to work towards the level you would like to achieve long term and a timeline to enable you to accomplish that improvement.
Fourth, the golf coach will meet with you regularly to guide you in the development of your whole golf game and design practice sessions (if necessary) that will challenge you to push beyond your current skills – which is how humans learn best.
The last three are probably the biggest differences between the golf teacher and the golf coach – as well as being the most important to be aware of!
Fifth, the golf coach’s focus is to use what skills and attributes you do have and find ways to help you to apply it to your game on the golf course to help you shoot lower scores – immediately.
Sixth, the golf coach will spend time with you on the golf course and not just the range. Let’s face it, golf is a game that is played on the golf course (not a range) and in order for you to improve the coach must be able to assist you to transfer all of your skills to the golf course, as well as being able to help you with the many nuances of the game that can only be learnt on the golf course.
Seventh, the golf coach will have the skills and experience to assist you to identify and work on your mental processes both on and off the golf course, work with you to be able to apply those things to the pressure situations that you can experience while playing golf – all while assisting you to continue to find the enjoyment in the game that you play it for.
So, do you need a golf teacher or a golf coach?
Well, if you are looking to learn the game, refresh your basic skills or wanting to improve one specific area of your game – then as a Golf Teacher I’d suggest that you take some golf lessons with me.
However, if you are really serious about playing better golf and have a specific goal or handicap target in mind, then as a Golf Coach I’d suggest that you are best to look at working on your golf game over a longer period of time and talk to a Golf Coach that will be as invested in your success, as you are in playing your best golf.
It’s the only way to experience what you are truly capable of doing on the golf course and of course, your first question needs to be.
“When do we start working together Ian?”
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