If you love golf as much as we do, you’ll probably agree that teaching someone else to play the game is a special opportunity.
Many of the little nuggets of wisdom and exercises you give to a beginner will imprint on their memory and flash in their mind for years to come every time they take position on the fairway and wind up for a swing. Your love for golf might inspire them to also love it for the rest of their life.
But golf is also a tricky sport. In a game where in the slightest shift of your weight or tilt of a club can wreak havoc how do you even begin to teach golf to someone new or less experienced? The following five tips will help you encourage and empower a new golf player to learn and progress as quickly as possible.
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Tip #1: Make Sure Your Golfer Has the Right Equipment
Having the right clubs is the first step to a successful learning experience. Your golfer should ideally get a full set of clubs; it may be a few weeks(months even) before they start using all of them, but every golfer moves at a different pace, so it’s nice to have them just in case. Make sure they don’t buy a brand new expensive set of clubs though. Beginner clubs should be high-quality but affordable, and most of all, forgiving.
You may want to provide them with a simple golf glove, especially since new golfers are more easily prone to blisters.
Golf shoes are a good idea, but if these aren’t financially an option just make sure they have something that won’t tear up the course. Get shoes that also provide maximum grip.
Tip #2: Build a Foundation of Fundamentals
90% of a good golf swing depends upon very basic fundamental patterns and habits. To effectively teach golf, before you tee off, make sure your student gets a good understanding of the concepts below.
First, Gauge What the Student Already Knows
It’s smart to learn what your student already knows about golf and what they still have to learn. We’ve all had the experience of hearing a teacher drone on about something we already know, and a quick jaunt down that memory-lane should remind you that that’s not a mistake you want to make.
- The Stance
Have your golfer stand shoulder width the part, with the hips facing 90 degrees towards the target. Their feet don’t have to be rigid, they can even point a little outwards too. The knees should be slightly bent in an athletic stance, but the golfer should feel relaxed.
- The Grip
The grip is arguably the most important part of one’s golf game.
Have your golfer pick up a club and get set in their golf stance. Ask them to pay attention to how the club feels in their hands. If there is any tension in their grip, eliminate it. White knuckled golfers will never get the results they’re looking for. If your hands, neck or any other part of their body hurts they’re probably gripping the club too tight, bending too far over, or doing something they shouldn’t.
The clubface should be square to the ground, horizontal and about waist level. They should only have to bend over just slightly. More than a couple of inches and their clubs are probably too small.
For right handed hitters, the left hand is the foundation of the swing. Have them place the left hand on the grip, fingers relaxed and spread apart. The handle should rest on the left palm so as to make a diagonal across their fingers.
Ask the golfer to close their left hand. It should rest near the top of the club, so the top of the handle is visible, but only slightly.
When the student does this, the hands and the forefinger should form a V.
Good alignment can lower scores, bad alignment breaks clubs. Have your golfer get into their stance. Stand behind them gently prompting them to initiate the backswing using hip rotation rather than just arms. During the downswing, micro adjust their arms to fit a “V” shape, and then follow through the ball. Here are a few drills to help them maintain good alignment.
Drill #1: The Swing Path Fix
- Place a club on the ground in front of the left foot
- The club should point down the target line
- Have the instructor step on the clubhead so the shaft comes up
- Make some swings without hitting the shaft
- If they feel they are coming too far from the inside and not from the top, try this drill but with the club near the right foot
Drill #2: Pressure Drill
- Take an alignment stick and set it on the ground
- Align the golfers club in the middle of it
- Have them initiate a backswing
- As they begin the downswing, slow it down
- At contact, position the body so that the top hand is ahead of the clubface
Drill #3: The Transition Step
- Have the golfer set up the golf ball and stand with their feet together
- Put their lead leg back about a foot
- At the apex of the backswing, prompt them to step with the front foot, push down and swing all the way through
- Ask them if they notice the shift from the back foot to the front foot in weight
Tip #3: Be Patient
Golf can be a lot to take in at first. The culture, the manners, the environment, and so many moving parts can leave any first-timer wondering if they made a mistake coming out in the first place. As their mentor, you play a huge role in helping them progress and ultimately learn to love the game. Take lots of water breaks and do what you can to help your student feel comfortable. Remember, students learn better if they’re having a good time. Teachers who come across as impatient, annoyed, or frazzled will not only give their students a bad experience, but may scare away new golfers from the game for good. So be patient!
The Bottom Line
Teaching golf is harder than you’d think. A good instructor not only plays well on the course, they know the game and the skills associated with it well enough to be able to explain it simply. Spend ample time on the course and at the driving range to develop the self awareness you need to effectively transfer your knowledge to your students. They will thank you for your effort to explain the game and hopefully feel your contagious love for it!