Eventually after having had junior go through a few group golf lessons, a decision must be made whether they like the sport enough to want to get good or whether it is a pastime sport. Either way, the main person making this decision should be the junior golfer by him or herself. Should they want to pursue the former option it is probably time to find a private instructor. Here are a few suggestions to help you make the correct choice:
PGA golf instructors have been trained how to teach the game, so I would always ask for a PGA Professional instructor. There may be a few exceptions who are good teachers, but that is a bit like choosing an accountant who doesn’t understand a balance sheet.
Interview the teacher and ask about his or her philosophy. Ask about some of their successful students. Have junior take a lesson and watch how they interact. Is the communication one way or both ways?
Find out if the instructor researched the learning style of the student. Most people are visual learners but some learn better kinesthetically and a few are better auditory learners. In other words, seeing, feeling or hearing. I have a test I use to do this that I do in the first lesson.
Make sure that the teacher and student set goals together. These goals should cover practice time, play time and scoring goals. They need not be exact but they should be there. Some juniors are more naturally talented, but don’t fall into the trap of letting them control the plan. Some will take longer to achieve goals, but this may be due to dedication and practice.
Make sure junior understands the commitment needed to achieve competence in the sport. I have some students who are practicing and playing six or seven days a week. It is extremely unlikely that another golfer that hits for one hour and plays for two hours every week will get close to their more diligent peers.
Sit in on the occasional lesson (not every one) and try to get a grasp of what the teacher is trying to get the student to do. A good parent will reinforce these thoughts when playing with their child.
Lastly, do not teach the child yourself. You may be sabotaging the instruction of the teacher. Of course, if junior isn’t getting any better, you can always try a different teacher.
Next week – some teaching fundamentals that I use.
Ian Grant is a PGA teaching professional and a member of the teaching faculty of the PGA of America. He can be contacted at Oak Brook Golf Club 630-990-3032 in the summer and White Pines Golf Dome in Bensenville 630-422-1060 in the winter. You can contact Ian directly at 708-917-8951, or at Iansgolf@aol.com.