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Choosing a Golf Instructor

Bobby Jones, designer and founder of the Augusta National Golf Club and the Masters Tournament, has been widely quoted for saying, “Golf is the closest game to the game we call life. You get bad breaks from good shots; you get good breaks from bad shots—but you have to play the ball where it lies.” Many golfers agree with this sentiment, and often find themselves comparing golf to life or life to golf to get a point across. Today’s discussion is no different. In thinking about choosing the right golf instructor, it is helpful to think about how you choose to establish other professional relationships in your life.

Think for instance about how you go about choosing a doctor. Perhaps you first employed a little trial and error,  having been burned once or twice by an uncomfortable or dissatisfying experience. The next time you need a check-up, what do you do? You reach out to a few friends and ask for a recommendation. Or you may do some more research online and read reviews where available. Eventually, you find the right one. The doctor that you’re comfortable talking openly with, whom you trust, and whose advice you are willing to follow. The same goes for choosing your golf instructor.

Taking the analogy to the next level, think about why you are comfortable talking openly with your doctor; why do you trust him or her; and why are you willing to follow his or her advice?

Let’s start with the first—talking openly. Your doctor needs to be willing to let you talk. With some doctors, you can’t get a word in edgewise, or you do, but you can tell he doesn’t care about what you think. A doctor with whom you can speak openly is a good listener, interested in hearing what you have to say. Further, he can take a complicated subject and explain it simply. The same goes for your golf instructor. It is important to find a golf instructor who is a good communicator, capable of taking the complexities out of golf, and being comfortable enough with his golf knowledge that he need not wear it on his sleeve. He must be willing and able to listen to your thoughts and feelings about golf, and tune his instruction accordingly.  Being able to have an open line of communication between you and your golf instructor is essential.

Second—trust. Trust is an essential ingredient to any lasting relationship. When you don’t trust your doctor, you probably aren’t as open with her about health habits or issues. The same goes for a golf instructor. If you feel like your golf instructor is judgmental, is going to use you as the butt of his next golf joke with buddies, or is condescending, then you are not going to be comfortable asking questions or discussing the status of your game. Now, trust is the byproduct of time and effort, but a breach of trust can happen immediately. As a result, you should make sure you find a golf instructor whom you can trust in order to aid in the instructional process.

Third—willing to follow. Doctors are full of advice; it’s usually good advice that you would be wise to follow. The same goes for your golf instructor. This willingness to follow comes in part from trust, but also in respecting your instructor’s credentials and seeing results. It is essential you choose a golf instructor who not only understands the mechanics of a golf swing, but who has played the game at a very high level. Indeed, to excel on the golf course, help from a mentor who is not only skilled at swinging a club, but also at course management, mental preparedness, and physical fitness, is essential.

In sum, you need a golf instructor with whom you can communicate well, whom you trust, and whom you are willing to follow. You would be well served to review the biographies of the Bird Golf Academy instructors here. They are professionals in every sense of the word, having played golf at its highest level and taught at golf’s highest level as well. You wouldn’t choose a doctor who couldn’t ensure your good health; the same goes for your golf instructor and the strength of your golf game.