Historically golf professionals have been appointed into positions as club professionals or teaching professionals at golfing facilities throughout the world. And having received a certain amount of training are now free to help golfers improve.
The sad statistic is that golfers are or have not improved now for many years and a quick search on the internet will find figures quoted of over 50 years since the average handicap came down.
I do not have all the answers and I can only share my experiences as a golf coach since I turned professional in 1985. Having decided that I wanted to play golf rather than coach golf, the coaching side became a means by which I could support my playing career. I discovered that I could communicate well with the individuals who came to see me to improve and that I could adapt their golf swing based on my swing knowledge gained from my PGA Training to get them to hit the ball better.
Whether this was by chance or good luck I do not know, I could just do it. As my playing career failed to flourish I embarked on becoming a club professional and automatically I was called upon by club members to help improve their golf games. This I was able to do and although I did not study the golf swing I found I was able to suggest the "right" things the golfer needed to do.
Although successful as a coach there were limitations and golfers did not improve as quickly as I would have liked as it seemed the learning would only take place during the actual coaching session. I decided that there mst be another way and after attending a seminar in 2001 at the Belfry titled 'The Art and Science of Coaching' my own journey would really begin in the world of golf coaching.
Having met Kendal McWade (Instinctive Golf) and Karl Morris and Jamie Edwards (Trained Brain) I began to look at the golfer in a very different way. I started to look at each individual as a person who already possessed the skill they needed, the challenge was to draw out this skill and to let it flourish.
This moment changed my approach and was to change the way I was to look for answers for the next few years. My discoveries were not made in the world of golf by studying swing manuals, they were made in the worlds of Personal Development, NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming), Hypnosis, Communication and Public Speaking. Each of these disciplines, as I studied them, gave me an insight into the people I was working with and the potential they possessed.
It was not a question of sharing information about a movement that mattered, it was more a case of how you shared the information and indeed what information you needed to share at that moment in time. The golfer needed a way to go away from the session and continue to learn, from every shot if possible, and to maintain a good attitude during the whole process as it evolved.
You see, the thought of a golfer making a phone call to a golf professional locally, who he/she has never met and turning up for a golf lesson and that professional being able to share the information necessary for the golfer to improve in that session is ridiculous.
Understanding the individual, their needs as a golfer, their personality, their job, how they process information, their background are all essential pieces to the puzzle that cannot be understood in a short time and gathering some of this information is essential to a golfer moving forward and improving.
Any coaching process needs to start with some sort of appraisal or assessment. As coaches we need to find out as much information as possible about the person we are about to spend time with and as the player you should find out who you are going to pay money to to improve your game.
The biggest challenge is that after and in-between each session when improvement has been made is to have process that will keep the golfer on the "right track" so that learning can continue.
Over the last few weeks I have had several golfers who have been playing the game for several years who have not improved and have been to several different coaches over those years and have said "Why has nobody mentioned these things to me before?" "Is it really that simple?" my answer as always is "YES".
As a golf coach I decided that I needed to be adaptable to meet the needs of the players I was working with and that they should not have to change to meet my style of coaching. Change does happen, the difference is we go about change in a completely different way to many academies, by discovering what you know about your golf and the shots you play and then by asking if you can do things in a different way. Your discovery is guided by us and we will help you improve.
I cannot say how long any coaching program needs to last. I know from my own experience that I am learning something new every single day and that the more I explore then the more I discover. Over the last 12 months at our academy the golfers who have made the most improvement have been the golfers who have continued the process of learning. A coaching session every 3-5 weeks has enabled them to explore and discover what works for them and it gives me a the opportunity to really find out who they are.
Our aim is to give you the tools to continue your learning in-between sessions, as we cannot be there all the time. The process we follow is our 'Golfing Success in 4 Steps' which we guarantee will make a difference and you will view you game in a completely different way.
Before you decide where you want to go for your golf learning, do some research, find out about your potential coach, ask questions, just because he/she is the coach at your club does not ensure they are the best coach for you. What have they studied to help them develop as a coach and just because they have coached for a long time does not make them a good coach. They should offer a 'risk free' appraisal which is not only for them to get to know you, but also for you to decide if they can help you.
The answer to the title question for us at Westwood Golf is "Absolutely YES" the issue is it doesn't happen everywhere.
Until next time enjoy your golf!