New to golf? Hire a pro, take a lesson

Fall is the perfect time to get started learning and playing golf because the weather is cooler and the golf courses are in great shape. This gives you time to be able to learn how to play by the spring season.

First of all, the worst way to get started in golf is to go out and play without proper instruction. You will get disillusioned because the game is much harder than it looks. For starters, you will not know which club to hit for various shots.

My suggestion is to find a good golf professional.

In order to find the right golf professional for you, I suggest that before you take a golf lesson, you interview several professionals to find one that suits your goals, learning style and pocketbook.

The professional should also be interviewing you so that he or she can tailor the lessons to suit your needs. The pro should be asking:

  • Why do you want to play the game?
  • Are you willing to practice between lessons?
  • Do you have any physical limitations that could affect your golf swing?
  • Do you want to take a series of lessons covering all aspects of the game?

You should also look for a golf professional who has been trained to teach. Those who have enjoyed success in golf instruction haven't achieved it accidentally. Make sure the person you choose is an LPGA or PGA certified golf professional.

Golf professionals should use various methods of teaching, because students learn differently. Some are visual and enjoy mirrors or video analysis, while others are kinesthetic.

The professional should have several teaching aides on the lesson tee to help you feel the correct movement. You should also receive notes on what was covered and practice ideas.

Finally, make certain the teacher on whom you're going to spend your hard-earned money is an excellent communicator. If the teacher can get you to understand what you're attempting to do, you've found a teacher who can help you improve.

Here are some tips for taking a golf lesson:

  • Arrive at the lesson early.
  • Warm up before the professional gets there by stretching and hitting short shots.
  • Leave your stress and cell phone in the car.
  • Be open and receptive to trying new things.
  • Never say "can't" and realize that improvements are the result of diligent practice.

Dr. Jean Harris is an LPGA Master Professional and teaches at local courses. jean.golfdoctor.harris@gmail.com; golfdoctorjean.com


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