Student Isobel Schultz, left, chats with instructor Dr. Jean Harris before taking a playing lesson on the course. BETSY ROBINSON

There are different ways to take a golf lesson, the most common being on a driving range. You and your teaching golf professional  will cover the fundamentals, build a routine for playing shots, and you should learn techniques for the various golf shots.

A player should have lessons on their mechanics before they go out on the course. I hear all the time from students, “I hit it great on the range but can’t take it to the course.”

Golf is one of the only sports where you learn to play on a field that is different from the courses you will play on. The driving range is flat, yet golf courses have hills and uneven lies. On the range there are no consequences for a missed shot such as water, bunkers, out of bounds and lost balls.

I like my students to keep a few scorecards prior to our playing lesson where they keep track of fairways hit, clubs they hit to the green, how many shots it took to get on the green and the number of putts. This information will help me know what to spend the most time on during our playing lesson.

A playing lesson differs depending on your skill level. Beginners should spend time with aim and alignment, club selection, course management tips, and rules and etiquette. The more advanced player will want to work on situation-specific shots such as uneven lies, fairway bunkers and reading greens.

The coach should discuss your pre-swing routine. They will assess your aim and alignment to the target, the lie of the ball, wind direction, yardage to the hazards, and whether the flag stick is on the front, middle or back of the green. Your coach should look at your shot decisions, club selection and your shots into the green.

Talk to your golf professional and go over things you want covered during the playing lesson. Some suggestions are:

• How lie affects club selection and direction

• How wind affects your shot

• How to use a range finder

• Rules and etiquette

• Mental side of the game – reactions to shots played

• How to keep track of shots so you know how to practice after your round.

Ask your golf coach for a playing lesson when you feel ready to take it to the course.

Dr. Jean Harris is an LPGA Master Professional and teaches at local courses.;