In a previous post I mentioned that the real catalyst for my return to golf (or really, the first serious attempt to play after dabbling a couple of times in my life) was a very special deal I saw at my local driving range.
The posters up all around the range clearly stated “Beginners’ lessons- £30 for six weeks”. I was slightly incredulous – everyone knows that golf lessons are expensive, how on earth could they offer such a deal?! I was intrigued so I asked in the pro shop and was duly informed that yes, the posters were absolutely correct. Of course they were group lessons but still, an opportunity not to be missed I thought! Apparently the cost of the course was subsidised by the English Golf Union as part of a drive to attract people (back) to golf.
So, I put my name down, left my phone number and a few days later I had a call to confirm the next course starting date a week or two later.
I have to say at this point that this was without a shadow of a doubt the best return on any money I have ever spent on golf!!!
During my periods of dabbling with the gowf over the years people frequently told me that the best way to improve your game was to have lessons. When I lived in Japan I was not confident that my Japanese was good enough to fully appreciate the details of lessons (this suspicion was borne out last year when I bought a couple of golf magazines in Japan and kept having to ask my wife “what’s this word?” – there’s a fair bit of specific vocabulary needed) so I hadn’t ever had any.
These, an hour once a week, six weeks of lessons were very much intended for people coming to the game with no experience so within the small group I was perhaps the most “accomplished” but I really did learn so much each time.
Rather than go into everything in detail (not that I can recall the lot anyway) I just want to say one thing to anyone starting golf or early in their journey: “if there is anyway that you can take lessons, then do so!” and “take as many lessons as you are able”.
Our coach Gareth was very patient, explained clearly and communicated his passion for golf in the way he approached our lessons. I guess I was lucky and not all coaches out there are as good (and given the deal I was especially lucky) so another point I might make is to research who will be teaching you and try and get the best that your budget can stretch to.
I went to the lessons for six weeks and I can honestly say that when I returned each week I was buzzing and enthused and looking forward to the next week’s lesson!
As just one little illustration, I had an epiphany moment with my grip. I had never really given my grip much thought – I can even remember skipping over parts of books that dealt with the grip thinking “that’s pretty obvious stuff”. However, I was to find, thanks to Gareth, that there were some serious issues with my grip.
I’m not sure if it was just something I did naturally when I was a kid or if someone (my brother??) had maybe shown me but I was holding the golf club in the palms of my hands with my thumbs on the top of the shaft, lined up. As anyone that has played a bit of golf will know, that is not a good way to hold a golf club!
The correct way to hold a golf club is of course in the fingers of your hand, not the palms! This was such a fundamental insight to me – I couldn’t believe I had been getting such a basic thing wrong all these years! In the weeks and months since that beginners’ course I have read many books and watched many videos that I’m sure I would have come to that realisation anyway but it was so motivating to learn such an important issue in the flesh!
So, again, if you can take lessons, do so! I know of at least one club near where I currently live that offers a similar type deal to the one I took last year and I think some councils offer similar “get into golf” courses so get Googling and find one near you.
And, if you are lucky enough to be able to afford one to one pro lessons (that is on my current wishlist), again do a bit of Googling and find the one with the best reputation (usually reflected in the hourly rate) that you can run to.