PGA professional Barney Puttick explains how you can get the most from a lesson

1. Whatever your ability, a lesson is worth it

The big worry for a lot of people is whether they are good enough to have a golf lesson and that the pro will be a really good player. But a pro's training will mean that you can talk on an equal footing and one guarantee is that your PGA pro will have received some really comprehensive training. It’s a bit like going to see a doctor, you’re buying into that qualification and he/she will have a huge amount of skills. 

2. There will always be a plan

You will follow a systematic approach to your game rather than tip search. I must get five calls a week about something that someone's seen on YouTube and they’ll be a bit confused. You will get some sound fundamentals by seeing a PGA professional.

You will also get a systematic approach to how you can practise. For example one thing that I like to tell my students to break a bucket of balls into two; one for your block or technical practice where you can work on a drill with no thought of targets, and the second half with no more than two balls in a row to a target. 

And we can look at skills outside the swing like your pre-shot routine which a lot of players don’t do. Even someone who freewheels it like Fred Couples does same thing on every shot with his shirt, the way he lifts his left arm up, that practice half swing before then hitting it.

3. Where it can work better than YouTube

There are some great generic tips online but, in terms of your body shape, moulding a golfer is like moulding a piece of clay. Look at some of the the top players in the world; Jon Rahm has a short backswing while Kiradech Aphibarnrat (pictured), one of my favourites, is well past parallel in his backswing – both have had regular instruction and very successful careers. A good pro will work with what you’re got. YouTube offers generic advice but it doesn’t necessarily fit you. 

And there’s your learning style – some people are artists and some are scientists and it’s blending into your style. Even after 40 years of coaching I still find this fascinating – I teach an engineer who is all about angles and I also teach a carpenter and he is all about feel.

A qualified pro will give you a relevant drill for your issue. Instruction is about blending to a student and signing up with someone who will work with your abilities and weaknesses and not teaching a certain method. And it's about increasing your knowledge so that you can practise better and have something positive to work with. 

4. All aspects of your game covered

The bulk of the short-game lessons that I give would be single-figure players, elite players and pros. The higher handicappers always want to improve their swing and ball striking and, after a lesson or two, I will ask how their short game is and we’ll look at that. This is the quickest way to save yourself some shots. A good pro will cover all the angles, the old-school lesson of hitting a load of 7-irons just doesn’t happen any more. 

5. Two-way communication 

I used to do notes for my my students and send them videos, I now like them to make notes and to share them with me. I have found over a period of time, if I spoon feed them stuff, there is more chance of them ignoring it. I want to hear what a drill feels like for them and what the they think is happening.

Nick Faldo would always say that he was leading with his left side as that’s what we were all taught while Seve Ballesteros would always say that he would hit it as hard as possible with his right arm. Neither were right or wrong, that’s what they felt. So a good pro will want a player to be able to explain what they are feeling. It’s not one size fits all when you’re thinking about your swing.

About Barney Puttick

Barney turned professional in 1979 and worked under Ian Connelly who was best known as Sir Nick Faldo's original coach.

He was once tied for third with Greg Norman in a 36-hole tournament in Cannes, behind Corey Pavin. He has been the head professional at Mid Herts Golf Club since 2000, he has given over 45,000 lessons and he is a Golf Monthly Top 50 coach. 

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