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7 reasons why sometimes, golf lessons “don’t work”


“Golf is the most over-taught and least-learned human endeavour; if they taught sex the way they teach golf, the human race would have died out years ago.” – Jim Murray

By Ian Hardie

One of the ironies of the game of golf is that a lot of golfers leave the golf course each time that they play in a worse mood or state of mind, than they were in when they arrived.

Something that’s a bit odd, when you consider that (in theory) they are there playing the game simply to be able to relax and have fun away from all of the other things that they have going on in their lives.

The reason that this comes about, as you may be aware, is that they don’t play as well as they would have hoped or expected to and as a result they become:

Frustrated, angry and embarrassed about their performance on the golf course.

For the vast majority of these golfers, those things could be alleviated by doing the one thing that most better golfers do – which is to have golf lessons.

Unfortunately though, the general consensus among a lot of these golfers is that they won’t bother with golf lessons – as they “don’t work”

Well at least, that’s what some other golfer has no doubt told them at some point.

The reality is though (as any competent golfer can tell you) that golf is actually an easier and more fun game to play when the golfer knows what they are doing and is able to do it reasonably consistently

However, even though I do my very best with every golfer that I help to make sure that they do in fact achieve better golf after each session that they have with me, I am aware that for a lot of golfers around the world – that isn’t always the result that they get.

So, let’s take a look at the 7 reasons why sometimes, golf lessons “don’t work”.


Number 1 – The teacher has failed to find the actual problem or isn’t skilled enough to work it out.

Now, I know that this first one could be a bit controversial but let’s face it, just as there are many examples in any other area of your life – there are going to be people who teach the game of golf who for one reason or another – simply aren’t as skilled at it as their qualifications or memberships would have you expecting them to be.

Any of you reading this who have ever had a car that wasn’t going well and as a result had to take it to three or four garages (at great expense) before you finally found a mechanic who was able to quickly identify and solve your problem – will know what I’m talking about.

As will people who have had medical issues that took some time and a few different expert’s opinions to get past – until you found someone effective to help you.

The reality is that qualifications, experience or belonging to a particular industry group – doesn’t always mean that the teacher is effective or even able to find the actual problem that a golfer has.

Be prepared to look for someone else to help you if that’s the case.


Number 2 – The student has a physical or medical problem that they won’t relate that is affecting everything.

Any golfer that has golf lessons from me will be able to tell you that when we first meet and from time to time after that, I will ask questions about things like hip, knee or back problems in an effort to ascertain whether their golf problems are stemming from something medical as opposed to their skills at the game.

I will also ask about their eyesight (this thing is a big one), the effect of any new glasses they are wearing and occasionally I will ask about medication changes if I’m aware that they are on a few.

This is necessary as more often than not, those health related items are a contributing factor to the problems the golfer has with the game – for example:

An injured hip or knee may restrict the amount of lower body movement for the golfer

A change in eye glasses will usually result in a change of head position (especially if they change to graduated lenses) which can lead to a problem with this.

There are many health related things that can affect your golf game and if the teacher that you go to doesn’t ask you about them – you could spend an awful lot of time and money fixing a ‘golf problem’ that really is just a health problem.


Number 3 – The student hasn’t understood what’s been suggested or hasn’t sought clarification if they were unsure and as a result ‘heads off in the wrong direction.’

The reasons that golf lessons sometimes “don’t work” are not only down to the teacher of course, quite frequently the problem is caused by the inability of the student to ask for clarification on what it is they are being shown if they aren’t sure.

I recall showing a golfer a practice drill many years ago that had them hitting some small shots with one leg crossed over the other in an effort to adjust what was happening in their golf action.

Having sent the golfer away to practice this for a few weeks, I was puzzled when they came back for their next lesson complaining about having an even worse problem than they started with – until I asked them to show me what they had been practicing – which turned out to be exactly the opposite of what I had shown them to do.

When I asked why that had happened, the golfer told me that they couldn’t remember which leg to cross over the other one and as a result had done quite a lot of practice with the way that felt easiest.

A simple phone call or question afterwards would have stopped that problem!

The golden rule is, if in doubt “ASK” – don’t continue on with something that you aren’t sure about – any good golf teacher is more than happy to answer questions at any point during the golf lesson or afterwards.


Number 4 – The teacher hasn’t communicated well during the lesson or outlined the necessary steps to take after the lesson.

Sure, a lot of golf teachers are very nice people, who may have had a lot of time in the game or done a lot of study into the technical aspects of the game but that doesn’t always mean they are able to communicate that knowledge well during the golf lesson or be able to summarize what’s happened during it to be able to provide a clear path and action plan for the golfer to follow until next time.

If the golfer walks away from the lesson confused by the terminology used or unsure as to what they need to do to improve – then they have pretty much wasted their time and money.

Ultimately, an experience like that could confuse them and affect their golf game so much that they do in fact get worse after the golf lesson – something that shouldn’t happen at all!


Number 5 – The student never intended to do anything afterwards, rather they were expecting that single lesson to eliminate their many years of golf problems without any further effort.

So, while three of the first four reasons that golf lessons sometimes “don’t work” can be easily attributed to the teacher – the fifth one, which is probably the most common – is always a problem with the student.

Well, maybe not so much the actual student, it’s more about their expectations of what the result of the lesson will be.

Read this next bit very carefully:

A single golf lesson is extremely unlikely to eliminate 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 30 or even 40 years of accumulated golf problems without any further effort on the student’s part.

Expecting that to be the case is the main reason why this problem even exists!


Number 6 – Other golfer’s comments may be sufficiently influential, that the student quickly abandons the ideas introduced during the lesson if it doesn’t immediately enhance their game.

Occasionally though, it’s an outside influence that can cause this problem, as quite frequently the golfers that the student plays with most often are usually well aware that they are going for a golf lesson or two.

As soon as the golfer hits a few poor shots on their very next game – instead of realising that it takes some time, effort and application to improve on the students part – the other golfers will be very quick to observe that ‘the lesson hasn’t worked’.

The end result will be that the student will give up trying to do what they understood that they needed to do from the lesson and instead just go back to what they did before.

Eventually, they become the person who tells other golfers that golf lessons “don’t work”!


Number 7 – Implementation is generally the missing link.

As I said just above, the reality is that even if the teacher can identify the students problem, understands their current physical capability, the student is clear on what they need to do and the steps they need to take to do it – there is still one vital part of the golf lesson process that the student needs to follow.

They need to spend some time and effort implementing the ideas they were given into their golf game in order to improve.

There are no shortcuts on this part unfortunately.

Which is where most students who go for a golf lesson or two seem to fall down – they know all of this new and exciting stuff but instead they do the same things that they have always done.

As a result, they get what they have always got and end up continuing on the mind-set that a lot of golfers have that golf lessons “don’t work”.

Let’s hope that from now on, you understand enough about it not to be one of them.

Play well


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