My Lesson Process

My Lesson Process

 
By: Nick Bockenfeld, PGA

6 Minute Read

 

My thought process and Steps during a typical lesson

As a PGA Class A Member, I was trained and went to school to learn how to run golf courses and give lessons. The big goal for any PGA Member is to grow the game of golf; it's why we all do what we do. However, giving lessons is different for everyone. While I would consider myself to be an expert in the game of golf and an expert when it comes to the golf swing, I am certainly no master at giving lessons. I do have a process, and once you’ve seen someone more than once, that process can be different; however, the steps and thoughts during a first lesson are generally the same. You get a feel for the player, build a relationship with them, and you break down their ball flight, and then find out what in their swing makes them do exactly what it is they do.

 

Get a Feel for your Player

Any time you give the first lesson, you ask a player to come in a little longer than just a normal hour for their lesson. This is so you don’t waste valuable lesson time learning about the player. It is best to get a background on your player before you start teaching them. I try to gauge their background in golf, their handicap, the best they have been, what they think their weak point is, if they play competitive, and most importantly, injuries. That is one of the first questions you ask, have you had any injuries that may affect your swing? The student almost always says no, and that isn’t good enough for me. I start asking about individual body parts, if they have any foot issues, ankle surgery in the past, or tightness in the knees or shoulders? Because the worst thing that can possibly happen is I force a student into a move they aren’t comfortable with, and they get hurt.

 

Warm-up

Once you feel you have a pretty good background on your new player, you know what they want to work on, and you have them warm up while you watch every swing. I tend to watch ball flight and keep my mouth shut, only asking simple questions like is that miss a common one? If they miss a shot, you start getting an idea of what it is they do in their swing. During their warm-up, you get a pretty good idea of what they should be working on; watch the ball flight and work backward from there to find their swing flaws. You have to have an understanding of the golf swing to do this. You have to understand what may cause a person to hook or slice; that way, when you see that shot, you can start understanding why, so you can fix it. By the end of their warm-up session, you should have an understanding of what to work on, if you need to make a swing change, and how long it could take to master. One of the hardest things to do is make a major swing change and force the student to take five steps back just to get them swinging the way you want; I usually don’t recommend that. Remember, the goal is to grow the game, not make a student quit in frustration because they went from shooting 100 to 120 thanks to your lesson.

 

Laws of Ball flight and what they mean for a students impact position

The first thing you do is watch that ball flight, then understand why it is doing that. IF YOU DO NOT KNOW THE LAWS OF BALL FLIGHT, DO NOT GIVE TIPS ON SOMEONE’S GOLF SWING! That's pretty simple, and I will be really clear to all the range warriors; if you don’t have a true understanding of the laws of ball flight, shut the hell up. The laws are as follows; face determines where the ball starts, and path determines the trajectory after face. So face sends it, the path bends it. Those are the basics of ball flight laws, but it does go deeper than that. That is all assuming centeredness of contact. If you aren’t hitting the ball in the center, the laws are applied differently! Of course, if you have a launch monitor, this is all made 100000 times easier than if you don't. So once you understand what the ball is doing, you have a pretty good idea of where your student is at impact. Then you work backward. So your student’s face is wide open at impact; why?

 

My Process

So once I understand what the ball is doing and what that means for a student’s impact position, I try to understand why they are doing that. The first thing I tend to look at is posture, setup, and even the club. I understand more about the student. This is where knowing their injury history is a must. If a player is leaving their face dead open, and the path is left, so the ball is going way right, but sometimes he flips and hits it left, chances are his weight transition could be off, or maybe his stance is off. But I made his injury history; I know he has bad knees and cannot transition his weight properly, so he falls back on it. Well, now I can begin to work with him; I watched his ball flight, I watched his body for signs of that, and now I know what to work on; I also know no matter what I do, because of his bad knees, that transition is not going to get better. So I know we are going to have to work something crazy out, and there will be some trial and error. I have to work with what I have. Luckily, I understand that his path is going to have to change, and his ball position is going to be different from a player that can transition their weight properly. I know where to start because I’ve studied the game and the player and can begin to deduce what their problem is. It all starts with understanding his injuries and the laws of ball flight.

Once I have deduced the problem and decided on the fix, we are going to work on the fix together. Then I will give him drills to do, do the drills with him for the first time doing them. I also tend to sell them a trusty CTRL Swing Master Training Aid so that I can select well when he is doing the drills properly. Then my last ten minutes of the lesson is to schedule the next lesson, give him something to work on, and drills I expect him to do and how to do them. I usually then have the student summarize what they will work on, what they are going to be doing, then when they will come back.

 

Conclusion

Each lesson is different, but this is how I tend to give a lesson to my first-time students. The most important things are understanding the student, building a background on them, and taking notes, so you can read them before they come back to the next lesson. Then you know what they were supposed to work on.

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