By Robert Corbo, USGTF Master, Hamilton, New Jersey

The love of the game is the first requirement to become a proficient golf instructor. That should be the easiest part. Everyone in the business started playing golf and then learned to love it.

Through the process of learning, we spend countless hours studying the great players of the past, searching for knowledge on how they  improved their skills. We take lessons and learn how to practice and play the game. We learn that there are two parts to the golf swing. The  first part is when the brain is processing information. We learn how to make a rehearsal swing thinking about the motion. We then process  that thought into a feel and action. We are creating an overused voluntary response. This is what we refer to as muscle memory, but remember, it is a brain function.

The next thing we learn is to execute the golf shot. The brain must have something to do, so we create a pre-shot thought process that  triggers the ball execution. Golf instruction and execution is an integral part of the learning process. Competition is an experience that cannot only improve your own skills, but will offer insight to what your students are feeling under the same circumstances.

There is a distinct difference that separates your own personal techniques and the correct way of pure golf instruction. With the internet at your disposal, there is a lot of advice and information on the golf swing. A teacher must be familiar with both the science of the swing (ball flight laws, etc.) and how people learn.

Communication with the student is vital to their success. Verbal instruction, hands-on demonstrations, and use of the video camera are effective teaching methods.

The technology of today offers more information for growth and personal development of your skills. Familiarizing yourself with technology such as TrackMan, simulators, and pressure pads for weight distribution are as important as the variety of golf equipment.

A successful teacher needs credentials, such as the USGTF certification. You will need to be familiar with club fitting and gripping clubs. Students need to be aware of the importance of taking care of their equipment, and how a lack of this will change their grip or the reaction of the ball off the club. Cleaning clubs and changing worn grips are part of the learning experience. Good instructors all know how a club is  made and the difference between forged or cast-iron heads. Club shafts are varied, and you should know whether a graphite shaft or a steel  shaft will benefit your student’s capabilities.

Continue your education to further your product knowledge of the game. The more you know, the better the teacher you will become. There are many choices to get certifications; Medicus, Rotary Golf, and The Golfing Machine are just a few to mention. Most important, the USGTF has three certification levels for you to continue your education. Remember, you are taking your hobby and turning it into a rewarding profession.
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