by Jaacob Bowden

One day I was at a golf course driving range in California and there was a “certified” golf instructor giving power tips…to a student who could out-drive the instructor.  What a great irony!  Now, that’s not to say that the golf instructor did not have anything valuable to offer, but it gave me the idea for today’s message.

If you’ve made the decision to take golf lessons or are thinking about it, I would advise you to use caution with whom you consider to help you with your golf game.  While taking a lesson from the local certified pro at your golf course is a good start for most people, let’s take a look at your local pro’s typical background.  To get the industry’s most popular certification, there are several things that must happen.  Here are two of them:

1)  Pass a Playing Test

The person must play 36 holes of golf in one day and shoot within 15 shots of the course’s rating.  So if the course rating is 72.0, then the rating for 36 holes would be 144.0.  Add 15 shots to that, and the person must then shoot under 159…which could be a 79 and an 80.  Typically the middle tees are played (not the tournament back tees) and the flags are positioned on flat parts of the green.

2)  Pass Three Levels of Courses and Seminars

Usually over the course of several years, the person must also pass tests covering the following subject matter:

– Rules of Golf
– Tournament Operations
– Golf Car Fleet Management
– Introduction to Teaching
– Golfer Development Programs
– Golf Club Design & Repair
– Career Enhancement
– Analysis of the Swing
– Business Planning & Operations
– Customer Relations
– Business Communications
– Turfgrass Management
– Swing Concepts of Teaching
– Supervising & Delegating
– Merchandising & Inventory Management
– Food & Beverage Control
– Other Electives

As I mentioned, taking a lesson from someone like this is probably fine for most people.  Your pro basically has a demonstrated ability to break 80 from the middle tee boxes to easy pin positions…and also has some verifiable level of background in the swing.  However, think about this:

1)  They may not be able to hit the ball very far.
2)  They may never have played competitively outside of the Playing Ability Test.
3)  They may have little knowledge as to how to fit you in to equipment that can enhance your game.
4)  They may get certain incentives or commissions for selling you certain products.
5)  They may not have much background in overall game improvement (Note that the course work only involves Analyzing the Golf Swing and not other things like short game, mental game, course management and decision-making, etc).

6)  They may be limited in their full swing knowledge to the type of swing that their organization advocates.
7)  They may not have very good listening or have good teaching skills.
8)  Etc, etc, etc.

Their background and experience is more geared towards running and managing a golf shop than it is for helping you get better as a golfer.  If you were at all serious about improving your game, would you take a lesson from a “certified” pro like this?  Maybe…maybe not.

Like I said, there are certainly great “certified” teachers, but all I’m saying is just to give some consideration to whom you are trusting your game.  It could save you a lot of frustration and money in the long run.

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