1. Will instruction be suited to my level of ability?
Most programs are open to all levels of expertise, and you should be grouped with students whose skills are similar. You’ll learn not only from the teacher, but from observing your fellow students’ progress and learning of their experiences. If you’re a rank beginner, make sure that there will be ample opportunity to ask questions and get additional assistance. If you’re an experienced low handicap player, find out whether your special interest, e.g., course strategy, difficult shots, will be addressed.
2. What is the teaching philosophy?
Gravity golf, Natural Golf, good ole fashioned golf … there are a number of different approaches to the golf swing out there. Determine whether instruction is geared to making your game over or to improving the way you now play. If the former, decide whether you’re willing to commit the time and effort to developing new habits after you return home. Some programs devote equal time to drills and course play while others place more emphasis on one or the other. If you want to work on a specific aspect of your game, look for a school that can accommodate your needs.
3. What kinds of technology and teaching aids are employed?
Many schools utilize videotaping to help you recognize and correct swing problems. You should be taped at the beginning and end of the session so you can visualize the improvements. If you’re able to take the tape home with you, it will serve as a reference for future comparisons. Computers may also be used to analyze your grip and practice aids can make it easier for you to groove in new habits.
4. How much attention will I receive?
While the student to teacher ratio is a good indicator, it’s not the only one. Ask if additional individual or group instruction will be available after class and whether the teacher accompanies you when you’re on the course, in a playing situation. In many programs, instructors have lunch with and spend other off-class hours with students, offering you additional opportunities to ask questions and discuss your concerns.
5. What are the qualifications of the instructors?
Ideally, your teacher should be a good golfer, a good communicator, and a person with good people skills. Find out what specific attributes and experience are required by the school. LPGA and PGA professionals are trained and certified as golf instructors and some have authored instructional books, produced videotapes, and/or coached LPGA and PGA Tour players.
6. What is the daily schedule?
How much of the day is devoted to instruction, playing time, and leisure? If you’re vacationing with family or a non-golfer, you may prefer a morning or afternoon program that leaves the rest of the day free for other pursuits. If you want to maximize your learning and playing time, select an intensive program that offers several hours of instruction and supervised play each day. Some franchise golf schools are structured like a working day, and you will have little or no free time during the daylight hours.
Other smaller schools offer programs custom built around a vacation.
7. Is there a follow-up program that I can pursue at home?
Your instructional program should continue after you leave the school, and it should be a joint effort t between you and your school. Will you receive written information that you can refer to either an instruction guide or a personalized practice plan? Can you take home the videotapes and photographs that show your improvement and what you should strive for? Some schools will review and critique new videotape you make and send them and will be available to answer any future questions you may have.
8. What does the cost of tuition cover?
Let’s face it, golf instructional schools are not cheap. For commuter programs, tuition usually covers instruction, lunches, and green fees. For resident programs, tuition may cover any or all of the following, in addition to instruction: lodging, meals, green and cart fees during and after class, unlimited practice range balls, take-home videotape, instruction manual, personalized written practice plan, and follow-up advice and videotape review. Reduced tuition may be available for two students attending from the same household and special rates are usually accorded non-golfer spouses and guests.
9. For juniors, what kind of supervision will be provided?
If you’re sending your kid off to a golf camp, make sure that an instructor or counselor is with the campers 24 hours a day. Most camps offer a structured around-the-clock program, with a variety of supervised evening activities and counselors in attendance at meals and in the lodging facilities.
10. Can references be provided?
Ask for the names and phone numbers of two or three references, preferably students from your community or at your level of ability. Find out if the program met their expectations and whether they would return.