Individual or Group?
By Sarah Bennett, PGA Golf Teaching Professional and Ladies European Tour player
I have been a PGA Golf Teaching Professional and Ladies European Tour player for 22 years now and I’ve seen the complete cycle of the sport through many stages.
I deliver Tri Golf to primary school children, coach ladies and men new to the game, players with disabilities (both physical and mental) through to the County and Elite level.
There is so much variation within the delivery style and pace of a lesson as I may be coaching 1-2-1 or in a group format. I believe one of the key requirements is to become “flexible” within your coaching style, reading your clients whilst providing just the correct amount of information and self- learning time during the sessions.
Some player’s will require a more analytical approach to understand why, whilst others have a greater comprehension with the use of key words
I really relish my group coaching sessions as these provide the opportunity for player to player interaction and self-developmental time which is not available during an individual lesson. It is relatively easy to master the feel of the group make-up within the pre-session interviews which are absolutely key. This pre-technical coaching time is where initial information is gathered with regards to the player’s goals and expectations. The character of the player is exposed here, which also provides me with the information I require to best structure the subsequent group or individual lessons for the new golfer. Golf is a life-long learning skill and it is vital to manage your player’s expectations early on during the introduction to the game or at an Elite level. As a new player it is still important to set clear goals, make it enjoyable and manage expectations regarding progress.
Golf as a sport possesses some unique characteristics; it is a non-reactionary sport and according to Loehr E James Ed.D is one of the most mentally demanding sports with a golfer actually playing the ball 1% of the time compared to 25% of the time for tennis players. A round of golf takes on average 4 hours to complete so the psychological aspect needs to be addressed in a very simple and gradual way. This coupled with the constant building upon confidence levels which can be a challenge, particularly with the new golfer.
Many players require continuous reassurance during the initial stages of learning their new sport, some feeling intimidated within a group environment. This can be damaging to confidence and motivation levels early on. If a player verbalises any concerns during the initial point of contact I will often recommend the player to take a series of individual lessons where I ensure the sport is learned and played not solely concentrating upon technical skills.
This option provides an alternative pathway for the golfer to join my GolfingGirlgroup sessions where I pitch the classes to ensure the most apprehensive player meets new friends, learns new skill and progress whilst having fun.
Sarah is a PGA of Great Britain & Ireland class AA Professional and Ladies European Tour member
She is Head PGA Teaching Professional at Three Rivers Golf Course nr Chelmsford and is one of the most experienced female Golf Professionals in the UK.