Choosing Between Private Lessons and Schools

The Golf lessons can typically be taken in 1 of 2 ways: one-on-one, individual instruction in a series of lessons spread over several weeks or months; or in a group setting at a 2- or 3-day golf school or daylong clinic.

Which is best for you?

That depends on several factors: how much you can spend, how much time you have, and what type of instruction best suits your personality and commitment.

Bryan Gathright, one of Golf Magazine's Top 100 teachers in America, says the level of commitment is a key to making any lessons successful.

"You'll have someone came in and say, 'I want to be a 5 handicap,'" says Gathright, who teaches out of Oak Hills Country Club in San Antonio, Tex.

"Well, how much time do you have to work on it? Do you get to practice 3-4 days a week and play a couple times a week? 'Well, no, maybe I get to hit balls once every 2-3 weeks and play a couple times a month.' Well, that's unrealistic. "They might be able to get to a 5 if they're a 3," Gathright says, laughing, "but if they are a 10 or 12, that's not going to happen."

A commitment might be easier to make for those who can schedule one-on-one lessons over a period of months. Because you know when you leave the first lesson that there are things you have to work on before the second - and that if you show up at the second without having worked on those things, your instructor will know about it. A series of lessons over time with a top instructor will often be more expensive than a golf school (at least if you attend one in your local area). That's another incentive to follow up on the lessons by working on your own.

But private lessons also provide follow-up instruction over time, and allow the teacher to focus the message in each session, and then build on that message in each succeeding session.

Multiday golf schools and daylong golf clinics place students in group settings, which requires that the student be comfortable in such a setting.

Schools are a great option for people who want to learn or improve their golf game but are simply too busy to clear out multiple dates over a period of months for individual lessons. With a golf school, you can schedule one 2- to 3-day gap and get a lot of instruction all at once.

The drawback is that there is generally no follow-up help from an instructor - you'll be on your own once you leave the school or clinic. Also, in group teaching a student is likely to get far more information thrown at them than they can possibly process. What do you focus on? What will you take away from the experience?

If considering a golf school, it's important to find one with a low student-to-teacher ratio, and also to know that the instructor(s) can cut through all the information and communicate to you the handful of most important things you should learn.

Michael Lamanna, Director of Schools at The Westin La Cantera Resort in San Antonio, splits hit time between individual lessons and schools.

"In a golf school I cover every topic but I also look each person in the eye and say, 'now this is what I want you to focus on,' and it will be one thing," he says. Golf schools are also a great option for anyone considering a golf vacation.