Who dares to teach must never cease to learn.” These words by the great American librarian and museum director John Cotton Dana are incredibly profound, even given their brevity and seeming simplicity.
They are particularly true for golf teaching professionals and coaches, and more relevant today than at any time in history. In our modern 21st century, golf instruction has seen an explosion of great thinkers, theorists, and practical applications that Bobby Jones and Ben Hogan could only dream about. Today, we have universities getting involved in studying golf in terms of mechanics, technique, the mental game and motor learning skills needed for success. It also seems every other teacher who makes their presence known on the Internet is deeply into the science of golf.
All of us like to think of ourselves as competent instructors, and those of us who have gone through the USGTF certification process have experienced a golf teacher training program that is the best in the industry. Those who have successfully completed the academic portion of the program are qualified to teach all aspects of the game to average players, and those who have attained Certified Golf Teaching Professional® status can competently teach the game to more advanced players.
Nevertheless, the learning process for golf teachers should never end upon attaining certification as either an Associate member, a Certified Golf Teaching Professional, or even as a Master Golf Teaching Professional®. There are countless ways of imparting instruction to those who seek our counsel, new teaching techniques to learn, mental game skills to master and motor learning procedures that are always being studied and reviewed by the finest minds in academia. Golf teachers who are not keeping up with these
developments risk being left behind by their more inquisitive and motivated peers who work to be the best that they can be.
USGTF Master Golf Teaching Professional David Vaught from California wrote in the last issue of Golf Teaching Pro how important it is for teaching professionals to continue their education, and this article continues with that theme. Vaught is also on record as saying one of his main motivations in continually learning is that he never wants to give a bad lesson, and that’s a great ideal for all of us to strive for.
What are some of the ways that we can continue our education as golf teachers?
TAKE A LESSON. That’s right, take a lesson. One well-known adage is that doctors who treat themselves have a fool for a patient. No matter our skill level, we can always use outside help on our own games, but more importantly as a golf teacher, taking a lesson exposes us to different ways of thinking and learning. USGTF national course director Mark Harman fought a hooking problem several years ago, and after failing to fix it on his own went to another instructor who gave him new tools to solve the problem. So it doesn’t matter if you’re the best player in the world, the best teacher in the world, an officer in the USGTF, or a newly-minted teaching professional who just attained your certification…take a lesson!
GIVE A LESSON. As teaching professionals, this is of course our mission, but just as the student is using the lesson as a learning vehicle, so should the teacher. After giving a
lesson, contemplate what you learned and record it, either on paper or electronically. You should learn something new every lesson you give.
ATTEND SEMINARS. It doesn’t take a long Google search to find golf teaching seminars given by various teachers and coaches all across the country. USGTF certification courses also fall into that category, with the added benefit of having an opportunity to earn a golf teaching credential that is recognized industry wide.
UPGRADE YOUR CERTIFICATION. Did you earn your Associate or Certified Golf Teaching Professional status years ago and never sought to upgrade your membership? If so, you might want to think about doing it. In addition to gaining a higher certification status, you will gain more knowledge in the process. The Master Golf Teaching Professional
certification course in particular is always a wonderful learning opportunity, especially with your peers presenting thesis papers drawn on their experiences and research.
TAKE ADVANTAGE OF USGTF CONTINUING EDUCATIONRESOURCES. The USGTF has gone to considerable time and expense in creating instructional materials for golf teachers and coaches that provide pertinent and relevant information that promises to improve the knowledge base of anyone who takes advantage of them. Industry-recognized professionals like Dr. Gregg Steinberg, Michael Brantl, Thomas T Wartelle and others have put together programs and instructional DVDs and books that are second-to-none when it comes to giving teachers and coaches an education in their respective fields. These materials are available through the USGTF Pro Shop.
If teaching and coaching are your passions, you owe it to your students and players – and also to yourself – to continue to learn as much as you can about your craft. The resources are out there, so please take advantage of them.