Teaching vs. Coaching

Over the years, there have been tremendous amounts written about golf instruction, and also about golf coaching. What’s the difference? Is there a difference? Is one better than the other? Can the two be combined? Over the next few weeks and months, this blog will be exploring a number of coaching topics and how they can be applied and unified with the instruction side of your golf game. We’re calling it Unified Golf Instruction—the integration of the solid fundamentals of the swing (taught via FixYourGame.com) with the fundamentals of playing the game. Anyone who has played golf, especially competitive golf, will agree that there is a major difference between swing the club and playing the game.

Some of the topics to be covered will be: course management, mental game, risk/reward, handling nerves and pressure, goals and goal setting, results orientation, effective practice techniques, competition and practice competition, how to play like a kid, planning and preparation, how to best utilize your equipment, how to handle bad luck and good luck, how to handle slow play, dealing with competitors, and others. We’re always looking for your feedback—if there’s something you’d like more information about, or opinion of, please let us know.

First, let’s talk about the differences between teaching and coaching. A teacher will instruct a student on how to swing the club, stroke a putt, etc. but a coach will instruct a student on course strategy, mental preparation, practice techniques, physical training, etc. Often people get these confused and mistakenly use terms like “swing coach” when they mean “swing instructor” or “mental coach”. Instructors can be experts on the mechanics of the swing, coaching, or both. Or, an instructor can break down each category into specialties to focus on. Someone like Dave Pelz is an expert short game instructor; Dr. Bob Rotella is an expert psychologist / mental coach, and Pia Nilsson uses coaching and teaching techniques as part of her instructional philosophy. It’s very important to diversify your knowledge base to get as much information as possible. Do not stick to one philosophy, or technique, or instructor, as you may be shutting out valuable information.

It’s important for golfers to study and learn all aspects of the game and apply the relevant portions to their own situations. Often people focus on one aspect (usually the swing mechanics) and ignore the other parts. We’ve all seen these people, and you may be one of them—are you constantly tinkering with your swing? Changing equipment? Scouring the Internet for the latest tips and advice? If so, you may be forgetting a huge side of the game that can improve your scores.

So stay tuned over the next few weeks and months as we explore this concept of Unified Golf Instruction. Please let us know your thoughts and what topics you’d like to see discussed!

Brant Kasbohm, PGA
Director of Instruction