My three words that I find the most relatable to teaching golf to my students are - Instructing, Coaching, and Mentoring.
Instructing - to provide with knowledge, especially by a systematic method.
Coaching - a training or development process which an individual is supported while achieving a specific personal result or goal.
Mentoring - Personal developmental relationship in which a more experienced or more knowledgeable person helps to guide a less experienced person. However, the mentoring is more than just answering questions, it's an ongoing relationship of learning, dialogue, and challenges.
I have defined each above to show that there is a difference between each and how they are also similar to each other.
Golf instruction is a broad, often argued topic. There are so many opinions, theories, facts, observations, thoughts, and ideas out there to learn. I have found trying to collect as much information as you possibly can on golf instruction is a very challenging and difficult task. (almost impossible, too) So I have begun to focus on what makes a teacher a teacher? Are we coaches? Are we instructors? Are we mentors? I'm sure that if you are reading this, you have probably decided which word or words describes you! I would like to think that I incorporate all three in ways that help my students enjoy the game more. In my earlier post I talked about communication, listening to your student will help you to figure out what your student needs.
There are some wonderful "methods" to teaching golf, and you will find some of your students respond much better to have a systemic way to learn golf. Learning and observing any method of teaching golf will help you to help this type of student to learn the game more effectively. I enjoy observing, reading and talking with instructors who use method teaching. They have a solid game plan with information that they believe is the best way to get their students better. One of my favorite methods I've learned about is Stack and Tilt.
I love the definition of coaching. I never actually thought it was a word that I would use as a teacher, but after reading the above, I am a coach too! I have many students that come to me for a specific part of their game. Some of them want to win the club championship, some want to beat their spouse in a (hopefully) friendly game, and some just want to be a better bunker player. Coaching is a great way to get these students to achieve their goals. I find checking in on them by email is a wonderful way to support them in achieving their goal(s). Students that come to me for this aspect of teaching, are often not looking to make a major change in their game or swing, but to accomplish a single, specific goal. They love encouragement and support from their teacher. One of my co-workers at Breakers Ocean, Kevin Compare, is a wonderful example of a coach.
Again, another word after defined, did I realize is very much teaching word. I find many junior golfers and golfers trying to play for a living often fall into this category. They are looking for a developmental relationship from us as teachers, not just instruction or coaching, but a more well rounded approach. I love that it is defined as a "ongoing relationship of learning, dialogue, and challenges". I think this word is a very powerful one in our business. It is often used to describe relationships in the work place but not much (in my observation) in the teaching. We are mentors, as golf teachers, to our students that want to improve and work on their games long range. Showing a vested interest in these students games can result in a wonderful feeling of accomplishment and success.
My favorite teacher that uses this approach, in my opinion, is Sean Foley.
My Golf Philosophy
"I want to create a learning environment that my clients can flourish and see definite results in their games. I like to have fun while I teach and share the passion I have for the game with my students. Knowing how complicated this game can be, I aim to create a teaching environment that golfers can learn and understand my information clearly and quickly. Finding the cause and effect of what the ball is doing is the most important in diagnosing how to make changes for each individual student. I strive to tailor the lesson to my students learning style and capabilities."