John Renslow
Golf Columnist

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October 30, 2013
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Renslow: How to know what you don't know

The more, the merrier, right?

When it comes to a party, this, of course, is true. Yet when you’re talking about game improvement and golf instruction, this may not be the case.

In order to enjoy the game more, it’s important to improve. This can be very challenging to achieve on your own. Is it reasonable to teach yourself how to do something? How is one to know what they don’t know?

We do know that our game needs to be in good hands, more specifically, your local PGA professional. But is it better to learn on an individual basis, or is a group setting more helpful?

Group lessons can be very beneficial. For those who might be a little nervous or intimidated with a private (exclusive time with the pro) lesson, group lessons often have as many as eight students.

This collection of personalities can be good. You get to meet new people, and it works for those who want to participate without being the center of attention. You will receive some good, albeit generic, instruction and a certain amount of direct communication, and the price is very affordable.

On the downside, a couple of important things to keep in mind — you typically cannot choose your partners, and you often don’t have a choice of instructor. Also the schedule is not up to you. The schedule is set up in advance, and if can’t make for a lesson, you simply miss out.

Semi-private sessions (not to be confused with group) are very similar yet with some big advantages. The cost goes up a bit, but the student-to-teacher ratio is rarely greater than 4 to 1 and you get to choose your professional.

Private instruction is generally the most effective path to improving your game. Direct communication, undivided attention, you can choose your instructor, and you can enjoy your own pace.

Everybody is different. We all learn differently, we communicate differently, and our individual goals are unique.

Of course, there are as many personalities and types of instructors as there are students. Be discriminating and check things out. You can make a phone call or stop by your local golf course. If the instructor and you don’t really mesh, that’s OK. To each his own.

When you do locate a qualified instructor, just make that first appointment. We all have our own reasons or rationale for not doing something we know is good for us. We should be exercising, saving money, working toward world peace, etc.

But your golf game is more important than that. So whether you’re more comfortable in a group or prefer to learn one on one, it’s up to you. The main thing is that you play.

John Renslow is general manager and director of golf at Alta Sierra Country Club. Please contact John with your questions or comments at

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The Union Updated Oct 30, 2013 11:43PM Published Oct 30, 2013 11:10PM Copyright 2013 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.