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3 Tips For Finding The Right Beginner Golf Program

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Ryan Dailey, PGA
Co-Founder and COO, Operation 36 Golf

Golf is a wonderful sport, and the decision to begin playing is an easy one. The next question that pops up, is, however, a bit more challenging: Just how am I going to learn to play golf?  

Here are three tips to save you some time, heartache and significantly increase your likelihood of success in learning how to play the game of golf.  

1 - Find a program centered around playing golf on the course

Yes, this may seem humorous as you read this but this is very, very important. Would you want to sign up for a beginner golf program that does not involve taking you to play on the golf course? NO!!

Unfortunately, this happens all the time. How do I know? Because that’s how we used to teach it and that’s how we were trained to do it when we first started. We just followed the status quo in the industry. We used to run all of our classes on the driving range/putting green and then spend the last class piling everyone into a cart and racing on the course to play a team scramble.  

Then, we would get emails from parents that said they tried to take their child on the course to play and they still don’t know how to play golf. They felt it was a waste of their money to sign up for a golf program where all we did was play games on the driving range and putting green. Those were not fun conversations to have for us and the parents. In the very early days, we were so ineffective at helping players that we almost went out of business in our first few years of running what is now Operation 36 Golf.  Then we had a breakthrough. We needed to get students onto the course right away. 

If you want to learn how to play the game of golf you need to enroll in a program that is centered around playing the game of golf. The problem is that the vast majority of programs in golf are not centered around playing on the course.

The majority of golf programs adhere to what we feel is a FALSE PREMISE:

“You must practice enough to get good enough to play on the golf course.”

At Operation 36 Golf, our programs are specifically designed to get a player on the golf course early and often. How early? It is not uncommon for a players’ first golf experience at a licensed Operation 36 Golf facility to be playing in a 9-hole Operation 36 event where they start 25 yards away from the hole. YES! Play first!

The Operation 36 program starts players close enough (25 yards) to the hole in their first experience that they can experience success. Once they start to experience success, it fuels them to want to get better through practice and the guidance of their coach. We hear of stories every day from around the world of how successful the Operation 36 program has been to help beginners learn and progress in playing the game of golf.  

2 - Find a program that has a structured curriculum

Would we ever enroll in a university or enroll our children in a school that doesn’t have a curriculum that the teachers follow?  Not having a curriculum is pretty humorous to think about. However, this happens all the time in golf programs around the world. No curriculum is used and in the small minority that do have curriculums:

  1. They aren’t centered around playing the game on the golf course.
  2. The programs do not hold the students accountable for progress by testing them.
  3. The students don’t have access to the curriculum to review/refresh as needed.

Without a curriculum, the teacher and student have no structured plan to improve or the ability to have measurable long-term goals.  

The reason Operation 36 has been so successful is that it is one of the few programs in the world that is centered around playing on the course and that we have a curriculum for students. Players are motivated by playing on the course right away and seeing success. They then train with their coach using a curriculum specifically designed to help them improve their on-course skills.

3 - Find a program that uses technology to track progress and create community

The power of multiple people working on similar challenges and encouraging each other has been proven as one of the most successful environments you can create. Among other examples, Crossfit is a great example of this. One of the taglines they use is, “Together We Are Stronger.”  

I’ll never forget the first Crossfit class I ever took, I’m struggling to get a very small amount of weight over my head and two complete strangers start yelling in my ear and encouraging me. There is no doubt that I lifted more weight and ran faster times during my experience at Crossfit because of the community cheering me on.  

Instead of learning to play golf by yourself watching Youtube videos or in a 1:1 lesson with a golf pro, we highly recommend when you are learning to play golf that you do it in a group/community setting. This environment is very encouraging as everyone is experiencing the same challenges and can laugh off the bad shots as a group and cheer on the good shots.

Another very important component is to be able to reference your progress in your on-course playing ability and in the curriculum on a consistent basis. This is where technology comes into play. Crossfit once again did a wonderful job of this as we had to plug in our weights/reps into their app and everyone at the gym (box) could like/comment on it. After a few weeks of the group cheering you on in the gym and encouraging you in the app, you start to feel part of the group (tribe) and you can’t wait to get back at it the next day.  

We highly recommend finding a golf program that creates community and uses technology similar to Crossfit. It would be ideal for you to be able to see your progress in an app you carry around to keep you motivated and to encourage your other participants in your golf class by liking/commenting on their progress.

When we designed Operation 36, we knew we had to help create a community of players working together to improve. Progressing at golf with an end goal of shooting 36 or better for 9 holes is a challenge. The community is vital in supporting and encouraging each other when we don’t perform as well as we would like.  

Operation 36 programs are delivered in group classes and you play on the golf course in small groups. These events are all delivered at your local golf course and after a few events, you start to see the same people and start cheering each other. In many cases, players will make friends with others in the class and start practicing and playing to prepare for the Operation 36 events.  

Finally, we added the technology in Operation 36 with our Mobile App and Web App to help a coach, player and the community to track each other's progress and stay in touch outside of class (community). It’s very easy when you are struggling a bit to forget how far you have come. With just a few short clicks a coach can show a player how much they have improved to keep them motivated.  

As you look for the right program for you or your family to learn and progress in the game of golf, compare to see what programs offer one or all three of these vitally important items:

  1. Is the program centered around playing the game of golf on the course?
  2. Does the program have a curriculum?
  3. Does the program use technology to track progress and create community?

When you find a program with all three, you are on the path to success. You will have a rock-solid foundation for beginning and progressing through the world’s best sport! To find an Operation 36 facility near you, click here.

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Also known as Op 36, we are a team of golf professionals and golf enthusiasts that are aiming to change the way the golf industry introduces and progresses beginners in playing the game of golf.
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