Golf remains not only a popular recreational activity but a lucrative way to make a living for professionals who can coach the sport. There are about 24 million golfers in the United States, where the sport generates an estimated $84 billion annually.
Golf is an expensive sport, compared to other athletic activities. Much of the cost stems from the need for specialized equipment as well as maintaining the expanse of land needed for an 18-hole course. The average green fee to play a round of golf on a public US course is about $36. Private courses can be 25 percent more expensive.
The average cost of a set of golf clubs can range from $200 to $400, not including a bag for carrying them. You can also spend $600 on a single putter.
Because people are willing to spend this kind of money, they’re willing to do what it takes to get better at the sport.
This is where a private golf instructor can make a difference and earn a good living.
You’ll also continue to enjoy the social, mental and physical benefits of golf while helping others get better at the game. A good afternoon walking in the fresh air does wonders for your well-being. Getting paid to do it makes private golf instruction even more attractive.
Golf is also great exercise. Along with walking the course, which can cover 5-6 miles, swinging the golf club provides a full-body workout while maintaining flexibility.
Perhaps best of all, golf is one of the few sports you can play all your life. That means you can coach it, too. If becoming a golf pro is appealing, you’ve probably got some experience under your belt. With training and certification, you can take your love of the game to the next level and help others improve their swing. Let’s get started.
In this article you’ll learn:
- How much money you can make as a private golf pro
- The required training and certifications
- Professional groups to join
- Employment opportunities
- Finding players as a private golf coach
- Plus helpful tips for private golf instructors.
How much money can you make?
Private golf instructors currently charge between $75 and $90 an hour. You’re likely to make the most money offering private lessons, followed by work as a country club golf pro.
Training and Certification
Many organizations offer accreditation for aspiring golf instructors. Let’s go over the two most popular and respected.
The Professional Golf Association offers an Associate Member training program that is recognized worldwide. There are 5 courses to complete within 6 months at a total cost of $200 for the training, plus $32 for an exam after each course.
The process also involves a criminal background check and a successful score on the 36-hole Playing Ability Test (PAT).
To pass the PAT, you must post a 36-hole score that’s within 15 shots of the course rating.
The main drawback with the PGA’s Associate Member program is the time commitment. You’re expected to complete the PAT at least 8 years prior to registering for the associate program.
With the PGA, another option is the University Program.
The PGA Golf Management University Program provides classroom courses, internship experience and opportunities for player development in a 4 ½ to 5-year program for aspiring PGA Professionals. Offered at 18 universities nationwide, the program allows college students to earn a degree in fields such as Marketing, Business Administration, Hospitality Administration, and Recreation and Park Management.
Students earn a bachelor’s degree in a golf industry-compatible major and can apply for PGA membership following graduation. The PGA claims graduates of the program have a 100% employment placement rate.
A faster route to certification is available through the Professional Golf Teachers Association of America, which offers a home-study course and a supplemental 5-day on-site training program.
Here’s what you’ll learn:
- How to teach golf. All the facets of coaching the sport, including the 12 most important golf lessons you will use.
- Business & Marketing – Learn techniques and tools to help your success as a professional golf instructor.
- Success secrets for golf instruction – What you need to know to have confidence in your methods and help your students advance their game.
- The Playing Ability Test (P.A.T.) – in which you’ll demonstrate your skill as a golfer.
- An open-book written examination to test your golf teaching knowledge.
Upon successful completion of the Home Study exam course, which requires an 85 percent pass rate, you will be named a certified Master Teaching Professional of the PGTAA, which comes with a membership card recognized worldwide and a Certificate of Completion.
The 5-day onsite training course is currently $2,495. This includes the home study portion of your training, The onsite course is for members who’ve successfully completed the home study exam and want hands-on teaching experience and constructive criticism. During the in-person training you’ll also learn about club fitting and how to use video to help clients study and improve their game.
Coach training also covers the fundamentals of lesson planning, time management and measuring clients’ progress.
Sessions focus on various techniques, including posture, fairway driving, putting and chopping. You’ll also learn how to offer tips on helping students with their mental preparation for a round and preparing for tournament play.
You’ll also work on using video equipment to record a golfer’s swing to provide tips for improving techniques.
Here’s a sample video in the style golf pros often use to teach swing technique.
Professional Groups to Join
Being a PGA member gives you instant credibility on any golf course in the world, as well as the respect of students.
The US Golf Association is probably the most-recognized advocate for the sport of golf. Individual memberships start at $36 a year. At the upper end of the membership spectrum, $4,200 a year gets you into the USGA’s Patron Plus Club, which includes perks such as tickets to the U.S. Open.
Online job search sites like ZipRecruiter and Indeed.com can turn up opportunities around the country for golf instructors.
A more proactive approach would be to take your resume and golf clubs to every public and private golf course in your locality and offer your services.
Above all, stay active in your professional organizations and network with as many people as you can. Don’t be shy about alerting your connections that you’re looking for work. Someone might be able to refer you to a job opening that hasn’t even been advertised. Plus, that person may be willing to serve as a reference, which opens the door even wider.
Get listed in the PGA nationwide directory of individual golf instructors. If you work for a country club or private course, sign up on Golfable.com, which maintains a directory of 17,000 courses and clubs in the United States.
You can sign up with PGACoach to use their marketing services in attracting new golf students. Fees vary.
Contacting local colleges and even some high schools with golf teams or clubs can also produce results. This is a way to find students who want to improve their skills while school’s out.
Ask your clients to post reviews of your private coaching on social media platforms and golf forums, if the forum rules allow for promoting small business owners.
Good to know:
Important points for new coaches to remember when working with golf students:
Do you feel there’s a good fit between you and your student, including personality and mutual goals?
Do some research
Call around to find out what other private instructors are doing – their pricing, reputation, location, and success with students.
Maintain your accreditation
This supports your professional reputation and gives you instant credibility when meeting with potential new students.
Use technology to help students see their progress
Swing Aids show rather than tell students how their swing is improving. You’ll need a video camera and the ability to share clips with students for their own study. This means setting up a dedicated website where you can post student videos to their private accounts, or hand them some sort of physical media containing the video. This could be a DVD or memory stick, which might be preferable because students can return the memory stick before each lesson so you can reuse it to record the next video.
Provide plenty of feedback
Whether online after the lesson or in-person, you’ll need to keep students apprised of their progress, give them praise and keep them engaged so they keep coming back.
At some point your student athletes may ask about sports fitness, nutrition, game psychology or some other aspect of golf outside your domain of expertise. Developing professional contacts in these areas means you are able to provide instant referrals – and these professionals can do the same for you.
If you enjoyed this article, check out some other PocketSuite.io content that can help you grow your career as a private golf instructor. Here’s a great place to start.
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