Last week, I took my first golf lesson at TopGolf in Wood Dale, Illinois. I’ve always considered taking a lesson or two, more so during the beginning of this project so I could learn how to properly hit the ball, but golf lessons seemed to be just a little too expensive. Luckily, a couple months ago, Groupon.com offered a coupon to TopGolf, which was good for six free games and a 30 minute golf lesson. I quickly purchased two coupons, one for me and one for Beth.

Our lessons were given by one of TopGolf’s Directors of Golf Instruction, Matt Vinge. A Director of Golf Instruction, from what I understand, is one of TopGolf’s best instructors, so their lessons are more expensive (starting at $110 per hour). The instructors underneath them are called Certified Golf Instructors, and their lessons are a little cheaper (starting at $95 per hour).

The lesson area at TopGolf is called the TopGolf Academy, and it consists of two hitting areas and a practice putting green (not all TopGolf locations may be the same). Each hitting area is equipped with a camera that the instructors can use to videotape your swing, which is then analyzed with your previous swings or swings of professional golfers. If you take a full lesson, the instructor will upload your swing video to the TopGolf website, so you can log into the website and view your swing videos. They can also provide videos for drills you can do to make your swing better.

My lesson mainly consisted on fixing my grip, my stance, and half of my swing. I’ve played around with different grips before (see this link), but always settled on the ‘ten finger’ grip because it felt more comfortable. This was the very first thing Matt changed when he saw my swing, switching it to an ‘interlocking’ grip. His main reasoning behind switching it was “all the pros use this grip”. Ok, fair enough, I guess I can take that as an answer. It took me a while to get used to the grip; it just felt awkward. But, supposedly, it should help my slice, which has started to become predictable.

The second thing he changed was my stance. I really had no clue how I was supposed to stand. When I was first starting to learn how to play, I mainly focused on keeping my head down and my knees bent. I guess what I was really doing is not keeping my back straight, or hunching over the ball. A reason against this makes complete sense, and explains why I would top the ball a lot. When I would take my swing, I would straighten out my knees, which lifted my whole body, and moved the path of the swing away from the ball. With the new stance, my knees are just slightly bent and my back is straighter, which make it feel like I’m standing up a lot more. There’s now less room for error, as long as I keep my head in the same place.

Finally, certain parts of my swing was fixed; most notably, how weight gets shifted during the swing and how to follow through after you hit the ball. And it all makes complete sense: on your backswing, put weight on your back foot, and after you hit the ball, transfer your weight to your front foot. During your follow through, this should put your body over your front foot. With all these points, including a proper grip and a proper stance, essentially what you are doing is directing the ball to go straight.

Beth’s lesson pretty much consisted of the learning the same thing, but with a little more focus on trying to hit the ball. She’s very new to golf, and is lucky to get the ball to go more than 20 yards, much less even just hit the ball.

A couple days after the lesson, Beth and I hit the driving range and tried to put everything that we learned to use. It took a little bit of warming up, but things turned out to be better than they were before. I was hitting straighter, longer shots. I wasn’t slicing as much, and if anything, I was slightly pushing to the right. My swing still didn’t feel completely smooth and comfortable, but I think I will get used to it over time. Beth saw the most improvement. She was consistently hitting the ball, and was hitting it [slightly] farther than before. She pretty much just needs to hit more, and get used to how to swing a club.

Obviously, the lessons were a great thing for my (our) golf game. It’s just going to take some time to perfect what we learned and get comfortable with everything.