Lesson Tee: Jeff Coston

Golf lessons should always go beyond the setup and swing

It has been said that I’ve played on every tour except the LPGA Tour, including the PGA Tour, Web.com Tour, and the PGA Tour Champions.

I’m a grandfather now, and I’m still playing tournament golf. So, I’m sometimes asked why I’ve been more successful as a player in my latter days than I was on the PGA Tour in the mid-80s. The answer is that I have learned from past failures and have a far better mental game than ever before.

I have learned how to win. And this is something that must be taught to our golf students every day. Lessons should go beyond the setup and swing, short game and putting, the importance of which we cannot deny. But students should be taught how to practice, how to play on the course, and ideally, with some of our more advanced college and professional players, how to win. Players need to trust what they have, and that they’ve prepared for the pressure of tournament golf. Coach them on how to mentally handle a round of golf when their “C” game is the best they have.

I coach my students not to be attached to the outcome, but to be focused in the moment. Regarding the physical shot, I teach starting lines and end points. Shaping your shot is vital. On the lesson tee we use flags on the range to create a zone beyond which a student’s ball should not veer. I teach them to control their path and clubface and hit committed golf shots. As visual people, we do better with an image in mind.

That picture helps eliminate mistakes and reduce the big errors that can destroy a round. It is important to overcome interference out there. This is something I did not do as a young player, but sure do today. As teachers it is important to surround ourselves with knowledgeable people and continue to learn every day.

• The business impact of teaching your students how to win:
Golf can provide many extraordinary benefits to players, teachers and students alike. I started playing professionally in the late ‘70s. A great striker of the ball, I lacked some of the tools at which I now excel and teach my own students. I started teaching on August 1, 1994 and have not stopped since.

For over 22 years, I have taught from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. five days per week, with no lunch or breaks. Students drive from hours away and even fly in to our town to learn what I have to teach. I conduct four-hour mini golf schools on Saturday mornings and online lessons as requested. I’ve done almost 120 golf schools with Mike Bender alone, as well as dozens more with Mike Adams, Mike Bennett and Andy Plummer. Collaborating with other professionals gives us all an opportunity to learn from each other, providing the very best learning experience for students. It allows me the chance to always learn and grow, personally and professionally.