Golf Questions You’re Afraid to Ask: Can I get a lesson at a private club if I’m not a member?

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The best way to rapidly improve your golf game, whether you are just starting out or trying to inch your way toward scratch, is to get a lesson with a teaching professional. But if you’re not a member at a club, it can be difficult to find the right place to go. Maybe a friend has a great teacher at their club, but can you use them, too? This is a common question that comes up when people are searching for good instructors: Can you get a lesson at a private club if you’re not a member? We spoke with teaching professional Jason Baile to find out.

“The way that almost every teaching professional’s situation is structured, they really couldn’t be successful financially if they weren’t able to teach outside [their club’s membership],” said Baile, who currently works at Jupiter Hills in Florida but has been a teaching professional at several other private clubs before. “Every club that I’ve been at has allowed me to teach anybody I wanted to.”

In his experience, it’s not necessarily harder to get lessons at exclusive clubs. Most actually see it as a positive.

“Most clubs have looked at it as a benefit and somewhat of an advertisement for the facility and the quality of the instruction that facility has,” Baile said.

Of course, one of the benefits of joining a club is that your price for lessons will be lower. Even within clubs, sometimes different professionals charge different rates. Baile explained that some clubs take a percentage from the teaching professional if they give an outside lesson. This gives a little extra revenue for the club and often is a reason for increased prices. Clubs also need to add benefits to joining, which is why their prices are lower.

So if you can go to a club for a lesson, should you?

“Just because you’re a beginner doesn’t mean you shouldn’t seek out the most qualified, experienced coach that you can,” Baile said. “If there’s any misnomer from the recreational golfer it’s ‘Well, I’m not good enough to take lessons from this coach,’ and nothing could be further from the truth.”

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And experienced doesn’t always mean expensive. There will always be a professional in your price range with the expertise to help you improve. Most professionals don’t care what level you’re at; they just want good students.

“I teach everybody from beginners to PGA Tour players, and it never bothers me who’s coming,” Baile said. “All I want is an active participant in their own improvement. Somebody who’s going to put a plan together with me, follow the plan, work together, and be a partner in their improvement.”

OK, great. But how can I find the right one for me? Baile said social media is a good tool. He said looking up pros close to your area, looking at what they post, seeing how they interact and watching some of their videos would give you a good understanding of if their teaching style might appeal to you.

Baile has an active Instagram and many of his non-member students found him there. If local pros are using their social media platforms to be available to potential clients, their accounts will likely be public, and you don’t even need an account of your own to view their content.

Just make sure to find the coach that’s right for you, whether they are at a club, your local muni or another location. And if you have any questions about their teaching philosophy or potential openings — pick up the phone and call.

“The relationship needs to be transformational, not transactional,” Baile said. “You look forward to being with the coach because you know you’re improving and you know you have a plan in which to do that. If it becomes a transactional relationship where the coach only cares about you when you’re standing in front of them, then that’s poor coaching.”

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