Should golf instructors be ranked?

When I posed this question on #mytubspy, to the surprise of absolutely no one, answers ranged from “Absolutely, 100% Yes!” to “Not no, but hell no.”

But upon further analysis, there are some meaty nuggets of information worthy of discussion.

Here’s a compilation of what viewers had to say. As always, let us know what you think.

A QUESTION WORTH ASKING

It’s fair to wonder whether the answer to the overarching question is one we can reasonably answer. If not, it becomes an academic exercise of futility. It might inspire several minutes of decent debate on social media, but that’s about it.

If we decide to venture down this path of ranking golf instructors, then what’s the most meaningful approach? That is, how do we produce answers that actually help golfers find an instructor that best meets specific criteria?

What is a “fair” and objective way to do this? How much subjectivity is too much?

Implicit in the primary question is that we must consider why golfers take lessons. The obvious answer is to get better at some aspect of the game. But that’s not the only one. Golfers take lessons for myriad reasons. This list includes, but is not limited to: social engagement, periodic swing “tune-ups”, fault/fix methodologies, unique experience (golf schools), something to do/support a club or pro, etc..

With that in mind, if anything was clear, it’s that there’s plenty of strong feelings and no obvious answers. Here’s a quick overview of the most popular responses.

NOPE, UH-HUH, NO WAY

Most criticisms aligned with one of the three following stances.

The question is too difficult to answer. My hunch is the thinking here is that ranking something as subjective as teaching/learning possibly doesn’t lend itself well to a clear numerical ranking system. Another possibility is that some believe the question just “feels” too dicey.

The role of the golfer. An instructor can provide a student with all the information, techniques, drills, and support necessary to improve. But, it’s still incumbent on the student to put in the reps. As Ben Hogan suggested, “the secret is in the dirt.” Put another way; there isn’t an instructor that can overcome a lazy student.

The importance of “fit.” Sometimes it’s not what an instructor says, but how he or she says it. As with every interpersonal relationship, an individual’s style, cadence, demeanor, and ability to communicate might match what you’re looking for. Or it might not.

YES and IT’S PROBABLY OVERDUE

It’s a popularity contest. As it stands currently, the majority of well-publicized lists feel more like high schoolers voting for homecoming court than an honest attempt to rank instructors. The names might move up or down a bit from year to year, but it tends to be harder to get in with the “cool” kids than it does to stay in the clique.

Player feedback. Any list or ranking of instructors that relies solely upon peer-review ignores the consumer. At best, it seems odd to rank teachers without any consideration for the student.

It doesn’t have to be perfect. As much as everyone would love a neat, objective fool-proof system, that’s not the most likely outcome. However, this shouldn’t stop anyone from exploring better options. Keep in mind, before Mark Broadie’s “Strokes Gained” platform, we relied heavily on stats like “number of putts/round” to help determine the best putter. With stat-tracking and game management systems like Arccos and ShotScope, we have access to personal technology that can definitively measure player performance.

WHERE DO WE GO?

This isn’t a new topic or the first time someone has questioned the status quo around ranking golf instructors.  As always, the lingering question is, “So what?”

What’s most helpful to golfers? What’s even feasible? How can we better incorporate golfer feedback?

Perhaps we need a JD Power type quality ranking for all instructors. Maybe the best system is one that assigns grades (A-F) rather than numerical rankings.

But, most importantly, let’s hear from you. Tell us what you think.