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How to Become a Golf Instructor

Table of Contents

a golf teacher gives golf instruction to a golfer with professional liability for golf instructors.

It’s safe to say that golfers invest big in perfecting their game. Experts predict that the golf equipment market will be worth a staggering 32 billion dollars by 2028. The career outlook for golf teachers is keeping pace—golf professional jobs are expected to grow 20% by 2028, creating roughly 48,800 new jobs.

With more youth, women, and other minority golfers hitting the green every year, now may be the time to take a big swing and turn your golfing passion into a career as a golf instructor.

The path from golf fan to golf pro isn’t always a straight line, so we created this guide to help you think through each stage of your long game. We’ll cover the most important steps to start your career, from getting licensed to creating a client base. Ready to tee off?

1. Build Your Qualifications

If you’re wondering the best route for how to become a golf instructor, you’re in good company. Because there are no formal education or licensing requirements, golf teaching pros take many paths to gain the bona fides they need to attract clients.

The most popular ways for golf coaches to prove their skills are:

As you decide which path to take, consider how each will help you develop your fundamentals.

New players need to know the rules of the game, golf etiquette, and strategy as well as skills like putting, chipping, and swing mechanics. Having first-hand experience with playing in different conditions, courses, and tournaments will also give you valuable advice to share.

2. Get Certified

Golf instructors don’t need a license to teach, but it goes a long way toward showing clients that you know your stuff. As the most widely recognized and accepted certification, PGA Professional status is the industry gold standard.

Founded in 1916, the PGA is the oldest and most well-recognized professional golf organization. Even though it isn’t the only option for golf instructor certification today, the PGA was the certifier until around the 1990s, when choices like the PGTAA and USGTF came on the scene.

With connections to pro golfers and courses thanks to the PGA tour and a long-standing certifying program allied with top universities, there’s a reason the PGA is the industry’s most trusted name for certification.

How to Become a PGA Certified Golf Instructor

To qualify for membership and certified Professional status, applicants must complete the PGA Associate course. Whether a PGA license is right for you depends on how much time, focus, and money you want to invest. PGA professional certification costs about $4,091 and can take from 3–8 years to complete.

All that work pays off with serious perks. Members access a network of over 30,000 golf pros, exclusive training, tournament discounts, liability insurance (we’ll come back to that), and more. Many clubs and employers also require PGA pro status to hire, so it can open doors to higher salaries and steady clients.

PGA Certification Alternatives

For a faster or less expensive route, try the PGTAA or USGTF. Both specialize in teaching golf, so they limit broader topics in PGA classes like course management or organizing tournaments that may not apply to instructors.

The tradeoff for both programs is fewer member benefits and lower name recognition.

3. Gain Experience

Classroom teaching provides a framework for how to become a golf instructor, but it’s all theoretical until it’s you, a student, and a wide-open greenway. Time on the course around golf teachers gives you practical know-how to complement your coursework.

Two common ways to gain in-person experience are:

  • Golf internships: A variety of PGA internships, internships for college students, and golf internships with organizations can help you learn the ins and outs of course maintenance, teaching, or tour management from professionals.
  • Teaching assistant roles: Working as an assistant golf coach at a club or course lets you teach beginners and follow golf instructors to observe their methods. Keep in mind that these positions are often open only to PGA members or students.

However you gain experience, shadowing instructors is crucial to developing your teaching philosophy.

When will you build clients a new swing from scratch, and when will you work within their existing motion? How should you approach clients of different ages and abilities?

Observing different teaching styles in action helps you settle on a personal playbook.

Golf instructor demonstrates a bunker shot to a student on a golf course.

4. Buy Golf Instructor Liability Insurance

Insurance isn’t legally required for golf instructors, but you might struggle to hold lessons on a course without it.

Grounds, equipment, and memberships are so costly that even routine accidents can lead to big lawsuits. Plus, many country clubs, sports facilities, and even professional associations like the PGA require proof of insurance.

Insurance Canopy is here to provide golf instructor liability insurance tailored to risks you face on and off the green. Some examples include:

  • Property damage: Your student accidentally drives the golf cart you rented into a pond. The facility comes to you to pay the bill for property and rental repair.
  • Client injury: A client pulls a muscle while trying to learn a new swing and sues you to cover medical bills and time off work.
  • Broken equipment: A golf cart runs over your student’s bag during a lesson, crushing their clubs. The student sues you to replace their equipment.
  • Professional errors: A client who fails to qualify for a tournament sues you, citing your teaching services as the cause.

5. Gear Up

Between course fees, clubs, balls, and accessories, golf is all about the green in more ways than one.

The average golfer spends $2,000–$2,500 every year on the sport, and instructors are more invested in golf gadgets than most.

Before you jump into your first lesson, consider a few important starting costs.

Sports Equipment

It’s no secret that golf is expensive—the cost of a club set alone can range from $400 to over $2,000. The good news is that most students expect to provide their own gear since a club can drastically change their swing.

You may want to bring your clubs to their lesson to demonstrate concepts, though some teachers borrow from their students.

Golf Technology

On the other hand, golf monitoring technology is rapidly becoming a must-have for a golf teacher’s toolbox.

These devices are especially useful for gauging student progress in online coaching, but many golf pros use them across all sessions. Their video-game-like interfaces might even help you engage younger golfers.

Consider the potential of tech like launch monitors and simulators, smartphone apps, and swing analyzers to attract clients and improve your teaching feedback. While these tools are invaluable, many are far from free—expect price tags in the hundreds or thousands of dollars. Free or low-cost coaching apps like V1 and CoachNow are a budget-friendly place to start.

Golf Gear and Equipment Insurance

With more equipment in your golf instructor bag than ever, insuring your teaching gear is a smart move.

Look for a golf instructor insurance policy with protection like our gear and equipment coverage, sometimes called Inland Marine coverage, to guard your investment.

6. Land a Job as a Golf Instructor

So you have the credentials, the skills, and the equipment—now it’s time to get the job. The best work situation for you will depend on your goals for salary, job duties, and independence. The following are some of the most popular teaching locations for golf instructors:

  • Clubs, courses, and sports facilities
  • Resorts
  • Schools
  • Freelancing

Pro tip: Most golf facilities require general and professional liability insurance from employees and freelance instructors. They may also request to be added to your policy as an additional insured. This covers their risk of being named in a lawsuit while you teach on their property or in their name.

7. Build a Client Base

To start teaching students, you have to find them and help them find you! Combining online marketing and word of mouth is a strong approach to booking your first golf lesson—and continuing to land new ones.

Here are some key ways to build a client base as you become a golf instructor:

  • Build a website where clients can see your services, qualifications, and contact you
  • Make a profile for your golf instructor business on Facebook and post something once or twice a week
  • Use paid advertisements like Google Ads and Facebook ads to reach clients
  • Give out business cards
  • Network in your community

Online golf communities and forums are an easy way to talk golf with people who love the sport. Connecting with other golf instructors in your area may even result in client referrals or recommendations for the best clubs and courses.

Golfer using monitoring technology places a golf ball on an indoor green.

8. Keep Current on Skills and Trends

Are you ever really done learning how to be a golf instructor? The best golf teachers are also lifelong golf students. Make sure to keep playing rounds with a wide variety of different golfers. Challenging yourself to spot their issues or ask for pointers from great players sharpens and builds your skills.

To stay informed on news and trends, consider attending golf industry events, conferences, and seminars. These events offer built-in networking to help you grow your business and your skillset.

Stay On Par for Success

Teaching golf can be a rewarding job that lets you build a career around your favorite pastime. Setting yourself up as an expert may seem intimidating, but now that you know how to become a certified golf instructor with a plan to succeed, you’ll be teaching like a pro in no time.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

The average golf instructor’s annual salary in the U.S. is $54,457, or about $26/hour. Pay varies based on your certificates and qualifications. Below are golf instructors’ annual salaries by education:

  • Doctorate: $60,721
  • Master’s degree: $48,896
  • Bachelor’s degree: $39,620
  • High school diploma or less: $29,597

The cost of becoming a golf instructor depends on whether you choose to become certified and which certification you pick. The PGA Associates Program costs an average of $4,091, while a golf teachers association certificate from the PGTAA Home Study Course costs $2,495.

Keep in mind that using a golf course, belonging to a golf association, or maintaining a golf license frequently requires paying annual dues. You’ll also want to factor in your equipment costs and the expense of advertising your business.

There is no certification requirement to be a golf coach. However, many clubs and golf facilities require a PGA Professional license to teach. These facilities also often ask golf instructors to provide general and professional liability insurance to cover accidents and property damage.

Golf instructors need to market their services to find and keep clients. Creating a professional website and social media presence will help potential students see your credentials and connect with you.

Some golf teachers choose to list themselves with online golf coaching sites like Skillest, while others network with golf pros and fans on golf forums and communities.

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