Expedited by disruptions to in-person teaching as a result of the pandemic, the world of golf instruction has had to adapt to the times and utilise advancements in technology to reach new audiences.
Are the days of booking an hour-long session with a PGA Pro at your local driving range behind us?
In this article, I’ll be unpacking three approaches to golf instruction in the twenty-first century, highlighting the growing popularity of short-form content, the hundreds of hours of swing tips available on YouTube and the increasing prevalence of online lesson memberships.
Short Form Instruction - TikTok and Instagram
With just a smartphone, PGA Pros and golfers can now post and interact with instruction-oriented content through their favourite social media platforms from anywhere in the world.
In alignment with viewing habits and driven by the algorithm, one-minute-and-under instruction tidbits continue to show up on golf-mad users’ feeds, combining education and entertainment.
Whilst @jakehuttgolf (126k Instagram Followers and 103k on TikTok) uses the medium of music to deliver tips which help his audience “suck less at golf”, @manoloteachesgolf (826k Instagram Followers and 1m on TikTok) creates engaging skits full of personality and useful pointers for his followers to enjoy.
In terms of growth, in 2022 alone, @manoloteachesgolf saw an increase of 400k followers on TikTok, achieving a total of over 6 million likes across just over 100 videos. It was in the previous year that @jakehuttgolf’s Instagram really took off. Between March and October 2021, his overall Instagram following doubled, with several of his posts achieving over 400k views in this timeframe.
Free To View YouTube Back Catalogues
Over on YouTube, where longer-form content dominates, the back catalogue of creators such as Me and My Golf (who have posted over 1,400 videos to the platform), can help any golfer diagnose and correct almost any problem in their game.
With a total of over 870k dedicated subscribers on YouTube, it is no surprise that Me and My Golf have seen significant growth since the start of the pandemic, having gained nearly 300k subscribers and over 50 million views between March 2020 and December 2022. When golfers were permitted to return to courses across the UK in the summer of 2020, the channel’s weekly video views skyrocketed from around 300k to an average of 500k weekly video views almost every week between June to September 2020. Such a jump in the statistics may well be viewed as a signal of golfers’ desire for easily accessible instructional content during this time.
Additionally, with the evolution of YouTube Shorts (a rival to TikTok and Instagram), traditionally longer-form creators have started to repurpose their content to work alongside viewers’ demands for short and snappy swing tips. Posted earlier this year in February, before YouTube Shorts had really taken off, a clip featuring a driver tip from Sergio Garcia and shared by Me and My Golf broke the 1m view mark.
Overall, it is apparent that after typing in only a handful of key search terms, it has never been easier for golfers to locate a wide selection of swing tips across the platform to help them correct weaknesses in their game.
Online Instruction Packages/Membership
Recognising the need to capitalise on a growing demand for online tuition, it is no surprise that creators such as Me and My Golf have developed their own online membership packages, which provide access to a variety of member-only perks and instructional tips beyond a paywall.
Platforms such as Skillest have also become increasingly popular, offering “world-class golf instructors at an affordable price” for a flat monthly fee. Golfers can enjoy 1-on-1 online lessons by sending and receiving personalised video clips targeted explicitly toward improving their swing, an evolution of the “one size fits all” approach of videos found on YouTube.
During an interview in July 2021 with the New York Times, Skillest Co-Founder Baden Schaff mentioned that the platform had tripled in size during the previous 12 months. With the popularity of the platform only going from strength to strength throughout 2022, it would not be a stretch to suggest that the speed of this growth has likely continued since that interview.
Whilst the demand for a more accessible, affordable and entertaining approach to golf tuition is there for all to see, the question remains as to whether these developments are an altogether foolproof replacement for in-person lessons.
Regardless, the opportunity to grow the sport by leveraging social trends and technological advances to encourage golfers to work on their game, wherever they are in the world, may well prove vital to maintaining the sport’s post-pandemic momentum.