There is a phenomenon sweeping across the golf world, an instruction tool that is introducing, improving and assisting golfers with their games - 140 characters at a time. It's quick, it's free and it's available to anyone with a smartphone, tablet or computer. The social media craze of Twitter and the traditionally intensive process of golf instruction have collaborated and merged in a spectacular way for the golf community. The results have been astounding - and it's a "trend" that's only growing larger.
"Any golf question you have, anything that has an answer, can be answered on Twitter," says John Graham, PGA (@JohnGrahamGolf ) - the Director of Instruction at Webster Golf Club in Rochester, NY and a popular golf voice for instruction on Twitter. "Of course, it will never replace actual in-person instruction, but as a tool to get people connected, excited about learning golf, discussing theories, offering tips, those things - it's proven invaluable."
"It's great for golfers because it's such a good venue for instructors to share their expertise and knowledge on all things golf," says PGA instructor Kirk Oguri (@KirkOguri ), a PGA Professional based out of Long Island, NY. "Whether it's instruction, equipment, courses, tournaments; anytime you have that connection between teachers and golfers, it's a benefit for everyone."
Golfers and golf fans have long followed their favorite golf personalities to get insight, entertainment and even share some conversations. Ian Poulter, Stewart Cink and Rory McIlroy are just a few of the golfers that have created virtual communities around their daily lives on Twitter. They have built huge followings as they post about life on Tour, make important announcements, share family moments and even post dinner plans.
But the emergence of golf instruction on the medium has taken its relevance and importance to golfers to another level. Now they have immediate access to a host of top golf instructors and can inquire any number of them about a particular topic, or just read through dozens of daily tips to see how many resonate with their needs in their games. Instructors such as former PGA National Teacher of the Year Hank Haney (@HankDHaney ), who has over 35,000 followers, use twitter to not only answer a myriad of questions, but have even analyzed golf swings sent in on the medium.
So how can a golfer, or budding golfer, best use Twitter to help their game? A generic search for "golf" will yield too broad an array of results on twitter. And few golf tips actually have the term "golf tip (or hashtag #golftip) within the tweet itself (obvious space limitations). But we can offer all neophytes a few effective ways to get started and thus, help your game.
1.) Follow PGA.com (@PGA_com ). Admittedly, this is a self-serving tip, but it's also an effective one. (Disclaimer, I'm not the one tweeting for PGA.com). PGA.com follows hundreds of top PGA Instructors and when we come across an interesting, informative or provoking golf tip, we'll "retweet" it for all of our followers.
2.) Find an Instructor you like on twitter - and follow who they follow. Top teachers are top teachers because they never stop learning. Thus, Twitter has proven to be a great resource for golf experts to engage, discuss, debate and encourage each other. By sheer osmosis, any reader of these public tweets among them will learn a great deal about the golf swing. But even more, it's amazing how many great golf nuggets of actual instruction can be condensed into these 140 character limit postings.
3.) Create a "List". @PGA_com has a list of hundreds of instructors under PGA_com/pgamembers. But others have even more specialized lists that can be segmented into areas of the game such as "Bunkers," "Putting" and "Mental Game." However you want to aggregate and ingest the information, Twitter will allow for.
Perhaps more than anything, Twitter has made the golf world smaller - where teachers are students, students are teachers and all the interaction that takes place between them is a huge asset to all golfers.
Explains Sara Dickson (@Sara_PGA ), a PGA Certified Instructor who teaches out of Stonebridge CC in Naples, Fla. and North Shore CC in Glenview, Ill, "I often say this jokingly but it's true; Twitter has changed my life. I cannot explain how great of a learning tool Twitter is if used properly."
Dickson, a young instructor just two years out of school has, despite (or maybe because of) her youth, become a prolific instructor on the medium. She often stresses that the connections and engagments via Twitter means she'll be a better teacher for her students - online and on the course. "I have learned more via Twitter since signing up for it 2 years ago than any other person or resource."
If the experts understand that Twitter can teach them so much, what are the limits on what it can teach amateur golfers? They are infinitely big - and 140 characters small.