Taking A Page From Our Certification Courses
If you are a member of the USGTF or a WGTF member federation, think back to when you attended the certification course. Whether you were an experienced teacher looking for professional credentials or someone who never taught before, you probably wondered what exactly was in store for you.
For the first couple of years of its existence, the USGTF was still finding its way in attempting to solve that puzzle. After keeping concepts that worked and discarding concepts that didn’t, the USGTF soon after experienced explosive growth, to the point that today over 9,000 people have gone through our certification process, with another 9,000 having been certified by other WGTF nations.
Critics have wondered, “How can you teach someone to teach golf in a week?” In all honesty, coming from a traditional point of view where earning some sort of professional credentials takes several years, that’s a fair question. Coming from a pragmatic point of view, that question is easily answered.
If you took a skiing lesson from a certified teacher, would you be confident in that teacher’s ability? How about a tennis lesson? Both sports have the same teacher training model as the USGTF: going through a week-long certification process. Neither of those sports requires its teachers to serve a multi-year apprenticeship.
For the most part, the majority of candidates have participated in these sports for most of their lives.
When candidates go through the USGTF certification process, they are taught the fundamentals necessary to teach the game to whatever certification level they desire. Level I members, who go through a two-day process, primarily learn about teaching the full swing. Level II and III members learn all facets of teaching the game, with the difference in membership levels is that Level III members are considered fully certified and have passed the playing ability test.
All this brings up an interesting question: how good do you have to be as a teacher in order to achieve the level of certification you desire? After considering this question over the years, the USGTF believes it has found the desired answer. Examiners at each certification course are charged with using their experience and being responsible for knowing how to answer that question.
The Level I written test has answers that are strictly objective, while the Level II and III verbal teaching test have answers that are more subjective. A candidate who fails the test is given another opportunity to study up and re-take the test one final time.
Going back to the question of how good someone has to teach in order to achieve a specific certification level, Level I members who pass the written test are deemed to be qualified to teach beginning players the golf swing. Level II and III members are deemed qualified to teach average level players every facet of the game. Going a step further to the Level IV Master Teaching Professionals, they are deemed qualified to teach all levels of players every facet of the game.
This is not to say that Level I members cannot competently teach tour players, for example. Their level of certification simply gives the public an idea of the minimum abilities that this person has in teaching the game. When a professional organization such as ours hands out certifications, the public has a right to expect that the certified person has reached a certain level of competence and teaching ability. This is the mission that our examiners are charged with, to determine if that level of competence and teaching ability has been met.
To meet Level II and III criteria, the candidate should possess a good working knowledge of golf mechanics and basic instruction ideas. Fortunately, most everyone who has been around the game for a few years has achieved this. By talking to more experienced players, by watching television, and reading books and magazines, this knowledge is obtained fairly easily. It is rare that someone comes through the certification process, has been playing a few years, and knows little or nothing about basic technique or teaching ideas. In this case, the Level I certification would be appropriate for this individual.
On a final note, the USGTF program is not designed to “weed out” people, although we know that some of our members feel that it should. Instead, as an educational organization, we strive to give people the best teaching education in the business, and to help people get started in the golf industry. Eighteen years of success since our founding in 1989 tells us that we’re still heading in the right direction.