Golf Magazine

Can YOU Learn Golf from an Avatar?

By Golfforbeginners

I have always learned golf from an instructor face-to-face either on-course or, when I thought my swing needed video analysis, indoors at a facility such as GolfTec, where an evaluation was held by a teaching pro offering golf tips and a drill or two for future use. 


With golf videos and applications readily at hand today via computers and through smartphones, I was introduced to a website in which a PGA instructor, with help from an avatar, teaches everything from how to set a correct grip to proper chipping and putting techniques.


[[posterous-content:pid___0]]Rick Nielsen, avatar, teaching golf to beginners


Can a beginner learn how to play golf from a computer program?


Rick Nielsen, PGA head golf instructor at Randall's Island in New York, is answering the above question in a new website,, which I believe is ready to roll out after its recent BETA testing. I got a chance to watch a golf video and decide for myself.


I followed along with the avatar (I don't think he has a name yet but he is cute) for the four-minute "Golf Grip" video. Although the steps seemed rather simple, I am no longer a beginner. This is not to say that a newbie will have trouble following directions but I remember my first lessons.


After my first grip, alignment, stance, posture session (G.A.S.P.), I was dazed and a bit confused. I had to run right over to my booth and practice, all the while looking over at my instructor who nodded and gave me much needed encouragement! I still enjoy direct, face-to-face connection with an instructor for a Q&A and to make sure I'm correctly positioned.


I also don't know how a golfer, especially a beginner, will be able to follow these directions while watching the tutorials unless a laptop is carried to the driving range (except maybe for the grip lesson which can and should be practiced everywhere). Distractions are everywhere in the game of golf, but newbies should not necessarily be exposed to them right off the first tee. We don't want to lose our beginner golfers as soon as they join the ranks if the "I can't do this" fear sets in.


This instruction site may make a good combination to on-course lessons. At $7.95 per lesson or full online access for $39.95, you decide if an avatar can help teach you the game of golf or if you would rather visit Rick for a personal evaluation in NYC!


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