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I have been a golf professional for over 17 years and although I had worked for several country clubs and found the work enjoyable, I still found myself looking for something more fulfilling. In 2006, I made one of the most career rewarding decisions I have ever made, to focus all my efforts on teaching golf to Adults and children ages 6 and older.
There is an old adage that says, “No man stands so tall as he who stoops to help a child”. What a wonderful philosophy and one to which I am totally committed. I am not a doctor, lawyer, or brilliant scientist. I am a golfer. As such, this is the best way that I can help a child. Although I enjoy the title of Professional Golfer, I must never let this become an obstacle between me and the child with whom I am working. I have found that building a relationship with a child is easy if only you are willing to recognize and respect them for who they are. There are many times when the teacher must become the student. There are times when throwing a water balloon is far more fun than swinging a golf club. There are times when a shoulder to cry on is far more important than the art of gripping a club. Above all else, there is always a time to encourage – never a time to criticize.
My teaching philosophy is quite simple, “Kids don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care”. I can say this in another way. “Kids won’t learn from you until you learn from them”. That is why I act just like them. I conduct myself in a professional manner; however, I also let them hit me with water balloons. When I am this type of a person, they feel more comfortable and relaxed and this creates a better learning environment. At this point I can teach them a solid set-up, balance, and to keep those happy feet from dancing. Student’s experience more rapid progress when they learn the short game first. However, our first lesson will start with a lofted iron and some Birdie Balls. The reason is the kids want to hit the ball in the air and see it fly. This keeps them interested right from the start and then we will work on the short game. Now they are ready to learn and have fun. When my classes start like this, everyone enjoys the program.
Colin Powell once said,” There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.” The most important factor is our customer, the kids. If you want to know what fun is, then ask them. If you want to know how they learn, then ask them. We need to listen to our kids. They are amazing! I have improved numerous lesson plans based on my student’s feedback during a class. The result is always the same, everyone had fun, and they learned something new. I am prepared of course, but I listen as I go along and I will adjust if needed. If it is broke then you are supposed to fix it and you can do it while you teach. When I was a Director at The First Tee we had a slogan, it is “Good-Better-How”. I always finish my lessons asking myself and my team “what was good, what we can do better, and how can we make it better”.