Day 4 is the day most of us (including me) have been waiting for. Most if not all of us here at the Level 2 Seminars this week teach lessons, and obviously, there’s a lot we still have to learn. That goes without saying. The presenters for the next two days will be Rafael Floriani (PGA), a PGA Education staff member for the last four years who was here during Level 1, and Brad Brewer (PGA).
Brad is the co-owner of a golf academy at Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando near where they host the PGA Merchandise Show every year. He played in the Austral-Asian Tour for three years and ran the Arnold Palmer Golf Academies at Bay Hill for ten years from 1990-2000. Brad learned a lot from the master himself.
Level 2 covers teaching intermediate-level golfers and groups. For many of us, these are our bread-and-butter golfers at our clubs or facilities, the weekend 85 or 90 shooter up to 100. This is the typical person who takes golf lessons from us. Looking ahead, Level 3 is reserved for the instruction of advanced golfers, the single-digit or plus handicap player.
Because there was rain in the forecast for much of the afternoon, they flip-flopped today’s schedule. From 8:45a to 10:10a, Brad took us through a group lesson scenario and demonstrated how he would give a driver lesson to a small group of about four people. We were at the back of the practice range at the PGA Center for Golf Learning adjacent to the Education Center. It was fun to watch Brad interact with the group while taking the time to give more specific instruction to each person individually as he went down the line.
By the time he was done, he had the group hitting draws and fades. Then Rafael took a turn with another group of four and went through a few different drills designed to get the students to feel the release of the club head, swing more from the inside, and to make better ball/turf contact. It started to sprinkle, but in true Florida fashion, it was short-lived, and we didn’t get rained out.
At 10:15, Rafael split the whole group in half, and we shuttled back over to the PGA Education Center. For the next 55 minutes, we gathered in the Club Lab where we reviewed golf club performance numbers and measured and installed grips. We also got to use a grip-ripper, which is usually reserved for more high-volume shops. You just slide the club in the device and pull. Easy as that!
We also learned what happens to the grip when you add layers of build-up tape. These are things I had already learned at the Golf Academy, but it was great to get a little refresher. It was also hands-on, which was awesome. Let’s just say that some people are better at installing grips than others.
From 11:15a to a little after noon, we headed back out to the back of the practice range with Brad and partnered up for individual lessons. My partner and I took turns giving each other a golf lesson and talking shop. It was great to hear what he was doing with the students he works with back home, and I shared some teaching stories of my own. I tried to throw my partner off by weakening my left hand grip, but he couldn’t be fooled! When we finished, we walked down the line to hear what our peers were saying to each other and how they were teaching.
Personally, I’m really glad we changed the schedule. This was our most interactive morning yet, and these are definitely the kinds of group activities I can get behind! Brad later admitted to us that he was glad we reversed the schedule and got to be outside first because it would give us a little perspective for the slides we would be viewing in the afternoon session. “The slides are necessary to make it relevant,” said Brad, “But slides aren’t the best way to learn. Practical application is the best way to learn.”
But I have to say that I found the slides to be very helpful. Not coincidentally, the two topics that led off Intermediate Teaching in the afternoon were communication and relationships. In our first exercise, Rafael told us to take five post-it notes, to recall the best teacher we’ve ever had, and then to write down the best five things about that person. When he asked us to separate the pile into “people skills” and “technical stuff” and then put them up, I would say 90% of the post-its went to the people skills side of the room. This wasn’t all that surprising, I guess. After all, we’re teaching people, not golf.
That’s also why enthusiasm is so important. Enthusiasm is contagious. If you’re an enthusiastic teacher, that rubs off on your students. Research links student learning to the teacher’s level of enthusiasm. Students of enthusiastic teachers experience greater enjoyment, higher motivation, and more success in their lessons.
At the end of the day, all we really want is to feel better about ourselves. That’s just human nature. Incidentally, the teacher I chose was Mike Barnett, and he teaches out of Bear Creek Golf Club in Chandler during the winter months.
Preview of Day 4: Intermediate Teaching and Golf Club Alteration (8:30a-6:00p)
Once again, we have come to the end of another Seminar week. But man this week has flown by! We’ll pick back up where we left off tomorrow morning. Tomorrow could be an inside day. There are thunderstorms in the forecast from 7:00a until 3:00p, and the percentage chances are high. This also happens to be the longest day on the schedule, and it’s not even close. We didn’t get out of class tonight until almost 5:45p, so hopefully they’ll have a little mercy on us on our last day.